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April 2, 1973

Of Books and Symbols

JAMA. 1973;224(1):119-120. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220140087017

For each of its ten issues the annual Book Number has shown on its cover someone engaged in reading or writing—a sort of theme song. This year for the first time we portray a woman reading. Let no one consider this an admission that hitherto I have been a male chauvinist pig. Rather, there is involved a point quite different from women's lib, a point that concerns the entire concept of the Book Number and the philosophy that underlies the choice of a cover.

On this year's cover the picture has a double impact. The artist obviously is continuing the Dutch tradition of the 17th century, with a keen interest in interior furnishings and technical problems of illumination. But—perhaps incidentally—he also shows a woman reading. We do not see her face but we do not need to. She is completely engrossed in her book. It is this latter point that