Many of us remember the novel from its plain red cover (right). But its first paperback edition went through 27 printings with a cover by James Avati. Salinger was against showing Holden Caulfield on the cover of the book.
After some tense meetings, Avati won over the editors, arguing:
"Mr. Salinger felt that since he had not described Holden in physical detail his face sould not appear on the cover. We always had that problem. It is, in fact, quite frequently the core of our cover thinking, to the extent that it is the resolution of personality as expressed by some graphic device that makes up the cover. We try to find a way of conveying the mood of the book rather than describing some particular scene. Within reasonable limits it has proved true that physical characteristics are of much less importance than reactions expressed."
Which cover do you prefer? Please vote in the poll. (Added later: The plain red cover won 87 percent of the voting with 178 votes, compared with 25 votes for the Avati cover.)
More about the Salinger lawsuit, link.
Quote from "The Paperback Art of James Avati" by Piet Schreuders, link.