The Kerouac Book River

The Kerouac Book River is inspired by the legendary Merrimack and Concord rivers, which run through the author’s hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts. At the “source” of the river is the canon of first editions, beginning in 1950 with The Town and the City. Plentiful waters stir to rapids with Jack’s kinetic classic novel, On the Road, in 1957, and the current gains momentum with numerous tales drawn from a short life richly lived. Later editions surge and splash through high water on the way to the river’s mouth, which empties into the global ocean of readers.

While this cover art illustrates how graphic artists and designers visualized Kerouac’s writings, it also shows how Kerouac’s North American narratives and poetry, translated into a multitude of languages, have spoken to generations worldwide. The Kerouac Book River draws from the holdings of the Jack Kerouac Collections at the UMass Lowell Libraries’ Center for Lowell History, as well as online resources. The presentation of these images is not for commercial use, as copyrights may reside with the publishers or cover artists. If you have a Kerouac book cover you’d like to share, please use this site’s contact form


First Editions



Later and International Editions




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