I just learned about the Iconic Books Project at Syracuse University, run by Jim Watts and Dorina Miller Parmenter. The goal of the project is to catalogue the way in which iconic books (“texts revered as objects of power rather than just as words of instruction, information, or insight”) are displayed, read, covered, represented in art, etc., etc.
Here’s how the website describes the project’s goals:
The project’s collecting and cataloguing activities aim to do basic research, but its study of iconic books has implications for understanding phenomena as diverse as the marketing of e-books, political ceremonies, legal conflicts over religion, artistic and media depictions of books, the reproduction of scriptures, the architecture of libraries and museums, radical religious uses of media images, the relationship between image and text, the role of religion in law, and the historical influence of “book religions.”
If you’re interested in how the Bible and other books have become decoration or advertising or the fodder for fine or pop art, have a look at the site. The database itself isn’t open to the public, but the project’s blog is.
You can contribute images there as well.