The animal on the cover of Building Scalable Web Sites is a carp (Cyprinus carpio). The carp is a fish whose reputation varies greatly depending on who you ask. In some countries, such as Taiwan and Japan, the carp is generally regarded as a sign of good fortune. Carp are bred for their beautiful colors and are featured prominently in Japanese gardens. Carp also enjoy a special place in Japanese artpainters have often used the fish to symbolize persistence, longevity, and fertility.
In other parts of the world, the carp is seen as a nuisance and has become a target for removal. In the United States, for example, carp are sometimes poisoned so that different fish can be introduced. However, the carp's ability to adapt and even thrive in the harshest of conditions have made such extermination efforts difficult. In Australia, the carp has an even worse reputation. Studies have shown that carp, which are not indigenous and were introduced illegally to the continent, are destructive to Australian ecologies. As a result, strict laws have been put into placefor example, if you catch a carp while fishing, it is illegal to return it to the water.
The carp's reputation as a food also varies depending on where you are. Carp is routinely served in many Asian countries, such as China, Taiwan, Japan, and Korea. In some Eastern European countries, carp is served on special occasions and is a traditional Christmas Eve meal. In North America, on the other hand, carp is largely considered to be too boney and fishy tasting for eating.
Even the carp's status as a game fish varies from place to place. Among the toughest fighting freshwater fish, the carp would seem to be the ideal challenge for anglers all over the world. However, in the U.S., the carp is not considered to be a top game fish, although that is beginning to change. But Europeans take carp fishing much more seriously, and top anglers come together for competitions all over Europe.
The cover image is from Cassell's Natural History. The cover font is Adobe ITC Garamond. The text font is Linotype Birka; the heading font is Adobe Myriad Condensed; and the code font is LucasFont's TheSans Mono Condensed.