Friday, June 19, 2009

Naked Penguins

The world's most venerated paperback company has introduced design-it-yourself book covers. (Well, they've been out for a while...am I the only one who hasn't seen this?)
Knowing how highly I value a well-designed cover (see my post on Megan Wilson), I was initially taken aback. I prize vintage Penguins and have collected a stack over the years. But with good old self-deprecating charm, they actually address this very issue on their blog (yes, Penguin has a blog. Blogs are the new black.)

In their words:

According to consumer research conducted on what factors matter to people when they decide whether or not to pick up a book in a bookshop, the cover design comes out as most important. So this might be the stupidest thing we've ever done. 

According to the website, "the covers are art-quality paper and hold ink, paint, pencil and glue and come shrink-wrapped so the paper doesn't get dirty."

Apparently, it's all the rage with rock bands.

Beck drew a cover for "The Lost Estate" by Henri-Alain Fournier...


Ryan Adams painted Bram Stoker's "Dracula."

Dragonette illustrated "Alice in Wonderland" by Lewis Carroll.

And Razorlight scribbled F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" (it's a scribbled betting slip from a horse race in Tokyo.)
My initial hesitancy was soothed by the fact that Penguin clearly realizes their idea is slightly heretical, as evidenced by the following tongue-in-cheek comment: "Frame it, read it, give it as a gift or hide it away on a shelf at home" (italics mine). 

You can buy them here.

Yes, no or maybe so?

15 comments:

Simply Mel said...

I'm a big fan of creativity, but I think I'll stick with the original book cover design.

miss cavendish said...

I often have my literature students design book covers for the novel they're reading; this could be a great way to to formalize the assignment.

home before dark said...

I am drawn to the covers. However I am old enough to have been drawn to the actual bindings. I suspect this move is a way to reduce costs under the name of creativity.

VictoriaArt said...

Love it,
just how often are you really going to do it?
So: Maybe!
Certainly a great gift idea to personalize it!
I would probably try a collage of sorts.
Happy weekend!
Victoria

The Squirrel Girl said...

Interesting concept but I too love the vintage Penguin book covers. I'll stick with the originals but kudos to them for being creative!

Diane Dorrans Saeks said...

Lisa-


Errr...no!

Penguin: I want your vision, your effort, your artist, your designer. I want the book to be all of a piece--not the innards, no cover, with me to scribble.
When you've added your own cover--what do you have?
Couldn't one--if one wanted to be creative--simply design a book jacket and slam it on?
Hmmm...no thanks.

Prairie Girl Studio said...

hmmmm ... as much as i would love to design book covers, i am feeling like this somehow degrades the contents and could reflect on the writer ... reading, to me means connecting on some level with the author ... maybe if it was a book jacket? a choice and option for the beloved reader ...
aarrgh ... i have always supported that ideas come from ideas but i am probably not going with this one ...
prairiegirl

little augury said...

Lisa- you are always on top of everything- So as far as I am concerned this is News. I think it sounds like something appealing-Obviously a highly creative book buyer or lover of a particular book could go to town- as evidenced. I know a dozen egos that I can give them to for gifts and a few highly creative people- they would all love it. la

pve design said...

I love it.
Seems like a great idea for cereal boxes too -
I think your little one would like that...
pve

Sesame Jones said...
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Sesame Jones said...
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Tina said...

oh!! love love love!!!

Aimala said...

I love the creative aspect of the idea and how it seems to include the reader. But as a reader I'm not sure I like it. One of the things I love about the books I choose to read is the cover, the cover is part of the story, it explains it. emphasizes it, highlights part of it. I admit I have been known to read a particular book simply because I adored the cover!
Thank you for including some of Penguin's comments from their blog, love their attitude about this idea!

Amy
Aimala02@yahoo.com

StuckInABook said...

An interesting idea, but I've not done it yet... I love that Alice cover though. Have you been to that website of Alice illustrations? She has inspired so much creativity.

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