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?