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 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?


Simply Mel {Reverie} 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.

Unknown 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!

Unknown 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...


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? 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 ...

P.Gaye Tapp at 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...

Sesame Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sesame Jones said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
English Muse said...

oh!! love love love!!!

Amy 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!


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.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin