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Apr 2 / jfletcher

The many forms of Penguin Books.

Recognize these? Yeah, I thought so. Everyone does. If you don’t, you’re probably illiterate. I can clearly remember piles of Penguin books stacked on the shelves of my grade school library. And I’m pretty sure my parents have a few floating around their bookshelves at home. I should tell them to hold on to them. Tight. They’ve become quite the collector’s items.


Over the years, I’ve spotted Penguin books reinvented and redesigned in many different ways. Like this…

Cloth-back books illustrated by Coralie Bickford-Smith. I’m sure you recognize these too. Everyone I know has one or two of these. Probably even the entire set.  I picked up my copies from a wedding. The books were used as the centerpieces and then as the favors to take home.


And this. Artist Harland Miller‘s large scale paintings. Super cool. Courteney thinks so too.


And now Osbourne & Little is jumping on the band wagon with their new “Penguin Library” wallpaper. I think this would be adorable in a kid’s bedroom. Or the obvious library. When the “Penguin Library” wallpaper was first announced, Osbourne & Little sent out a press release sharing the history of Penguin Group. You can read the entire thing here, but I found this portion to be the most interesting. It’s about the design of the “tri-band” book cover in 1935. From Osbourne & Little:

“The Penguin tri-band design was the work of Edward Young, a 21 year-old office junior who went on to become the company’s first Production Manager, who was also dispatched to London zoo to sketch a penguin for the now well-recognised and much-loved logo. The template he created consisted of three horizontal stripes: upper and lower bands colourcoded by genre (orange for fiction, blue for biography, green for crime, cerise for travel and adventure, for example) and a central white panel containing the author and, of course, they came printed with the iconic Penguin logo. The distinctive simplicity was a radical departure from the more ornate approach of its competitors and spoke volumes about the new company.”

Dude was 21. I love that. And the design is still so current. I love that even more.

Photo credits: Basil-Hallward Tumblr via Another Mag, Ben Carrick Tumblr, Coralie Bickford-Smith, Henry Bourne for NY Times, Simon Upton for Elle Decor, SF Girl by Bay, and Osbourne & Little.