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Penguin Books Walk into any used bookstore, and you’ll see shelves full of classicly designed Penguin books. These cheap, unassuming little paperbacks take you back, pointing to an era before fancy computers and today’s gluttony of typefaces. In celebration of these books, designer Joe Kral has compiled an inspirational Flickr set of some of Penguin’s best cover designs.

Many showcase the impactful image-central grid system of Romek Marber. Even today, they still look good.

While Penguin books still live up to their original promise of affordable literature, the entrance of computers has sadly muddled the their design. Most new covers just suck, suffering from overdesign, art direction by committee, and unfortunate typography. It’s quite sad:


Yes, some hope comes with Penguin’s latest Great Ideas series, but I doubt the refreshingly considered design of this series will spread to their entire library. It’s a shame.

You can find more inspiration and a chronicle of Penguin covers in Phil Baine’s book, Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935–2005.

1 Comment

  • Marty Weil

    gravatarOct 6, 2006
    1:35 pm

    It’s great to see ephemera like this in the spotlight. The items I feature on http://www.ephemera.typepad.com dovetail nicely with this post. Just wanted to say I enjoyed seeing this featured on your blog. Very interesting. Nice work.