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Penguin’s Retro Covers and Deluxe Editions


Further proof that our friends at Penguin are marketing geniuses.

Penguin’s director of sales in Australia, Peter Blake, came up with the idea for ‘Popular Penguins’ 10 years ago, but higher-ups were skeptical whether the idea would be a success. Blake’s plan entailed re-releasing 50 titles (25 fiction, 25 non) in the original, now retro, orange & cream coloured covers. As a result, the idea was only approved last year, and so far only in Australia, New Zealand and India.

The books are only $10 each, and given the average cost of books in Australia, that’s a bargain. Also, in a time of some global economic worry, uncertainty and the like, appealing to people’s sense of nostalgia is a winning move.

“They are instantly recognisable and have an emotional pull,” Mr Blake said. “Most people or their parents have got second-hand or old Penguins at home that have the same livery.

But it’s not only pulling on that nostalgic lever, it’s also got that retro coolness. We’ve found that younger readers have been really drawn to them.”

I really like so much of what Penguin does. Their Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions that they’ve been putting out over the past few years are fantastic, and make me want to own them all. Check out some of these covers:

Philosophy in the Boudoir by the Marquis de Sade - Penguin Classics Deluxe EditionJungle by Upton Sinclair - Penguin Classics Deluxe EditionFrankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley - Penguin Classics Deluxe EditionOne Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest - Ken Kesey - Penguin Classics Deluxe EditionNew York Trilogy by Paul Auster - Penguin Classics Deluxe EditionThe Portable Dorothy Parker - Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition

Any time I see one of those in a bookshop it makes me salivate. One day I want to own them all. But really, what a brilliant idea – releasing a bunch of classics, that people have probably been “meaning to read” anyway, but putting them in such irresistable covers. Of the above selections, I only own One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and my copy is falling to bits. The others are all books I’ve been wanting to read for ages (with the exception of New York Trilogy, which is new to me), and now, finally, I have the motivation to own them and get on it. My bookshelf will be so beautiful.

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Beth Carswell

About Beth Carswell

I've been reading, selling, researching, loving and writing about books with AbeBooks since 2000.