Cheap Books, Killer Looks
Penguin Books was founded in England in 1935 by Allen Lane, whose mission was to sell books not just in bookstores, but in train stations and corner stores for the same price as a pack of smokes, a concept which had up to that point seemed ridiculous.
The books were immediately popular with readers, and Lane designed an easy-to-use method for keeping track of which books were about what. Books with an orange band around the cover were general fiction, green was crime fiction, maroon was for the travel series, and dark blue was for biographies. But as their publishing empire expanded, so did their cover design concepts under the rigid eye of German typographer Jan Tschichold. Tschichold designed a template for all Penguin books, which included a set of composition rules which he demanded all typographers and printers follow.
For several decades, Penguin’s cover designs utilized simple photographs, illustrations and text to produce mass-market paperbacks with a killer aesthetic. Take a look at some of their classic covers and see if you don’t think they remain as vital today as they must have at the time of their creation. In a format marketed to be disposable, a design that holds up for several decades is something to marvel at. Because of their classic look, collectors continue to flock to used book stores and garage sales looking for their favorite long lost treasure.
Penguin books recently celebrated their 70th birthday with a slick set of 70 classic titles. And you can check out more of their awesome cover designs by clicking the thumbnails below or by visiting
your favorite bookstore.