A Parcel of Penguins

**Several months ago I went shopping with the intention of buying nothing. Naturally I came home with four books, two of which were Popular Penguins. Before then I’d never bought Popular Penguins and really wasn’t interested in them. I think the main reason I did that time was because I  read A Clockwork Orange, loved it, saw it on the Popular Penguins stand and had to have it. Purely spontaneous on my part.

I think Popular Penguins are a great idea for several obvious reasons. That being they are usually classic literature or popular pieces of work that you can get for no more then 10 bucks (bargain). There’s some great titles in Popular Penguins, A Clockwork Orange and One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest just being two of them but there’s also a reason why I don’t like popular penguins and wouldn’t usually buy them.

I admit I’m a cover snob. I don’t just buy books to read them, I also buy them to collect them and the cover is an important part for me. So to have a series of books with a uniformed cover irks me a tad. I know there’s a chance some bibliophage purists will read this and think I’m an idiot, which I could very well be and also there is that old adage “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” which I’m not doing at all… I’m also an art nut and think all books should have their own stylised covers.

Popular Penguins irks my aesthetic sensitivity. They’re still great to have, I mean who can fault a 10 dollar read? In all honesty I can find cheaper with individual covers, even if they are second hand but I can also find cheap reads with individual covers that are brand new and those ones happen to be Penguin subsidiaries as well. Take for instance Penguin Red Classics. Along with the Popular Penguins I bought one Red Classic (The Island of Dr Moreau) which was no more then 14 dollars! And this led me to go through all my books to see just how many penguins there are. I have a list.

Standard Penguin
Popular Penguins
Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics
Penguin Classics
Penguin Modern Classics
Penguin Red Classics
Penguin Education
Penguin Modern Psychology Readings
Puffin Books & Puffin Classics (for kids)

And then there are the websites & other imprints/off shoots

Speculative Fiction
Penguins You Must Read Before You Die
Lantern Books
Between The Lines

There’s heaps more, (to check them all out follow this link and you’ll see the other websites options in the nav bar) but if I listed them all I’d be a much longer post then my usually long one so I’ll leave it at that, but you get the idea. And all those other penguin books have covers so why do Popular Penguins miss out? I know, I know I should stop being so pedantic…

**This is an older post that I’ve updated for now rather than using it for Old School Thursdays.

One thought on “A Parcel of Penguins

  1. I prefer Vintage Classics from Random House. They have a great collection of both more traditional classics, as well as modern classics. They also have interesting covers. I always avoid Penguin Classics like the plague because of their covers. I have a blog post about Vintage Classics that I have on the back burner (for when I have nothing to say) which includes a lot of pretty covers, a list of my To Buy List as well as those I already own. I should probably post that soon LOL In the last three years, all the classics I have bought have been Vintage Classics. They start from about $6 at Abbey’s Bookstore (the sister store of Galaxy) and are always on special at Dymocks.

    I think it is all about the branding with Penguin Classics. It is why Vintage Classics was created – because Penguin had a chokehold on the market. With Penguin, they have such a large catelouge, but they have been using the same covers for decades! You see one of their books, and you immediately know how to associate it. You dont even need to see their logo or title to know it is a Penguin and a Classic. But damn, I wish they would do something about their design LOL They sell them everywhere (including airports, which is normally where I want to buy them) but they just arent enticing enough. All my Penguin Classics were bought second hand as a child.


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