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Penguin 75

Book covers matter to me. I am a general reader with an appreciation for design. A good cover, as far as I am concerned, has aesthetic intelligence in its own right but must also serve as a pointer to the heart of the content; it should have a respectful, if not amorous dialogue with the content or the author. I happen to think that we are living in something of a golden era of book cover design and the art department at Penguin has contributed to making it so. In celebration of Penguin’s benchmark year, Penguin 75 is a neat, affordable art book that presents covers from the last several years, the art director and designer’s commentary, and, occasionally, the author’s take. For the consumer like me, it is a fascinating look at how covers end up the way they do; for the graphics student, it should be highly instructive. The collection was edited by Paul Buckley, art director, who also worked as a designer and supervisor on most of the projects. They reflect his aesthetic, which is broad and comes down on the edgy side. He is very happy with the series of classics covers created by comics artists. For me, the designs created by tattoo artists were more successful in terms of giving the temperature of the book within. One of the reasons why this collection and Penguin covers in general succeed is Buckley’s willingness to try nontraditional designers. David Byrne, author of The Bicycle Diaries, contributed his own drawing to his cover. Another artist won a contest run through Creativity Magazine. My favorite story is that of who produced the Twitterature cover. Apparently, young interns at Penguin get to do more than run the copy machine.

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