Friday, November 22, 2013

Mystery book cover

I was in a college book store just snooping around as my wife looked for reference books.

My eye was caught by a bookshelf full of orange, white and black book covers.

It was the somewhat familiar Penguin Books look -- not really used in the United States. The shelf looked something like this:

Mock-up of books on display.
At first glance, I thought it was some kind of play on the equals (=) symbol. A gay-lesbian-transgender studies thing -- this being a college book store and all.

On closer examination, I realised the black bars were not of equal width and it dawned on me the title and author had been blocked out for some reason. 

Scan of the book cover.
I was compelled to pick up the book and look at the spine to see what it was. It was George Orwell's "1984" -- or as it says on the spine, "Nineteen Eighty-Four." 

What a fantastic design! A book without the title or the author on the cover! But it makes sense to do that for an edition of "1984."

Even though I do not need a copy of "1984," I spent $13 Canadian on this edition. I was so taken by it. 

The best part about the story is: 

After I got home and more closely examined the book cover I noticed the cover was embossed. The logo and the penguin on the bottom are embossed, and … 

Embossed. Nice.


The title and author are indeed on the cover of the book. And they are blocked out. And they are still semi-readable. 

What a fantastic design!

The title and author are there. Click for larger.
I guess this book cover is a tribute/homage to the original Penguin Books covers of the past. I'm not familiar with those book covers, I'm pretty sure they were used in Great Britain only, but in searching around the Internet, I found many representations of the old design. This "1984" cover certainly pays tribute to that design.

Picture stolen from the Internet.
And in searching the Internet for articles about this particular book cover, I found a nice article on the designer, David Pearson. This book is part of a series of reissues of George Orwell's books.

Incidentally, here -- from an Ebay auction -- is a photo of a 1955 Penguin edition of "1984."

No black bars on this one. From Ebay.


Mark Simonson said...

Wow, what a great concept and execution.

mrmonkey23 said...

I read about those on Boing Boing a little while ago... their post has images of a couple other Orwell reissues that are pretty nice as well, although not as brilliant as the 1984 one:

I bet that cover has sold a lot of books.