Judging Books by their Covers

Some bookworms are library borrowers, some minimalistically shed the weight of their books in favour of e-readers. However, many of us still like to do have a good hardback, and just the physical aspect isn’t always enough. Book-lovers often have a certain aesthetic they desire in what they read, from vintage and second hand to elaborate new editions. Here are some of the editions that are definitely on my list:

Vintage Penguins

Not in print anymore, these iconic old editions are really for book aficionados. They come in a rainbow of colours representing different genres from the classic orange fiction, to red plays and cerise travel writing. I’m currently working on acquiring at least one of every colour for my shelves.
Pocket Penguins


A modern update on the vintage penguin classics, this collection is a colourful compilation of western literature, with different shades signaling the different languages of the original text. This has a bit more of a modern take than other collections, including many 20th Century novels and the block colours and pocket size emulate penguin’s signature style.
Penguin in Bloom


A decorative collection of books targeted at kids, or adults who are just big kids, these beautiful hardbacks are adorned with flowers and simple illustrations, each reflecting the novel. Fans of children’s books will be all over these and rightly so, my only wish is that there were more books in the series!
Penguin Drop Caps
Only penguin would release a collection with such an eclectic mix of novels as this series. The collection consists of 26 novels, each assigned to a letter according to the surname of the author. I won’t be buying the whole collection but I’m pretty sure the book for my initial ‘E’ was made for me, as a gorgeous orange edition of George Eliot’s Middlemarch.
Vintage Classics – Austen and Woolf
Ireland (1)
These beautiful paperback editions have trumped most hardbacks for me – the intricate design of Emma being my favourite. However, the modernist take on Woolf’s novels is stunning and so fitting. Even the bleaker Bronte collection is beautiful and well-pitched, however, I’ll take my leave when it comes to the Dickens collection, which is just a bit plain and too far removed from the others for my liking.
Penguin English Library
These stunning yet simple paperbacks are a lovely way to fill your shelves without spending a fortune on heavy and expensive hardbacks. They feature a range of vibrant colours with patterns relevant to the novel. As well as being pretty they are easy to carry around and won’t break the bank.
W H Smiths have released a series of ‘yellow-backs’ for the 225th Anniversary of company, which started out as a railway stall seller. These editions emulate the yellow-backs they would have sold on the company’s inception and include striking retro images on the bright yellow front along with black-edged pages. As well as being a must for anyone interested in physical books and the history of publishing, they just look incredible!

Collector’s Library

These stunning little striped hardbacks with gilt edges are perfect for the classic stories that they hold. However, a year ago Pan Macmillan took-over the independent publisher and now these gorgeous books have been rebranded and in my opinion the new versions have lost something of their classic quirk. However, I’ve seen a few second hand bookshops in which these editions are still plentiful, so nab a few while you can!

It’s clear that Penguin is leader of the pack when it comes to nice editions but they aren’t the only ones out there and depending your aesthetic there are a range of wonderful editions. What are your favourite editions?


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