Make the Old New Again; or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Penguin’s Classic Redesigns

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Book design, Publishers and publishing, Book industries and trade


The design and branding strategies employed by Penguin Books in the redesigns of their public domain and Classics titles demonstrate a valuing of the book as an object that is not necessarily reliant on the words inside. This paper examines three ways in which these redesigns communicate on an extratextual level — by appealing to the human impulse to collect and categorize, by building upon the veneration books have always carried within our society, and by encouraging the reader to think of each book as an aesthetic extension of his or her sense of self. In understanding that the relationships readers form with their books are not confined to the texts themselves, Penguin is able to ascribe exclusive value to public domain works and, in doing so, convince consumers to repurchase old favorites again and again.


Paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of either the Master of Arts in Writing: Book Publishing, or the Master of Science in Writing: Book Publishing.

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