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Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover

4.42  ·  Rating details ·  334 ratings  ·  72 reviews
From Drop Caps to Deluxes, Penguin Creative Director Paul Buckley presents a visual overview of the innovative covers that have put Penguin Classics at the forefront of the book design world
In Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover, Paul Buckley showcases more than ten years of stunning cover designs from Penguin Classics. This curated tour begins with the now-iconic redesign
Paperback, 287 pages
Published July 26th 2016 by Penguin Books
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Average rating 4.42  · 
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 ·  334 ratings  ·  72 reviews

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Hannah Greendale
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover celebrates Penguin's 70th anniversary with an expansive collection of brilliant cover designs, replete with behind the scenes tales of how the covers came to be and a peek at some covers that never made the cut.

Booklovers will easily identify with the fundamentals of this book: A book cover demands our initial engagement with a work. You may not think a cover reflects your own thoughts of a book, but it evokes a response and inspires a reader's imagination to beg
Julie Ehlers
I received Cover to Cover in the mail last Thursday, and that evening I decided to look it over while watching an episode of The Simpsons. Usually when I attempt this, The Simpsons wins out and the book gets neglected. Not so in this case—I immediately became absorbed in Cover to Cover and couldn’t wait until I had a little more time to give it the full attention it deserved. That moment arrived over the weekend, when I inhaled the whole thing in basically a day.

This beautifully put-together boo
I knew I was going to enjoy this book as I am a lover of book cover design and an entire book dedicated to just that is perfect eye-candy for me.

I learnt so much from this book about the many ways Penguin has to sell you the same book ;). For example you can have James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as a deluxe classic edition with french flaps and thee most beautiful cover designed by Roman Muradov or if you are a drop caps series collector you can own it as a bright pea gre
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
Jan 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
If Cover to Cover were nothing but reproductions of Classic Penguin covers over the years, it would be a book I'd want to spend a few hours with. But as it turns out, and even better, Cover to Cover tells the stories of dozens of the Classic Penguin covers from the past decade. We get to hear from the artists, designers, the editors, sometimes the authors, about what went into coming up with a classic cover. This post mortem treatment allows us to see how much decision making, arguing, creativit ...more
Brian Kovesci
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: design
I love Penguin's covers. I didn't know I could love them more. Then Penguin published a book about their awesome covers.

I'm in love.

Can I please have more? Please? Perhaps Volume 2 could cover Great Ideas, Great Journeys and Great Loves, just a suggestion.
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
Man, this was SO GOOD. I'm a complete book cover snob, and I've always been in awe of what Penguin does with theirs- they're always willing to do something really innovative, creative, and sometimes even risky. Reading about the process behind their most popular classics covers (some of which I have on my own shelf, and have spent many hours admiring) was inspiring, and honestly quite moving- it sounds silly, but I got a little misty-eyed on several different occasions because I was so incredibl ...more
Aug 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: penguin-penguin
It's so pretty!!!! I want all the Penguins!!

(But they didn't talk about the Coralie Bickford-Smith designs?)
The title is misleading, as Classic Penguin is not present.  Whether its the marbel series or anything related to history of Penguin designs prior to creative director Paul Buckley (a guiding force for over two decades), do not appear.  This is a shame, as there is little context to place the beautiful designs present in. This is a coffee table book focused on covers that featured art commissioned by the publisher (including pieces by Mike Mignola, Zohar Lazar and C.C. Askew).  They are stunning ...more
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a really Nice book to Flip through
The only thing I missed was a little summary of each book that was mentioned.
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-own
I'm a sucker for a pretty book cover, and I've always been a fan of the gorgeous Penguin covers. (They're the reason why I own multiple copies of certain books...I just couldn't pick a favorite edition!) So of course I jumped at the chance to read this book. It didn't disappoint! Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover is visually stunning and full of gorgeous book covers. I liked how the books were grouped by collection, and there were a few featured collections I didn't even know about. Some of my fav ...more
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
What a fun book for book lovers! I randomly found this at the library and devoured each page. The designers at Penguin Classics have done an incredible job bringing classics into the 21st century with innovative covers and artwork. This book goes through each cover design, with interviews with the artists, alternate cover art, and descriptions of the process that goes into each book. If you love beautiful books, you'll really enjoy this behind-the-scenes look at it all. ...more
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! The book tells of all the work and thought that goes into the cover designs of all the classic literature books put out by Penquin. It is also filled with gorgeous artwork and illustrations of some of the covers of the classics. This is a book to read and cherish forever. I received this book as a Goodreads first reads giveaway, in exchange for my honest review.
Feb 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: shelf-nonfiction
Unfortunately, this was just another one of those pretty coffee-table type books for me (you know, the ones that are just too pretty so you flip through and don't read the text?). Didn't appreciate the fact that there wasn't even a line about the books being displayed (I know, I know, but still) and to be honest I didn't find any of what was being said interesting. ...more
Mar 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful wonderful collection! I had a wow moment every few pages from the gorgeous creativity of some of the book cover designs. Even the designs I wasn't a huge fan of I could still see how well they meshed with the tone or mood of the book or author. Lots more serendipity involved in the graphic design creativity process than I would have realized after reading the illustrator and designer snippets. Must mitigate desire to buy all the fancy looking books. Might fail. ...more
May 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I find this hectic as an ebook and have ordered the print copy. Will re-read.

Beautiful book.
Feb 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The eye-candy book to end all eye-candy books. It was so marvellous seeing all the styles, artists and their methods/intentions of work.

(Also, the Penguin Threads section? Mind blown.)
Jul 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
4,5 stars

This book is all about covers that were designed for several Penguin Classics collections. It's filled with words from the designers, art directors and illustrators who have done a great job on these beauties. The book has some early sketches (in rare cases) and also gives the word to the designers and illustrators to talk about their process and how they got to the final image of the cover.

Reading this book, you can feel the excitement that the people in this book have for these covers
Oct 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference
Interesting account of how illustrators at Penguin Publishing come up with their covers. This book certainly had me looking for these beautiful editions!
Jenny's Book Life
Sep 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own-it
Final Review for "Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover" by Paul Buckley (**** 4 Stars)

Ohmygosh. If you are a reader/book-sniffer/cover-fondler type OR you love typography, art, art/book history OR you are one of the many who collect Penguin Classics, this book will put you in seventh heaven. It is a collection of the covers of Penguin Classics books dating from 1946 including the backstory and history of how these iconic and award-winning book covers were created. The Penguin Classics designers are p
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
What a glorious book about books! What I particularly love is reading about the design process, and in particular seeing examples of covers which were not selected. Thanks Penguin - now I want to go out and buy every single one! [Or was that your evil plan all along? Mwah hah hah. Well played Random Penguin, well played.] Haven't finished it yet but it's already got five stars in my book. Next day: finished. Five stars-a-go-g0. ...more
This book makes me happy. Not only is the printing high-quality, but a glimpse into the process is what excites me about a book that examines graphic problem solving. We are privy to the thought process behind some great works of art whose job, at the end of the day, is to sell you books you already know or have heard of; how can we give it to you in a new way? Tons of inspiration in here, too.
Nov 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-lovers
For anyone who loves to look at book covers and finds an appreciation for them, this is the book for you! You get to see the hard work Penguin puts in publishing their books shows.
George Dean
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Admittedly, this is more of a glossy coffee table book than a book I’d recommend for reading, but Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover was still a really interesting and unique read. For everyone who has ever judged a book by its cover, Classic Penguin is literally entirely about the covers of books published by Penguin, and the stories about how they came to be created. First and foremost, this is a gorgeous book to peek inside, because it’s lovely to see all the different styles of book design alon ...more
Jun 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It has been a long, long time since I've finished a book in less than two days, but I just couldn't help myself when it came to reading Buckley's Cover to Cover. It is such an interesting perspective on the art of book cover illustration and design, with high-quality photographs of cover art, commentary on the process from editors and illustrators that is both humorous and heartfelt, and detailed narratives about what it is like to be someone who works in the industry of graphic design. So wheth ...more
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 5-stars
I loved seeing all the different Penguin covers. I was interested in seeing the cover series that they release and how they all look together. There are definitely some things that I am going to have to keep an eye out for when I am in used bookstores.

As a book collector, and avid reader, "Classic Penguin: Cover to Cover" greatly appealed to me. Some of the images were true to the story, while others did not fit my interpretation. There were a couple of artists that I absolutely loved and now I
May 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is an absolutely gorgeous book featuring the stories and sketches behind numerous Penguin Classics covers. If you are interested in design, love good art, or are simply an aficionado of beautiful books, you will likely enjoy this volume. In this day of digital everything and books on screens, it's refreshing to the soul to find a publishing house that is committed to not only printing the classics, but to presenting them with gorgeous, modern covers that help invigorate readers, both old an ...more
Chain Reading
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: paper
This visual stunner is jaw dropping. It's edited by Paul Buckley, whose job at Penguin is to match artists with book covers for fancy editions of classics or serious literature where the company really wants to make a splash. Buckley and his supporting team have looked back over their favourites and included them here, with notes from the artists about what the process was like. The book starts out with some of the more edgy, graphic, even gory covers, and eases into the pretty. You never know w ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a very lovely look at all of the editions penguins has come out with for the classics. Not only did I enjoy looking at all of the artwork, but I also really enjoyed hearing the backstory behind design elements and the creators thoughts in some cases.

I think my favorite section was a look behind Penguin Threads. I loved seeing what the other side of the cover was in the original needle point/embroidery.
Lindsey Sparks
Sep 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned-and-read
I loved learning more about how book covers are designed and seeing some of the covers that weren't selected for the final version. I work with designers, so I enjoyed getting insight into how they go through their process. I got this at the Penguin store in Toronto so it also makes a lovely souvenir. ...more
Gwen - Chew & Digest Books -
Being totally obsessed suddenly with covers in general and Penguins imprints especially, this was a really interesting peek behind the curtain on how the artwork for covers happens, sometimes it's easy and there are times that they are pushing the envelope or struggling to make a classic cover different than the last 50+ iterations of it.
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