Penguin Books

Penguin Books

Penguin Books is a British publisher founded in 1935 by Allen Lane. Lane's idea was to provide quality writing cheaply, for the same price as a pack of cigarettes. He also wanted them to be sold not only in bookshops but in railway stations, general stores and corner shops. Its most emblematic products are its paperbacks. The first Penguin paperbacks were published in 1935, but at first only as an imprint of Bodley Head with the books originally distributed from a church crypt.

Today Penguin Books is a division of the world-wide Penguin Group and is owned by Pearson PLC. Its counterpart in the United States is Penguin Group (USA). Penguin is the lead publisher for the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia and India.


The publication of literature in paperback, then associated mainly with poor quality, lurid fiction, did not appear viable to Bodley Head and the deliberately cheap price of 6d. made profitability seem unlikely. This helped Allen Lane purchase publication rights cheaply for some works, from other publishers convinced of the short term prospects of the business. The purchase of 63,000 books by Woolworth paid for the project outright, confirmed its worth and allowed Lane to establish Penguin as a separate business in 1936. By March 1936, ten months after the company's launch on 30 July 1935, one million Penguin books had been printed.

From the outset, design was essential to the success of the Penguin brand. Eschewing the illustrated gaudiness of other paperback publishers, Penguin opted for the simple appearance of three horizontal bands, the upper and lower of which were colour coded according to which series the title belonged to; this is sometimes referred to as the horizontal grid. In the central white panel, the author and title were printed in Eric Gill's sans serif and in the upper band was a cartouche with the legend "Penguin Books". The initial design was created by the then twenty-one-year-old office junior Edward Young, who also drew the first version of the Penguin logo.

The colour schemes included: orange and white for general fiction, green and white for crime fiction, red and white for travel and adventure, blue and white for biographies; and the rarer purple and white for essays and belles lettres and grey and white for world affairs. Lane actively resisted the introduction of cover images for several years. Some recent publications of literature from that time have duplicated the original look.

Lane expanded the business in 1937 with the publication of George Bernard Shaw's "The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Socialism and Capitalism" under the Pelican Books imprint, an imprint designed to educate the reading public rather than entertain. (The Pelican series, in decline for several years, was finally discountinued in 1990.) The war years continued the company's success with healthy sales of titles, meaning that Penguin suffered less from the paper rationing which afflicted other publishers. "Aircraft Recognition" by Saville-Sneath, RA, was a best seller. In 1940, the children's imprint Puffin Books began with a series of non-fiction picture books; the first work of children's fiction published under the imprint was Barbara Euphan Todd's "Worzel Gummidge" the following year. In 1945 Penguin began what would become one of its most important branches, the Penguin Classics, with a translation of Homer's "Odyssey" by E. V. Rieu. Between 1947 and 1949, the Swiss typographer Jan Tschichold redesigned 500 Penguin books, and left Penguin with a set of influential rules of design principles brought together as the "Penguin Composition Rules", a four page booklet of typographic instructions for editors and compositors. Tschichold's work included the woodcut illustrated covers of the classics series (also known as the medallion series), and with Hans Schmoller, his eventual successor at Penguin, the vertical grid covers that became the standard for Penguin fiction throughout the 1950s. By this time the paperback industry in the UK had begun to grow, and Penguin found itself in competition with then fledgling Pan Books.

By 1960, a number of forces were to shape the direction of the company, the publication list and its graphic design. On 20 April 1961, Penguin became a publicly listed company on the London Stock Exchange; consequently, Allen Lane had a diminished role at the firm though he was to continue as Managing Director. New techniques such as phototypesetting and offset-litho printing were to replace hot metal and letterpress printing, dramatically reducing cost and permitting the printing of images and text on the same paper stock, thus paving the way for the introduction of photography and novel approaches to graphic design on paperback covers. In May 1960, Tony Godwin was appointed as editorial advisor, rapidly rising to Chief Editor from which position he sought to broaden the range of Penguin's list and keep up with new developments in graphic design. To this end, he hired Germano Facetti in January 1961, who was to decisively alter the appearance of the Penguin brand. Beginning with the crime series, Facetti canvassed the opinion of a number of designers including Romek Marber for a new look to the Penguin cover. It was Marber's suggestion of what came to be called the Marber grid along with the retention of traditional Penguin colour coding that was to replace the previous three horizontal bars design and set the pattern for the design of the company's paperbacks for the next twenty years. Facetti rolled out the new treatment across the Penguin line starting with crime, the orange fiction series, then Pelicans, Penguin Modern Classics, Penguin Specials, and Penguin Classics, giving an overall visual unity to the company's list. A somewhat different approach was taken to the Peregrine, Penguin Poets, Penguin Modern Poets, and Penguin Plays series. There were over a hundred different series published in total.

By the end of the 1960s, Penguin was in financial trouble. Ultimately, the company was bought out by Pearson Longman on 21 August 1970, some six weeks after the death of Allen Lane. A new emphasis on profitability emerged and, with the departure of Facetti in 1972, the defining era of Penguin book design came to an end.

Just as Lane well judged the public's appetite for paperbacks in the 1930s, his decision to publish "Lady Chatterley's Lover" by D. H. Lawrence in 1960 boosted Penguin's notoriety. The novel was at the time unpublished in Britain and the predicted obscenity trial not only marked Penguin as a fearless publisher, it also helped drive the sale of at least 3.5 million copies. Penguin's victory in the case heralded the end to the censorship of books in Britain, although censorship of the written word was only finally defeated after the "Inside Linda Lovelace" trial of 1978. Other controversial titles published by Penguin include "Spycatcher" and "The Satanic Verses". In the same tradition of courting controversy, Penguin published Deborah Lipstadt's book "Denying the Holocaust" which accused David Irving of Holocaust denial. Irving sued Lipstadt and Penguin for libel in 1998 but lost in a widely publicized trial.

Recent problems

But in the early part of the millennium, the publisher has encountered several problems, especially in distribution of its books in the UK during much of 2004, when a new computerised system at its Rugby warehouse failed to identify the books needed by booksellers. [ [ 'Supply hits Penguin sales', "The Bookseller", 26 May 2004] ] [ [ 'Penguin is still learning how to succeed at Rugby', "The Bookseller", 28 October 2004] ] Authors lost on sales of their books and hence of royalties. They waged a long campaign against the publisher for its incompetence. [ [ 'Authors get their own back', "The Bookseller", 30 September 2004] ] [ [ 'Authors to press Penguin', "The Bookseller", 21 October 2004] ] Most recently, its US associate, Penguin Riverhead has published a fabricated autobiography, known as "Love and Consequences", by the new author Margaret Seltzer. It was a tale of sex, drugs and gangs in Los Angeles, but turned out to be a hoax when the author's sister revealed the extent of the deception. It has been withdrawn as of March 2008, and a book tour cancelled. The genre is well populated by similar works of deception, and is known as Misery lit. Penguin failed to check the background of the author, who turned out to be white, affluent and middle-class, and one who attended creative writing courses.Fact|date=March 2008

First titles

The first twenty books published by Penguin under the Bodley Head imprint were:Fact|date=June 2007

*"" — André Maurois
*"A Farewell to Arms" — Ernest Hemingway
*"Poet's Pub" — Eric Linklater
*"Madame Claire" — Susan Ertz
*"The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club" — Dorothy L. Sayers
*"The Mysterious Affair at Styles" — Agatha Christie
*"Twenty-Five" — Beverley Nichols
*"William" — E.H. Young
*"Gone to Earth" — Mary Webb
*"Carnival" — Compton Mackenzie
*"South Wind" — Norman Douglas
*"The Purple Land" — W.H. Hudson
*"Patrol" — Philip MacDonald
*"The Thin Man" — Dashiell Hammett
*"Four Frightened People" — E. Arnot Robertson
*"The Edwardians" — Vita Sackville-West
*"The Informer" — Liam O'Flaherty
*"Debonair" — G.B. Stern
*"The Strange Case of Miss Annie Spragg" — Louis Bromfield
*"Erewhon" — Samuel Butler

Penguin Classics

The imprint publishes hundreds of classics from the Greeks and Romans to Victorian Literature to modern classics. For nearly twenty years, variously colored stripes at the top of the spine indicated the original languaage. In 2002, Penguin announced it was redesigning its entire catalogue, merging the original Classics list (known in the trade as "Black Classics") with what had been the old Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics list, though the silver covers for the latter have so far been retained for most of the titles. Previously this line had been called 'Penguin Modern Classics' with a pale green livery.

The redesign — featuring a colourful painting on the cover, with black background and orange lettering — was well received. However, the quality of the paperbacks themselves seemed to decrease: the spines were more likely to fold and bend. The paperbacks are also printed on non-acid-free pulp paper which, by some accounts, tends to yellow and brown within a couple of years. [ [ Why English books are crummy. - By Christopher Caldwell - Slate Magazine ] ]

The text page design was also overhauled to follow a more closely prescribed template, allowing for faster copyediting and typesetting, but reducing the options for individual design variations suggested by a text's structure or historical context (for example, in the choice of text typeface). Prior to 2002 the text page typography of each book in the Classics series had been overseen by a team of in-house designers; this department was closed in 2003 as part of the production costs rationalisation of the Classics list, and any design work is now done by editors and outside suppliers.

Penguin Celebrations

In 2008, Penguin re-released 36 modern popular works using Penguin's distinctive late 1940s style, rebranded 'Penguin Celebrations' [,,9780140911572,00.html?strSrchSql=penguin+celebrations/Penguin_Celebrations_Set] . Following the 1940s style; Green is for mystery, Orange for fantastic fiction, Pink for distant lands, Dark Blue for real lives and Purple for viewpoints.

The 'Penguin Celebrations' books are as follows.

Any Human Heart - William Boyd
What A Carve Up! - Jonathan Coe
Everything Is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer
Notes On A Scandal - Zoe Heller
How To Be Good - Nick Hornby
The Other Side Of The Story - Marian Keyes
English Passengers - Matthew Kneale
The Impressionist - Hari Kunzru
A Short History Of Tractors In Ukrainian - Marina Lewycka
How I Live Now - Meg Rosoff
The Accidental - Ali Smith
White Teeth - Zadie Smith
Adrian Mole And The Weapons Of Mass Destruction - Sue Townsend
Regeneration - Pat Barker

Science & Non-fiction
Hegemony Or Survival - Noam Chomsky
The Revenge Of Gaia - James Lovelock
Empire - Niall Ferguson
The Classical World - Robin Lane Fox
Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
The Fabric Of The Cosmos - Brian Greene
Freakonomics - Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
Fast Food Nation - Eric Schlosser

Mystery & Crime
The Secret History - Donna Tartt
A Certain Justice - P.D. James
Rumpole and The Penge Bungalow Murders - John Mortimer
The Beach - Alex Garland
The Chimney Sweeper's Boy - Barbara Vine

Adventure & Travel
The Shadow Of The Sun - Ryszard Kapuscinski
Congo Journey - Redmond O'Hanlon
Dark Star Safari - Paul Theroux

Leonardo da Vinci - Charles Nicholl
Jane Austen - Claire Tomalin
The English - Jeremy Paxman

Essays and Belles Lettres
The Consolations Of Philosophy - Alain de Botton
The World According to Clarkson - Jeremy Clarkson
Letter From America - Alistair Cooke


;Penguin Press
* Classics and Modern Classics
* Allen Lane
* Reference;Penguin General
* Viking
* Hamish Hamilton
* Fig Tree
* Michael Joseph;Children's
* Puffin
* Ladybird and Warne;ePenguin;Rough Guides;Dorling Kindersley

Trademark disputes

Penguin Books has been in some disputes over names and trademarks. In 1986, it pushed Penguin Software to give up its name. More recently, it published a book "" which caused problems for the unrelated user of that domain, and then tried to acquire the domain.Fact|date=March 2008

ee also

*Penguin Modern Poets
*Penguin Great Ideas
*Misery lit

Further reading

* Penguin Books, "Fifty Penguin Years" 1985. ISBN 0-14-008589-0
* Phil Baines, "Penguin by Design: A Cover Story 1935-2005" 2005. ISBN 0-7139-9839-3
* Gerald Cinnamon, "Hans Schmoller, Typographer", "The Monotype Recorder" (New Series), 6 April 1987)
* Jeremy Lewis, "Life and Times of Allen Lane (Penguin Special)" 2005. ISBN 0-670-91485-1
* Tim Graham, "Penguin in Print - A Bibliography", 2003. Penguin Collector's Society.


External links

*Official web sites
** [ Penguin UK]
** [ Company history at Penguin UK]
** [ The first 3000 titles]
** [ Penguin Collectors Society]
** [ Essay on the history of Penguin Books]
** [ Foley Collection — articles and extensive lists]

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  • Penguin Books — ist der weltweit größte Publikumsverlag für Literatur und Sachbücher.[1] Eigentümer des Unternehmens ist als Holding die Pearson PLC. Der in den Vereinigten Staaten beheimatete Teil des Unternehmens läuft unter dem Namen Penguin Group (USA), das… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Penguin Books — [Penguin Books] a British company publishing ↑paperback books (= books with paper covers). It was started in 1935 and was the first to publish books of good quality in this way at reasonable prices. See also ↑Puffin Books …   Useful english dictionary

  • Penguin Books — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Penguin. Penguin Books est une maison d’édition britannique fondée en 1936 à Londres. Allen Lane (1902 1970) commence sa carrière d’éditeur chez Bodley Head, la maison d’édition progressiste appartenant à son… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Penguin Books — У этого термина существуют и другие значения, см. Penguin. Логотип издательства Penguin Books (рус. Пенгуин букс)  британское …   Википедия

  • Penguin Books Limited —   [ peȖgwɪn bʊks lɪmɪtɪd], von Sir (seit 1953) Allen Lane (* 1902, ✝ 1970) 1935/36 in London gegründeter Verlag, seit 1937 in Harmondsworth (heute zu London). Der Verlag gehört seit 1971 zur Pearson Plc …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Penguin Books — a British company that publishes paperback books (= books with paper covers). It was started in 1935 and was the first to publish books of good quality in this way at reasonable prices. See also Puffin Books. * * * …   Universalium

  • Irving v Penguin Books and Lipstadt — Irving v Penguin and Lipstadt Court High Court of Justice (Queen s Bench Division) Full case name Irving v Penguin Books Limited, Deborah E. Lipstadt …   Wikipedia

  • Penguin Group — Parent company Pearson PLC Founded 1935 Headquarters location City of Westminster London, England …   Wikipedia

  • Penguin Classics — is a series of books published by British publisher Penguin Books. Books in this series are seen by literary critics as important members of the Western canon, though many titles are translated or of non western origin. The first Penguin Classic… …   Wikipedia

  • Penguin (Verlag) — Penguin Books ist die zweitgrößte Verlagsgruppe der Welt, die in vielen englischsprachigen Ländern auch der Marktführer ist. Besitzer ist Pearson PLC. Der in den Vereinigten Staaten beheimatete Teil des Unternehmens läuft unter dem Namen Penguin… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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