Random House UK Paperback Wodehouse

As I mentioned on a couple of occasions back in May 2007, the UK paperback rights to the oeuvre of P.G. Wodehouse have reverted back to Random House, after having been with Penguin for quite some time. British Random House paperback imprint Arrow has announced a total of 46 titles for publication in 2008 in both the UK and Canada, starting off with 18 titles on 1 May (24 June in Canada), followed by an additional 15 on 7 August (23 September in Canada) and a final batch of 13 on 2 October (Canadian release date TBA). Without further ado, I present to you the first twelve cover designs from the new Random House UK Paperback Wodehouse.

[Click on a cover for the full size image]

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I must confess, I’m not too crazy about these designs at all. I much prefer the Wodehouse cover illustrations done in recent years by David Hitch for Penguin UK and Marc Rosenthal for Random House USA. Take, for example, Uncle Fred in the Springtime, with the Penguin UK design on the left and the Random House UK cover on the right:

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or Leave it to Psmith, with the Random House USA cover on the left and the Random House UK offering on the right:

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As you can easily see, these new designs from Random House UK simply come up short. I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, but I wish Random House had stuck with their American art department on this one. *sigh*

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~ by Thomas on 2008-Feb-2.

6 Responses to “Random House UK Paperback Wodehouse”

  1. Well they certainly emphasise the farcical nature of the stories over their superb wit, but I quite like the new ones if only because I’m sick of the old ones… and the Penguin UK paperbacks were always very cheaply bound. Of course none of them can match the delicious Everyman (UK)/Overlook (US) hardback editions.

  2. I like the new covers. The Wodehouse “logo” on the side creates a unified “collection” sort of feel, something I love as a designer but hate as a reader – only because it makes me feel like I have to collect them all! Comparing the US and UK covers, it’s clear that the UK covers are aimed for a different audience (Hugh Laurie and Douglas Adams provide the cover blurbs, as opposed to Anthony Lane of New Yorker “fame”) so the fact that the UK cover is less abstract than the US cover makes sense.

    I love this blog, by the way. Keep up the good work!

  3. I think the new covers are absolutely GORGEOUS! I do understand the attraction of the older covers; they are quite fitting for their time, but I think the new artist has moved the series into the Twenty First Century in an exciting way that will attract a new generaiton of readers!

  4. @Gerald Hansen: I don’t know about moving them into the 21st century and attracting a new generation of readers. I am myself in this new generation of readers (I’m 26 years old), and to me these new designs seem quite old-fashioned when compared to the Marc Rosenthal covers, and even more so when compared to the David Hitch covers. Am I missing something here?

  5. @Mog:

    I like the new covers. The Wodehouse “logo” on the side creates a unified “collection” sort of feel, something I love as a designer but hate as a reader – only because it makes me feel like I have to collect them all! Comparing the US and UK covers, it’s clear that the UK covers are aimed for a different audience (Hugh Laurie and Douglas Adams provide the cover blurbs, as opposed to Anthony Lane of New Yorker “fame”) so the fact that the UK cover is less abstract than the US cover makes sense.

    Thank you for the kind words about the blog, Mog. In response to your comment, I would say that the Penguin UK editions have the most abstract illustrations of all, as well as Hugh Laurie blurbs, so your argument doesn’t really hold up. I would also argue that the Penguin UK edition has its own Wodehouse ‘logo’ that gives the books the feel of a collection. In addition to the covers, the spines of the books even have sublogos that divide them into Jeeves & Wooster, Blandings and ‘Young Men About Town’ subseries.

  6. I agree about the David Hitch covers. Simply the best and real pain to get these days. (Alas, alack, alas!) I have to disagree about Random House U.S. vs. Random House U.K. I think that the U.K. ones are better. Maybe it’s because I’m a Brit, but I find it a lot more comically, dynamic and appealing. The U.S. one looks like it was done by a kid. (Or maybe it appeals to New Yorker readers!)

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