Verdier poche by Pierre di Sciullo
As the blog develops, I plan to cover a great many of the collections that exist within French publishing houses. We’ll begin today with Verdier poche, a relatively new collection de poche launched by Éditions Verdier in May 2006, with a design concept by Pierre di Sciullo. As explained in my (slowly expanding) glossary, a collection is analogous to an imprint in English publishing, although usually with a stronger brand identity reinforced by a more or less standardized cover design.
Éditions Verdier is a literary publisher with a varied catalogue that specializes in French & European literature, philosophy, Judaism, Islam and the social sciences. This collection is as varied as the catalogue itself, showcasing the best of the Verdier backlist, as well as select works from those of other publishers and even a few inédits. Since the inception of Verdier poche eleven months ago, they’ve published everything from bilingual German-French poetry collections from the likes of Hugo von Hofmannsthal and Rainer Maria Rilke to contemporary fiction, literary criticism and philosophy, without forgetting of course the poetry of 14th century Persia and 17th century Japan, nor indeed a study of the Poem of Parmenides. Verdier plans to publish about twenty poche (11cm x 18cm) titles a year, retailing for about $10-20 each in Canada.
Presented below are the covers for the first sixteen titles published. Click on a cover for the full size image.
Absolutely brilliant design, wouldn’t you agree? Notice how the size of the letters in the title is almost inversely proportional to the number of letters in the title, and also how the box containing the information about the translation (if applicable) is always of the same width as the box containing the name of the author. Within this standarization, there’s still quite a bit of variation in terms of the background colour and the placement of the various elements.
On one point there is a striking similarity between these covers and those of the Vintage Crucial Classics series issued by Random House UK back in 2003 (cover images here). Both have a randomly placed circle on each cover containing the same stylised ‘V’ as a branding element (‘V’ for Verdier; ‘V’ for Vintage). In the case of Verdier the circle is of a greyish hue and the stylized ‘V’ is part of the phrase ‘Verdier poche’, while the Vintage circle is a transparent watermark with a ‘V’ that stands alone. Still, they really do look quite similar as exactly the same ‘V’ is used in both cases. Freaky.