Penguin Celebrations

On 6 September 2007 Penguin Celebrations were published in the UK, a series of 36 contemporary fiction and non-fiction titles with cover designs derived from the classic Penguin grid. Yes, that’s right: the classic cover grid designed by Edward Young and first used by Penguin in 1935, later updated by Jan Tschichold in 1948. The first mention I’ve seen of these came in the Spring 2008 UK import catalogue from Penguin Canada that I’ve only just received this week. As with the classic Penguins of yore, this new series is colour coded:

Orange for Fiction


Light Blue for Non-fiction, including Science


Green for Crime


Cerise for Travel & Adventure (termed ‘Distant Lands’ in the catalogue)


Dark Blue for Biography (termed ‘Real Lives’ in the catalogue)


Purple for Essays & Belles Lettres


Because the full North American rights for many of these titles are held by American publishers, we in Canada will only have direct access to a paltry list of 12 titles, starting on 1st November 2007. Each book is priced at £7.99 in the UK, and $16 in Canada. As I write this, it is also possible to purchase the enitre set on the Penguin UK website for £191.76 or on Amazon UK for £189.84.


Update March 2009: See also Penguin Celebrations Canada, published on 17 February 2009.


~ by Thomas on 2007-Sep-29.

6 Responses to “Penguin Celebrations”

  1. yummy!…
    [any old excuse to praise your blog and wish you to keep up the excellent, gorgeous, work! ;-)]

  2. We’re told in the UK that these will have just one print run, so catch them while you can, I guess. I admit my weak-kneed ecstasy on seeing them in the bookstore last month turned quickly to disappointment as I realised I had all the titles I wanted. So I just replaced one that has a horrible cover in its usual incarnation (William Boyd’s Any Human Heart). Lovely to behold though.

  3. @sensualmonk: Thanks for the kind words of encouragement.

    @John Self: My first instinct when I came across these was to order in the whole set from the UK, but when I stopped to think which ones I would actually read, I realised that I already own the titles that interest me. This blog is something of a cost cutting measure, as it enables me to collect JPEG files instead of costly books.

    Some of these I’ve actually purchased twice already: an ugly American edition in the first instance because I really wanted to read the book right away and they’re often the only editions we’re allowed to buy on this continent, and then the proper British edition as a costly import because I can’t stand having the American edition on my bookshelf.

    For example, we’re not even allowed to buy What a Carve Up! (pictured above with its classic orange Penguin cover) at all on this continent, as Random House USA has full North American rights for the book and felt the need to change the title to The Winshaw Legacy (complete with the requisite atrocious cover) for the American market. It makes sense though; after all, how on earth is an American supposed to understand the delicious double entendre in the phrase carve up?!?!) Fortunatley, I eventually replaced it with the Essential Penguin Classics edition from 2001. But do I really want to buy it a third time, especially as it’s not one of the twelve titles that will be available in Canada (because Random House USA won’t allow it)? I’m not so sure. Even I have my limits…

  4. Have you seen this, Thomas?

    I resisted buying it the other week. As the reviewer on Amazon says, probably no need for it if you have Penguin by Design. But then, when did ‘need’ ever come into it…?

  5. Back in June I did blog Seven Hundred Penguins when I saw it announced in the UK import catalogue from Penguin Canada, but I have been meaning to give it another mention now that it’s been released (it was delivered to Canadian booksellers on 19 September). Penguin’s given us such a sweet deal that I couldn’t resist buying it (the RRP in the UK is £20, which is the equivalent of $40, but the Canadian RRP is only $30).

    I’ll try to give more detail in an upcoming post, but let me just say for now that it’s not really the same concept as Penguin by Design and is in my opinion a worthwhile purchase for the Penguin enthusiast.

  6. In teresting to compare these with Penguin Australia’s latests brainwave- “Popular Penguins” These are traditional sized, have many of the same titles as Celebrations plus a few extras (50 in all) and retail for $A9.95. This is exceptionally cheap for Australian paperback sales. Nice things about them are- all lettering in Gill Sans, following Jan Tschichold’s rules and covers in a card with a surface texture that mimics the originals from the 40s-really the only design departures are the lack of the words “Complete” and “Unabridged” either side of the penguin and a front cover price. Slightly less nice, but probably a sensible cost control measure is the lack of different colours-all are orange regardless of genre. That said- the shade of orange is well within the range of colours shown by the originals from the 40’s and 50’s. There’s more detail here:

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