Maigret Part 2: Penguin Maigret

Georges Simenon’s Maigret: Part 1    Part 2    Part 3

Since 2003, Penguin have issued three different paperback series of Georges Simenon‘s Maigret novels in the UK and the US, each with a different cover design.

[Click on a cover for the full size image]

Modern Classics from Penguin UK, 2003-2004 [14 Titles]


Red Classics from Penguin UK, 2006-2007 [9 Titles]


Penguin USA, 2006-2007 [10 Titles]


As always, I’m sure there will be plenty of people to disagree with me, but I — as is often the case, it has to be said — quite prefer the British covers, especially the Modern Classics covers from 2003-2004. Collages are simply too much fun. The Red Classics are quite nice too, all bursting colours and enigmatic silhouettes. The American covers, however, are kind of boring. Although originally published in the 1930s, 40s, 50s and 60s, the novels have a real contemporary feel to them, and the black and white photography and pseudo-art deco theme the yanks have come up with doesn’t really do this justice. They feel more like cover designs for something like Agatha Christie’s Poirot; not a bad thing in and of itself, but out of place in this context. Sadly for those unilingual Canadians who aren’t able to read in our other official language, these American editions are the only ones Penguin has decided to make available for sale in Canada. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: we truly are the forgotten children of the Commonwealth.

Below, I’ve prepared side-by-side comparisons for the seven titles that are present in each of the three Penguin Maigret series shown above. One title per row with, from left to right, the cover design from Penguin UK Modern Classics, Penguin UK Red Classics, and Penguin USA respectively.


I feel this proves my point quite conclusively, but whatever your opinion on the relative merits of the various designs, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s rather curious that between 2003 and 2007, a single publishing company would deem it necessary to come up with three different cover schemes for a several decades old series of Belgian crime novels. Perhaps they should have stuck with the designs they first came up with in 2003, since they’re the best of the lot.

Georges Simenon’s Maigret: Part 1    Part 2    Part 3


~ by Thomas on 2008-Feb-25.

2 Responses to “Maigret Part 2: Penguin Maigret”

  1. Christ those US covers are awful! What were they thinking? Perhaps the designers fear that readers won’t be able to see the author’s name instantly. The Modern Classics are effortlessly superior.

  2. @John Self: This is to my mind a perfect example of the British-American divide on book design. The worst affront is not only that these terrible American designs exist, but they’re very often the only ones we’re allowed to buy here in Canada. One day I’ll do a post to show what Riverhead Books (a.k.a. Penguin USA) did with Nick Hornby paperbacks. Atrocious!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: