Bloomsbury Group

•2009-Apr-24 • 2 Comments

From The Bookseller (via Bloomsbury):

Bloomsbury editor-in-chief Alexandra Pringle has put together a collection of brightly packaged, mostly comic novels from the first half of the 20th century and called it The Bloomsbury Group. All have been out of print but are being referenced with nostalgic affection on the blogosphere.

The list will launch in August with six paperbacks, including Frank Baker’s Miss Hargreaves, an “endlessly surprising fairytale from the 1930s”, Rachel Ferguson’s “charming” The Brontës Went to Woolworths, and Joyce Dennys’ Henrietta’s War, “a hilarious, wry, but moving social sketch of life in rural wartime Britain”.

Pringle said that she was struck by how many books being discussed on literary blogs were out-of-print period pieces. “Reading exchanges on the blogs set me thinking about what it is we like to read and how we find those books we know we will enjoy and treasure,” she said. “While the publishing industry chases the new, the young, the instantly commercial, readers are often looking for something else—for a kind of enduring quality.”

After conversations with bloggers such as dovegreyreader, randomjottings and others, Pringle and paperback editor Tram-Anh Doan turned to the London Library, Amazon and secondhand bookshops to locate copies of the books involved. Further recommendations followed from Bloomsbury executive director Richard Charkin, who suggested Wolf Mankowitz’s 1950s East End tale A Kid for Two Farthings, and from entertainer Barry Humphries, who rang Bloomsbury to recommend Ada Leverson’s comedy of married life, Love’s Shadow.

Bloomsbury will launch a website intended to become a home for more reader recommendations, and will promote with bookmarks, showcards, greetings card sets and seaside rock.

The first six titles will launch on 3 August 2009 in the UK. No word on North American availability at this point.


Penguin English Journeys

•2009-Apr-13 • 1 Comment

After Great Ideas, Great Loves and Great Journeys, April 2009 saw the publication of English Journeys, another beautifully designed pocket format series from Penguin UK.

Click on the covers for full size images

The series was published on 2 April 2009 in the UK (£4.99 each), and is due to arrive here in Canada on 27 May 2009 (CAD 9.99 each).

The Political Mind

•2009-Apr-9 • 1 Comment

This attractive paperback edition of George Lakoff’s The Political Mind is due out in May from Penguin USA, with simultaneous publication in Canada.


Notice how the paperback edition has dropped the references to specifically American politics found in the text and illustration of last year’s hardback cover design:


The paperback edition immediately captured my interest, while I barely even noticed the hardback when it came out. Obviously, the fact that I’m not American has something to do with that, but the striking design of the paperback is what really grabbed my attention.

Penguin Celebrations Canada

•2009-Mar-31 • Leave a Comment

Following on from the original British series of Penguin Celebrations that came out in 2007, Penguin Canada have decided to have a go as well, with fifteen contemporary Canadian classics hitting bookshops on 17 February.


Curiously, although the back covers announce a website at, they seem to have forgotten to buy the domain and/or put the website up. All the same, this is a fun initiative that aficionados of classic Penguin design are sure to enjoy.


How’s that for a coincidence?

•2009-Mar-29 • 1 Comment

For their new French-language edition of Klas Östergren’s modern Swedish classic Gentlemen, Flammarion have chosen the exact same cover image as did Penguin for a previous edition of Brideshead Revisited.


I don’t have enough of a photographic culture to know whether this is a well-known photograph that’s widely used, or if this really is a massive coincidence. Feel free to chip in with any additional knowledge you may have…

This reminds me of another conincidence involving a Scandinavian novel when 10/18 published Café Zambèze — the Danish novelist Søren Jessen’s first book to be translated into French — on 20 March 2003, and then St. Martin’s Press used the same cover photo for Augusten Burroughs’ memoir Dry that came out on 2 June 2003.


In this case, as I own a copy of Café Zambèze, I can report that the photograph is credited to Swedish photographer Björn Keller, but again, I simply couldn’t say if this is a widely used photo or not.

The Jewish Messiah by Arnon Grunberg

•2009-Feb-19 • Leave a Comment

Brilliant Dutch novel, published by in the USA (and Canada) by Penguin and in France (and Canada) by Héloïse d’Ormesson.

The Jewish Messiah – cover design by Rodrigo Corral Design / Christopher Brand
Le Messie Juif – cover illustration by Emmanuelle Anquetil, integrated into Héloïse d’Ormesson’s standard cover design template

Curiously, it does not appear to have been published in Britain.


The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, featuring Egon Schiele

•2009-Feb-8 • 9 Comments

The forthcoming Penguin Classics edition of Rilke’s The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, originally announced for 2008, is finally coming out this Spring/Summer. Curiously, as Gallimard did with their Folio Classique edition of the same book (1991), Penguin is also going with an Egon Schiele reproduction to illustrate the cover. Coincidence? I think not; despite the 18-year interval separating the two publications, this seems to be a case of great minds (or rather great publishers) thinking alike…