Penguin’s Gothic Reds

Adding my voice to the chorusofpraise for Penguin’s Gothic Reds series. Interviews with talented designer Coralie Bickford-Smith can be found here and here.

I’m a big fan of the Red Classics editions: affordable, well-produced mass markets. Their Gatsby is the most pleasant reading edition I’ve had since the mid-90s lime spine edition with it’s Tony Tanner introduction and gorgeous automotive cover. And I recently read their A Confederacy of Dunces, having turned my nose up at the ubiquitous Grove/Atlantic edition.

(Note to Grove/Atlantic: please discontinue your disreputable but presumably lucrative backhander with whichever glue supplier insists on adding an extra 50 per cent to the weight of every book. Books should not tip over backwards on the shelf, international glue surpluses notwithstanding.)

The Modern Library trade paperbacks are still my edition of choice, but I have a lot of admiration for the Red Classics project. They seem to be trying to find the perfect balance between accessible, browser-friendly editions—at a low price point—with a measure of respectability for the book snob. Like me. Anyone can trash up classics in an attempt to court a mass market (movie tie-ins, I’m looking in your direction), and anyone can produce a lacksidasical in-house series in pursuit of high margin. But it takes quite a lot of imagination to make classics interesting enough they will actually move off ‘staff picks’ displays at bookstores. Bravo.

Anyway, these editions look great on their own or together; the design is—in a word—spectral.