SDS 3.10 – Black or White

Ah, we managed to catch An Ode to Penguin, an exhibition of Penguin books by Books Actually! It was at The Arts House’ Gallery, at the second floor of the building.

The green ticket was the student discounted one at $6 and the orange ones were the regular tickets at $9. You could get a discount at some stores including Books Actually with the orange ticket since they had a promotion going on. Besides the ticket, we got a Penguin badge too!

The gallery isn’t exactly that big but Books Actually managed to put quite a lot of Penguin stuff in there with their smart use of boards and panels of books.

Ah yes, the guided tour was available too. Pretty much you just asked whoever was at the table selling the tickets if one of them could give a tour. We wandered around first before asking for the guided tour just in case we missed out anything that wasn’t written on the information sheets there.

Penguin’s Crown Jewels were – Ariel by Andre Maurois, A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemmingway, Carnival by Compton Mackenzie, Madame Claire by Susan Ertz and The Edwardians by V. Sackville-West. Those were the classic (well, to us now) books that were one of the first ten titles published by Penguin.

Panels and panels of books! I liked how they displayed it. The books are from different time periods from when Penguin first started to now. What’s interesting is that their branding is insanely good. Some authors had specific graphics on their covers or maybe they had a deal that you can only have X graphic on it or no graphics except the title on it.

Notice how the non-fiction book covers are? Penguin probably doesn’t publish those kind of titles nowadays since we have the internet to discuss topics such as those. Look below those books at the red, orange and blue titles. We found out that the books are categorized from which country the story comes from!

Ah, the book cover layouts. The Marber grid was used and is rather iconic for the book covers for Penguin. You can note from how the old books were designed in the previous pictures to this format. Besides the Marber grid, eventually they had also the horizontal striped design.

See, this is a good example to see how it was used. It’s all Animal Farm but from the right to left, you can see how the book covers were published the first time to now.

Nowadays the covers are designed in varied styles. It’s also probably because we have more printing technology compared to the past. I like the Little Women one with its silly comic bits on the cover.

Though this is an Ode to Penguin, we got to learn of the other imprints such as Puffin and Pelican! Puffin was more for children’s books and Pelican was for serious subjects like non-fiction.

Anyway, we got to see other limited stuff too like tiny Penguin vans, their cups and oh my! Really limited designed books. For one thing, this version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover was embroidered by Paul Smith.

We were told it that this book was evaluated to be around $7000 now! There’s only 1000 copies of that version in the world, I wonder which number this book was. Made me go “ARRGH!” since the books were just THERE.

What if there were evil book fiends who swiped it or did a special heist that included smoke bombs or something.

It was safe but ooh-er at us being able to go really up close to expensive books.

And that was it for the gallery! It was fun learning the history through the guided tour, it was informative and the staff were all pretty friendly. Also, you could buy notebooks, pencils and assorted Penguin stuff at the cashier there. I’m sure you can buy some of them at Books Actually even if the exhibition is over now. Perhaps not all of the items but most of it should also be there.

So that was cool, Penguin has really good branding efforts once you realize why the book covers were designed that way for readers to look at.


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Well, this is seriously Sarah and that's all you need to know for now.

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