Never Judge A Book By Its Cover? This Time You Can!

July 18, 2013

“Never judge a book by its cover.”

Well, these days, I say, “Go ahead and judge away!” Companies such as Penguin Books, Puffin Books, and Barnes & Noble have been commissioning redesigned series of classic books from exceptional designers and letterers, and they are just getting better and better.

For years, publishers have been releasing redesigns of book covers, but mostly done with an internal design team. Not to say these aren’t good, but they don’t generate the same buzz as those done by well known artists.

Here’s a look at some phenomenal examples:

Coralie Bickford-Smith + Penguine Books

Coralie Bickford-Smith is an in-house designer and Penguin Books, and has created a wide variety of redesign collections over the last several years. One of her collections you may recognize is a set of six F. Scott Fitzgerald novels, redesigned in 2010. The cohesive set of bold, two color patterns is a beautifully unique set that really captures the periods and tones of the stories.





She’s also behind the vast collection of Cloth Bound Classics, featuring mono-chromatic, illustrative patterns, as well as a playfully creepy set of gothic horror books. These are only three highlights of her bookwork, jump over to¬†her website to get lost in the rest of her work.


Jessica Hische + Barnes & Noble and Penguin Books

Jessica HIsche is an adorably playful letterer out of San Francisco with a wide variety of work. She was commissioned by both Penguin Books and Barnes & Noble to design and letter two book collections.

For Penguin Books, she created a series of twenty-six books — one for each letter of the alphabet. The books each feature a prominent and elaborate drop cap, letters A – Z, initialing the authors first or last name, and is color coordinated through a rainbow spectrum. The collection is bold and one of a kind, making an impressive statement on any bookshelf! More details on her website.

JessicaHische_Cap1 JessicaHische_Cap2

She was also commissioned by Barnes & Noble to redesign a series of classic books. I’m lucky enough to own three of these foil stamped, leather bound books — the texture and detail is simply breath-taking. Hische does a wonderful job capturing the period and essence of these individual stories, making each a unique and fitting design, while still tying them all together in a cohesive collection. Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein are two of my favorite books, and now they have covers worthy of the story! See more of the covers in this series on her website here.






Dana Tanamachi + Puffin Books

Dana Tanamachi is a graphic designer and letterer who is well known for her intricate and remarkable chalk work. She was recently commissioned by Puffin Books to create Puffin Chalk, a series of children’s books. She, too, does a wonderful job letting each book stand on its own and represent its personal story and personality, while keeping the series strong as a whole. Her work is all done at a large scale, by hand with chalk, and then photographed and re-sized for production. The patience and attention to detail is really inspiring. You can bet that these books will find a spot on the shelf of my future nursery. See more detail and process work on her blog.




Puffin Chalk: Peter Pan from Dana Tanamachi on Vimeo.

With the rise of digital books and tablet reading, I’m thrilled to see this much attention and creativity being applied to design and physical books. The collections just keep getting better and better, and make for an amazing addition to anyones bookcase at home!