Brand Awareness: Penguin Classics
Do you think that having a recognizable and consistent look to your books helps with sales?
Elda Rotor: Yes, particularly with our signature black spine editions for Penguin Classics, the uniformity helps consumers, students and book lovers spot our editions more quickly, and with that comes the understanding that the titles are in line with our overall vision for the series, a broad and diverse list of titles, carefully edited, translated and produced.
Do you think of this internally in terms of branding? Are there other aspects of how you publish your books that contribute to the brand identity?
Rotor: We think of the brand recognition every single day, and we also think about what Penguin Classics means as a brand to certain readers and audience, and respect that meaning deeply. As we fully engage in all opportunities we can digitally for Penguin Classics, we also feel strongly that our readers deserve high-quality books, both in content, editorial selection, apparatus, but also in terms of the physical book, with our choices of paper, our interior design and setting, and our overall book package design.
One of the most exciting approaches we take is working closely with our art department in terms of book design. Penguin Drop Caps is a new hardcover series in a design collaboration with our art director Paul Buckley and letterer Jessica Hische, whom we commissioned to create illustrated drop caps for each of our covers, pairing the love of typography and design with the love for books. A lot of bells and whistles with this one, foil-stamping on paper over board, a decorative stain on all three paper edges, illustrated spines, just a gorgeous treatment, a complete package with the idea in mind that a treasured book of literature is gift-worthy and should look like one. This is a brand new series for us but already we’ve received wonderful feedback from book lovers.
Do you think readers care about who publishes a book?
Rotor: I can only speak for Penguin, and the feedback we've received from readers, that Penguin has been a publisher of choice through their lives, because so many important books that mark milestones or epiphanies or memorable scenes of their reading life have been Penguin books. Much of this begins with their reading the classics as students and then continues on.
How do you plan to move forward as you build and grow Penguin Classics in terms of the brand as a whole?
Rotor: I always think of Penguin Classics as a culture, not just a book series, because it has grown organically in this way primarily because of the life around the books that are read, shared, taught and studied. So there are a number of projects we are working on that keep Penguin Classics moving forward, timeless yet trend-setting.
We are launching as an extension of the series a curated selection of lifestyle goods, starting with Civic Classics T-shirts, inspired by our Penguin Civic Classics series edited by Richard Beeman and featuring the striking cover art by Gregg Kulick. We will follow up later in the year with shirts, tote bags, etc., featuring the designs from our award-winning Penguin Classics Deluxe Editions with graphic and comic cover art by notable illustrators.
On the digital side, we have just launched John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men as a deluxe teacher's edition ebook, featuring specially commissioned video clips of students discussing key themes from the work. We plan to build a program of Penguin Classics-hosted events to bring our readers together. And I'm sure there’s more in store.
Related story: Identity Publishing