penguin classics

by Grace Bonney

i’ve been spending the last few weeks deep in the new york public library working on our new joint video series (which launches next week!) so i’ve definitely got books on the brain. so i was excited to hear from coralie bickford-smith of penguin classics about these new pattern-inspired book covers. coralie designed this 10 book-series and included a beautiful matte foil design on each piece. i love when covers don’t rely on pretty jackets (i always end up losing those anyway) so these are right up my alley. want to see more? click here to check out penguin classics online.

update: you can buy the books in the uk right here! i’m waiting to hear from coralie about the north america retail link. will add asap!

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  • Thanks for this.

    Link takes you to the big Penguin web site, but when I did a search for one of the titles in your photo, this edition of it did now show up.

  • Oh! That’s so exciting….I want them all. The covers are beautiful, and there’s a good mix of some of my favorites with some that I’ve been meaning to read for ages. Thanks for the post!

  • Oh my gosh. Those are absolutely gorgeous. I collect old and beautiful books (even if I don’t read them, they look beautiful on shelves).
    Are these books up on the Penguin website yet? I had a quick look on the American and UK (As I currently live there) websites, and couldn’t find anything.. What section might they be hiding in?
    I want to know which books are getting the beautiful covers, how much they will be, and where to purchase (Anywhere in the UK?).

    Thanks for another fab blog post, Grace! xx

  • I’m a book designer, and while I’m sad you loose the jackets (oh how much time we spend on them!) I totally agree with you, Grace. These books are absolutely beautiful. I have my grandmother’s and my mother’s copy of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and I just love how these books look similar–very timeless!

  • I actually work at Penguin (US) and I’m almost positive that these editions will be published in the UK. But they can still be ordered by anyone in the US so not to worry!

    That said, I adore these covers.

  • I too am frantically searching for these! I love all these stories and to top them off with these amazing covers = magic.

  • I love these covers and I always take the jackets off my books. I just adore Jane Austen and I can’t seem to find my copy of Pride and Prejudice…..I might have to pick up another one and this would be perfect!

  • These books are beautiful! And while I don’t want to take any business away from Penguin, I recommend also checking out your local thrift store from any hardcovers they might have. A couple years ago, I picked up a bunch of Readers Digest hardbound books from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s priced at ten for a quarter! Their binding isn’t as pretty and the contents aren’t classics, but they have great cover patterns and the “gold leaf” edges to the pages. I just couldn’t resist.


    That means I can see if they have them in store next time I’m downtown! There’s a new Waterstones opening in Liverpool One. Fabulous!

  • Okay, well, with shipping to the US they’re about $32 each…I’d better wait until they’re on sale over here…

  • ah! these are gorgeous… and i am such a sucker for beautiful books (not to mention that some of these are among my favorite titles). thank you so much for the information. i can’t wait for the u.s. link :)

  • I am the publisher of these hardback Classics and want to make everyone aware that for now they are only available exclusive at Waterstone’s in the UK – in all their shops and on their website. But they are avaiable internationally in Europe as well as in Australia, New Zealand and Canada. Next year they will most likely be released to the entire UK trade. I hope this is helpful to everyone and thank you for all your positive comments about these beautifully designed books – they are entirely Coralie Bickford-Smith’s (genius) work.

  • Oooh, gorgeous! I almost never work with new books, but my goodness, I want to cut those up and make purses out of them. I feel a little evil.

  • these are wonderful! I FINALLY started buying art and such for my house…these would be a great addition. thank you :)
    us link would be awesome!!

  • That book cover designed by Penguin made the whole story come to light …
    Books are first bought by the cover ! Thank you

  • I’m a huge fan of Penguin books . They come out with the most beautiful, clever book designs. I think I need these in my life.

    I’m with you, Laura. When it come to Penguin book design, the US gets jipped!

  • Those are fabulous reads. I have some classic children’s books that look like that from before my childhood that are waiting to be placed in the living room when my remodel is done. The colors and designs are perfect for decorating!

  • Greetings, found your site after googling for these – I saw a Dickens’ Christmas Stories edition with this design in a Waterstones in London today, and stupidly didn’t buy thinking I could order one online easily. Turns out not to be the case! Can’t find the Dickens one anywhere, you wouldn’t have any idea where I’d find one, would you? I know it’s a longshot. Nice blog by the way.

  • Apologies, I got that wrong, it was a Whites fine edition and I’ve got it now. Just so I haven’t completely wasted your time, you can see the other gorgeous covers here. I’ll go-way now.

  • I’m waiting on a reply from the Canadian Penguin rep to find out if N. America will be getting these. The Waterstone’s website no longer lists them…sold out, perhaps?

  • If anybody has the ISBN numbers for ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’ and ‘Cranford’ in this collection, could they please send them to me? (Twoosa@aol.com). They are no longer available online and I would like to try and order them in store!

  • I can’t believe these are out of stock at Waterstones. I was waiting for the new year to buy them. Does anyone know the ISBN’s or where I can search them out to get all of them?


  • Apparently Penguin will be trying to sell them in North America in trade papaerback edition for Mother’s Day 2009. Just not the same as hardcovers…

    Here are the ISBNs:

    Madame Bovary (9780141040318)

    Great Expectations

    Sense & Sensibility


    Tess of the D’Urbervilles

    Pride & Prejudice

    Crime & Punishment

    Jane Eyre

    Picture of Dorian Gray

    I can’t find the ISBN for Wuthering Heights anywhere, so if anyone finds it, please post it.

    Penguin has confirmed to me that these are out of print in hardcover format, so best of luck to all in trying to find them!

  • I just went to Borders in Melbourne (Prahran) today and bought 3 of the books. They are so much more beautiful in real life! They only had about 7 out of the collection, but they were selling them for A$19.99 each!

  • These are so gorgeous they are almost edible! For Melbournites, I was able to purchase (today) Great Expectations, Crime and Punishment, Madam Bovary, Tess of the D’Urbervilles at Melbourne Central Borders. I was also lucky enough to get the remaining titles from Borders at the Jam Factory. Good luck! :)

  • Even here in London these are really hard to find, especially in the full range. I’m surprised I haven’t been able to find any on ebay yet.. though I doubt anyone could bring themselves to part with such a beautiful book!

  • ps the ISBN for Wuthering Heights is:


    One thing though, I’ve seen about 5 copies of it in various shops and none of them have the ‘3’ printed at the bottom of the spine. Has anyone else noticed this?

  • Thanks for the Wuthering Heights ISBN.

    Note to all Canadians–Indigo Books has agreed to buy the set and sell the books as remainder books. No date has been given yet, but I think we’re trying to have them for Mother’s Day.

  • Dave (from Indigo) please please please tell me how I can get dibs on when Indigo sells these!! Please god. I’ll kick myself if I miss them.

    Also, can I just say that you are an absolute GENIUS for getting Indigo to do so. Bless your soul.

  • Hi, Anne. All ten books are now in our warehouse, which means that they are all now available for ordering from our website for $14.99 Canadian each:


    Cheers, and happy buying. I completed my set last week, and they look terrific.

  • Dave, do the books contain a notes section in the back of the book, like other Penguin Classics? The ones which correspond to numbered words or phrases in each chapter, in which the notes explain the reference (be it an outdated definition of a word, or explanation of current political or social events being referred to)?

  • Hello i came across 4 of the books in a local Kinokuniya – Madame Bovary, Pride & Prejudice, Sense & sensibility and Great Expectations. It’s about SGD35 i.e. about USD24 each. If anyone wants to order, let me know.


  • I just tried Dave’s link but couldn’t find the books on there. Are they already sold out? Does anyone have any other sources who are carrying the books?

  • I just bought a set from chapters.indigo.ca too! Do a search for DELUXE HARDBACK CLASSICS and you’ll find them.

  • Does anyone know if these are available in US in hardback yet? Just searched Indigo in Canada & the site didn’t show any photos of the books so I don’t know if I would be ordering these. ISBNs didn’t match. Wanted to purchase a whole set. What’s the easiest way for a US purchaser to get these? Thanks.

  • they will be published in the US in November and are on Amazon for pre-order search for the illustrator

    “Coralie Bickford-Smith” and you will find all 10 books

  • Just found out about these books today and there’s no way I’m waiting until November. Big thanks to Dave and Indigo!! I can’t wait until they come!

  • Thanks to everyone, I saw this picture on my friends blog dying to know where this picture came from, she wouldn’t tell me so you all helped out soo much thanks! BTW- I think she was just interested in the look, I LOVE it all*

  • Hey everybody

    I’m like you all in love with these books. I’m from Denmark and i have no idea how i can buy these books. Could anyone help me?

    Thank you

  • Has anyone who ordered their books from Indigo receive them yet? I live in San Francisco, and ordered the whole set online in March per recommendation on this feed. Never got them! Indigo finally admitted they were “lost in the mail” and said they would send me a new set via priority mail. That was three weeks ago! Is it a scam?

  • Emily, have you received your books yet? I was about to order two books but now I am giving it a second thought. I’m also in the states.

  • Jessica,

    Just got them today– but Pride and Prejudice is missing from the bunch. It took two months, but I am glad they are here. Just need to track down the one with Indigo now…

  • Yeah so it turns out they are sold out of Pride and Prejudice at Indigo. That’s why they were missing from my shipment (even though at the time I ordered them, in March, they had it in stock and I paid for it, received confirmation, etc.) Not great customer service.

  • I found them on Amazon US by searching for Coralie Bickford-Smith. They have 8 of the 10 in the series – minus Madame Bovary and Crime and Punishment.

  • I just ran across these at a bookstore in China of all places! Only bought “Jane Eyre” today, but I’ll definitely be picking up a few more! Let me tell you, the covers are GORGEOUS.

  • These are BEAUTIFUL! Amazon says they’ll be shipped on 27 October hurrah! Books are the only non-essential for which I set myself no budget – excellent that I can now also count them as decoration. Yessssssssssss.

  • Borders in Parramatta (Sydney) have the complete set! $19.99 each… I just bought one today… I hope more classics are going to be printed like this… I’d love an ornate copy of “Dracula” :)

  • A further ten titles have recently been released. Search Waterstones website “Exclusive Penguin Classic”. Titles include ‘Women in White’, ‘Hound of the Baskervilles’. ‘Odyssey’, ‘Shakespeare’s Sonnets’, ‘Emma’, ‘Treasure Island’, ‘Little Women’, ‘Oliver Twist’ and ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’. All as beautiful as the first set ;-)

  • Oh, why can’t I get Crime and Punishment and Madame Bovary in the US? I am so sad!

    Penguin, please don’t tease us so!

  • I love these books but have only been able to find 7 of them in the United States. I’ve seen the photos online of the others in the collection and am wondering when/if they will be sold in the U.S.?

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