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Responses by Sam Voulters, campaign and Tom Etherington, design, Penguin Classics

Background: Every reader has had the experience of falling in love with a classic. We wanted to showcase books that demonstrated evidence of these relationships and told stories beyond those printed on their pages, whether through their cracked spines, dog-eared pages or the furiously scribbled notes in their margins. Books are made to be read, and this campaign makes the case that the most beautiful books are the ones that show signs of having left their mark on the people who have read them.

Reasoning: The campaign celebrates those classic books. The Penguin Classics list is so broad and diverse that the campaign could have included any number of readers, but when we were finding interviewees for our magazine, The Happy Reader, we approached talented people who have excellent taste in books. Around half of the books featured are from Classics readers via Twitter.

Favorite details: Seeing the response to the campaign on social media. People started sharing photos of their Penguin Classics, and their stories: who gave it to them, where they read them and how it changed their lives.

Visual influences: We commissioned Lol Keegan to photograph the books. The key was to pick up all the worn features of the books, hence the stark contrast and heavy shadows. Irving Penn’s rubbish project was mentioned when we discussed the campaign. Poster advertising for books and publishing is usually quite formulaic, involving several quotes from reviewers, a copy line, a few logos and a 3-D mock up of a book. So for this campaign, it felt appropriate to stand out by doing the opposite. We reduced the elements of the poster down to what we felt was absolutely necessary, with unusually small type and generous white space. As a result, the posters stand out for being so simple and different.

Anything new: There’s a great design parable where a designer was once asked to design a logo as icon as the Apple logo. They responded, “Make a company as iconic as Apple, and I’ll make a logo as iconic as the Apple logo.” We were reminded about this when we saw the response to the campaign on social media. People could relate to the campaign because we all have battered books that have been read, reread and loved on our bookshelves. There is integrity to the campaign that could only work when you are promoting something that truly matters to people.

penguin.co.uk/penguin-classics

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