Research: Puffin Books Design

I have a selection of ‘100 Hundred Puffin Covers’ I received as a gift, which provides me with a good selection of covers to analyse.

Puffin was founded in 1940, five years after Penguin Books began. It started out as ‘Puffin Picture Books’ aimed at stories for little ones but grew into vast array of literature aimed at children.

As I have a large collection of the covers I decided to group covers by design and therefore analyse them in that manner. Here’s the first set:

Front cover postcards of: 'ABC a baby puffin book by D.M.Chapman' & '1 2 3  a baby puffin book by D.M.Chapman'

Front cover postcards of: ‘ABC a baby puffin book by D.M.Chapman’ & ‘1 2 3 a baby puffin book by D.M.Chapman’

In the image above the two covers sit alongside each other. They hold very similar layout structures. There’s a central illustration, setting out the title with hand lettering/numbers, and sitting the elements on a structure (drums or blocks). They both use three letters/symbols & three blocks. Both designs make use of a limited colour palette. Both also use type to enclose the central image, creating another visual draw into the centre.  Interestingly though both have different drawings of puffins as their logo instead of the same puffin (see bottom left hand corner of both covers).

 

Postcards of Covers of: 'Going to the Opera by Lionel Salter' & 'Going to the Ballet by Arnold Haskell'.

Postcards of Covers of: ‘Going to the Opera by Lionel Salter’ & ‘Going to the Ballet by Arnold Haskell’.

The covers above show book with a very different theme and style to the baby books. They have a much more clear grid based layout, you see the two central vertical lines one in a white block, one in a coloured block. You can also see how they make use of a horizontal line in the image placed across the vertical lines/blocks. Both use black and white with one accent colour, it makes it a simple but striking aesthetic.The covers also make use of serif fonts, a more formal font for a book with an guiding/advising content. The photos also fit with the fact based nature of the content, they show real experiences of/examples of people on stage at an opera/a ballet dancer preparing.

 

Postcard Covers of: 'The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S.Lewis', 'The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien' & 'The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe'.

Postcard Covers of: ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S.Lewis’, ‘The Hobbit by J.R.R.Tolkien’ & ‘The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe’.

The three covers above are an example of covers with a more illustrative feel, but again make use of a simple grid system. There’s three/four horizontal lines, one strip with the title, one of the central illustration, then a small white line and a coloured block for the publishers name to rest on.  All three covers make use of  a serif or script font for the title/authors name, the fonts give a feel of antiquity, but also of something reputable/classic. The illustrative style is different for each cover, but again similar in that it is clearly of the same ilk.

 

Postcard of Covers of: 'A Child's Garden of verses by Robert Louis Stevenson' & 'A Puffin Quartet of Poets by Eleanor Farjeon, James Reeves, E.V.Rieu, Ian Serraillier.

Postcard of Covers of: ‘A Child’s Garden of verses by Robert Louis Stevenson’ & ‘A Puffin Quartet of Poets by Eleanor Farjeon, James Reeves, E.V.Rieu, Ian Serraillier.

The quality of the scan above is poor but I wanted to include these covers. They’re an unusual example of text/title framed by an oval shape. Both are illustrated covers, one with hand drawn text the other with a typed title. Both have an interesting detailed edge to them, with the oval shape for the text to sit on and an oval shaped detailing.

Postcard Covers of: 'The Little Grey men by BB', 'Eleanor Farjeon's book of Stories-Verses-Plays, Illustrated by Edward Ardizzone' & 'The Otterbury Incident by C.Day.Lewis'.

Postcard Covers of: ‘The Little Grey men by BB’, ‘Eleanor Farjeon’s book of Stories-Verses-Plays, Illustrated by Edward Ardizzone’ & ‘The Otterbury Incident by C.Day.Lewis’.

The covers above have a similar grid layout to one’s I mentioned earlier in the post but they differ in one major point. Each title is hand lettered and then encircled by little bubble’s, almost like what call speech bubbles today. They seem to be way of giving the title prominence, the blank background allowing the text to be clearer again the illustration.

 

Postcard Cover of: 'The Wizard of Oz by L.Frank.Baum', 'The Call of the Wild by Jack London' & 'Little Women by Louisa May Alcott'.

Postcard Cover of: ‘The Wizard of Oz by L.Frank.Baum’, ‘The Call of the Wild by Jack London’ & ‘Little Women by Louisa May Alcott’.

The final series of covers I’ll mention are from the Puffin Classics 2008 collection. They have a very modern feel, despite having a similar format in terms of layout to those books from 1940. The layout is slightly different, in that there a three horizontal lines, the central image takes up nearly 3/4’s of the cover, with the logo placed more centrally on that white line. Interestingly the colours of the central image are reference in either the colour of title or bottom blocks colour. I really like how in ‘The Call of the Wild’ Cover, the colour of the moon is echoed in the same colour for the title text.

Spines of Puffin Classics Collection 2008

Spines of Puffin Classics Collection 2008

Finally I want to mention the spine designs of the Puffin Classics 2008 Collection. They really continue the visual language of the front cover, the white band stretches across in the same place as on the front cover. I like the reference to the cover image too, in a small image at the top of the spine. They also retain the same font or hand lettering present on the front cover, adding to the continuity.

I’ve enjoyed looking into the puffin covers as an example of strong cohesive book designs. It’s nice to see that whilst the style perhaps changes/colours look different across the years but the layout used is still relatively unchanged. It’s so effective that there seems little reason to change it.

 

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