Penguins new ad campaign celebrates well-read books

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These are lovely pics, and really well done adverts. Hooray books!


I try to take care of my books, but I have a few that would fit in well with this campaign, in spite of my best efforts.


Yeah, I have a 1974, fifty-fifth printing Ballantine Books edition of The Hobbit that is literally laminated with extra-thick packing tape. And I had to to glue up the spine to keep the pages from falling out, and add some packing tape to the inner pages. I think I’m a year or so out from needing to break out the glue again…

The weird thing is, it’s not my only copy of The Hobbit… I have something like five or six different editions.


See, I don’t really get this. Yeah, it’s got sentimental value, but it is inherently a disposable object (since I doubt it is a hardcover book, at least originally), and as you said, you have other copies. I’m all for frugality, but at some points it’s time to let it go.

A much-read copy can have substantial sentimental value. Plus, favorite editions can go out of print.


Hard stop. The Hobbit is my favorite book (part of why I have so many copies), and I’ve had this edition for something like 25 years. It’s not the first edition I ever read (that was a hardback, with Tolkien’s illustrations in every chapter, and it was a library book), and I can’t really say that it’s even my favorite edition, but I love the physical object. It’s one of the few possessions I’ve managed to keep for so long, it’s like an old friend. Some people keep locks of hair from old lovers, or baby clothes and baby blankets, or good luck charms. None of those are my cup of tea, but I get it.

Also… inherently disposable? A book is inherently disposable? I’m a librarian, so I’m heavily biased, but… man, we have very different philosophies when it comes to books.


I think it’s the idea that a paperback book isn’t designed or assembled as well as hardbacks are, added to the disposable nature of our society.

Although, for a long time when I was in my teens I was a member of the Science Fiction Book Club, and talk about cheaply made hardbacks.

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A paperback book I’m inherently disposable, the text is not.

But I guess this is just another time when my emotions don’t work like other people’s emotions.

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I once found a paperback copy of Hamsen’s Hunger with a bite taken out of it. I think it had been chewed by a dog. Still readable, though.




Shakespeare’s folios were mass produced and cheap. Some of his more famous contemporaries and rivals (well, famous at the time, anyway) produced handsome, expensive editions of their works. Only a few people could afford those books, so they didn’t spread into the culture, they survived in libraries and private collections. As a result, those authors and playwrights are studied only by scholars, if at all.

You can’t really separate text from container – if I write my magnum opus in the sand on a stormy beach, both text and container are disposable. I may as well have never written it. A paperback book may be cheap, but they tend to make a lot of them, and they can be found all over the place. As a result, they tend to be the things that outlast a culture.

Nah, I’m a librarian, so I have a different view of information, containers, texts, what survives and what doesn’t. In my experience, hardbound books are more likely to be discarded and not replaced; they’re expensive, heavy, hard to carry around, and best suited for libraries and private collections, which are subject to fires, disuse, mold, and (in the case of private libraries) heirs who could give a shit and just trash the whole collection.

Paperbacks seem disposable because they’re cheap, but that’s part of their lasting power. They’re cheap, lightweight, easy to replace, and will stay usable when the lights go out or the Internet gets turned off. In four or five hundred years, when future archaeologists / anthropologists explore our ruins, they’ll find more paperbacks than anything else, and that will be what informs them of what we valued and how we lived.


My mother lost her mind if anyone cracked the spine of a book, let alone fold down a page edge. My paperbacks have cracked spines, folded down page edges, pieces of envelopes as bookmarks, and sometimes even penciled notes (underlines for favorite quotes, and occasional “!”, and the correction of typos that slipped by the editors.) I can’t imagine throwing any of them away.

I even buy unloved books at garage sales and turn them into art projects rather than see them get tossed.


That makes sense - I have two copies of The Lord of the Rings - the copy my grandfather gave me when I was fifteen which is no longer remotely readable and can barely be considered a book and which I will never get rid of, and a nice modern edition which can actually be read.


A book, even a bad one, is never a disposable object and if it’s one you love even less so.


They are the fabric of our lives.

How many Penguins?

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I love these and think they are making a subtle point about the advantages of real physical print media over that other kind that is now ubiquitous to the point of endangering the former. The information carried in these personal editions of well known books goes far beyond what can be captured in a digital copy.

We shouldn’t pretend this information is unimportant for the sake of promoting the new.

I also need to point out that the book with a ripped off front cover was most likely found in a bookstore dumpster. Generous of Penguin to recognize this segment of their market.

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Clearly, frugality isn’t the issue.

I love these journals made from library discards:


I can’t say in absolute terms, but there is one standing on my TV set right now.