I’m rather (prematurely) excited about Penguin’s upcoming range of Little Black Classics. A bookish take on the Little Black Dress, Penguin are creating a set of 80 books with no more than 64 pages each to celebrate its 80th birthday. Each book is short enough to read in one sitting, just like an LBD might be worn for a few hours in the evening. The books are priced at just 80p each, and, as each book has a sequence number on the front, I can imagine that they also expect loyal customers to buy the whole range as a set.
Some sample covers can be seen here, and the design of the range is really stunning; classic and traditional, but with a modern, minimalist twist. What’s more interesting, though, is the content. The books are unusual and have been described as ‘surprising’. The Bookseller reports that ‘among the Little Black Classics will be “unfamiliar works from very familiar authors”, including Jane Austen’s The Beautifull Cassandra, Charles Dickens’ The Great Winglebury Duel, John Keats’ The Eve of St Agnes, and Edgar Allen Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart.’
The publishing director of Penguin Classics, Simon Winder, says, ‘Our hope is that everyone looking at the Little Black Classics will notice and enjoy quite different things, but also that they will trust the series enough to try things they have never heard of.’ I have been very focused on digitalisation in publishing recently, so it’s lovely to see innovation in the form of a cool twist on the traditional paperback.
The Little Black Classics are unfortunately not being released until February next year.