Thursday, 1 December 2011

Strangely Familiar

This has been the series look of Penguin Modern Classics in the UK for several years: bold, dramatic text in Avante Garde Gothic, left-aligned, for both author and title. Instantly recognisible to those of us in the Commonwealth...


..and this is the series look for 'Vigo Essential Classics', yet another charge-for-classics-on-the-Kindle outfit, publishing from June this year, and surely on by coincidence also making use of Penguin's famous shade of orange (which they've been using since the 1930s)...


..and this is the cover for an upcoming book from a (very reputable) publisher of international crime, Bitter Lemon Press...


A question, then--when does this sort of emulation cross the line, given that neither of these covers is a parody of the Penguin design?

6 comments:

matthew. said...

At least the typeface being repeated isn't Papyrus or Comic Sans. Or for that matter, the ubiquitous Helvetica.

Biblibio said...

I would say the Vigo edition looks far more like a Penguin copycat, enough to potentially confuse a reader. I'm really not sure, though, what to think. On the one hand, it's clearly a copycat image. On the other hand, can a publisher patent a brand design so vaguely? Obviously Vigo can't use the little penguin image, but are they forbidden from using that particular font, or having that clean strip with the publisher's name at the very bottom of the cover? I'm honestly not sure.

Matt said...

They've also pilfered the gray bar at the bottom of the cover from the previous design for Penguin Modern Classics.

StuckInABook said...

The Vigo cover surely crosses the line? As Matt says, the silver line, the orange, the font, the alignment... The other I would just about forgive.

MissDisco said...

I'm more puzzled by that last book having two authors. Is it a translation, or two seperate things? I've never seen a novel with two authors.

JRSM said...

Good points all: the Bitter Lemon book is borderline, though it's hard to see how any book designer working in the UK at the moment wouldn't be familiar with the Penguin look, but the Vigo cover is definitely hoping some people will be confused and buy them rather than Penguin.

MissDisco, it does happen (see Gaiman and Pratchett's 'Good Omens' for example), but it's rare. More confusingly in this case, the book's website only talks about one of the authors, completely ignoring the other.