When I first had a mind to run this little occasional series of post on the blog, I don't think I envisaged that one of my 'I love this book'-books would be a slightly scruffy Penguin paperback but, when I was given this at the weekend, it really was love at first sight.
This book is The Penguin Story, Penguin Book Q21, published in 1956.
It was published to mark Penguins 21st birthday and is just a wonderful little thing containing everything I love. There are articles on the typography and book-design in which Penguin was already a world-leader at this point; there are the most wonderful illustrations of Penguin covers, promotional material and associated images; lovely geeky-stuff like a page of the various Penguin and Pelican motifs used with dates; and more wonderfully than all the rest, a full catalogue of every Penguin book to that date, from every series.
I know, I know, there's the recent publication Penguin by Design, which I haven't yet seen and I'm sure is wonderful. But however good that latest is, it has to be missing the one vital ingredient that this book has in spades... it is, itself, a vintage Penguin paperback! with everything that entails in terms of the look of the book and the feel of the paper.
As ever with Penguin, it is worth paying attention to the cover. So clever in this instance to ignore the idea of a 'Penguin Cover' and to cover the cover, with covers...! The wraparound photograph of the Penguin book display is simply marvelous and no amount of 'retro' marketing is ever again to provide quite such a display in any bookshop.