Draw Your Own Adventure

Penguin’s just announced a new series of My Penguin classics with “naked” front covers—white “art-quality” paper, blank save for the Penguin logo:

Blank Emma cover

It’s up to you to clothe them, in illustration or collage or whatever, and if you e-mail it to Penguin they’ll post it to their online gallery (presumably only if it’s not infringing someone else’s copyright or offensive to Community Standards).

So my first thought, being three weeks into DrawMo! (and at least three days behind in daily drawing), is, “What, so I can screw up the first attempt and then have to buy another copy of the book?” Very clever, those Penguin people—way to flog that backlist!

I see the market for this series as (a) artists who are much more confident than I, (b) besotted parents who frame every one of their children’s drawings, and (c) Lionel Shriver.

There are six titles in the series:

  • Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
  • Jane Austen, Emma
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Crime and Punishment
  • The Brothers Grimm, Magic Tales
  • Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
  • Virginia Woolf, The Waves

In other words, my least favorite Austen book, a version of Grimm that’s not the good gory one I grew up with, and four other books that I’ve managed never to read. (My ancestors chose the name “Amos” coming through Ellis Island; our name in the Old Country is believed to have been “Ignoramus.”)

According to the Penguin Blog, these books release at the end of the month, so they’ll be available when I’m in London the first week of December. Should I buy any? What would you do for the cover of any of these? Do you think this is a good idea? What do you book jacket designers make of this?

[Cross-posted to Clusterflock]

7 thoughts on “Draw Your Own Adventure

  1. I think they look gorgeous! As is. About the only thing I can draw well is stick figures . Perhaps I may feel the urge to do some odd collage but chances are they’ll remain blank.

    The Classics branch of Penguin seem to be going all out these past few years to get people buying books. It is heartening to see even if I may not like all of the results.

  2. Yes, the blank look is rather soothing, isn’t it.

    I was a little disappointed that they chose to print color on the spines. Since most books spend their lives spine out, the real fun part might be designing some kind of spine treatment that would run across multiple books in the series—like on the Casanova books, which I was just admiring yesterday on my friend Helen’s shelf. (Helen stacks the books vertically, so that the naked lady appears to be standing.)

  3. That’s a good point, I hadn’t thought about the spines. (Wicked look for the “Casanova” books.) One could use it as a good excuse to take the books out and encourage one to get through the really big TBR piles.

  4. Ah, they are pretty, just sitting there. But am afraid I see these ending up remaindered rather quickly. White covers scuff so badly in shipping, in the store,etc. And the art quality paper…smudged with coffee rings, yogurt, dark chocolate–yeah, mine would be a collage. I was also surprised to see the color on the spine but it is a practical necessity, I think.

    More cool spine treatments: 4 vol. set by Anthony Powell (Univ. Of Chicago) & Robert Musil 2 vol. boxed set (Knopf). And that’s just one side of the bedroom.

  5. Ah, yes, I was working at PEN when that Robert Musil translation came out, and there was a set taunting me from the award submissions shelf. I hoped it would go up for grabs and that I would be the one to grab it. Never happened.

  6. Oh, another lovely boxed set Tales of Chekhov. Todd is already angling for this, though we own a previous edition of the complete Chekhov (also by Ecco). He will eventually come up w/some reason it is a necessity.

  7. […] when i stumbled about india amos’ blog i perked up when i saw the title ‘design your own adventure‘. hurrah! i thought, penguin are releasing a series of ‘choose your own adventure’ books. but it is not to be. they are instead releasing a series of classics with a blank cover, so readers can design and create their own. and that to me is just as exciting. […]

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