Monday, May 18, 2009

A Bookgasm: Penguin's My Penguin Lets You Design Your Own Cover

Once upon a time, this morning, I was reading Steppenwolf over an extra-large coffee. (Which is brilliant. Supersize something that I actually drink by the gallon.) I took frequent breaks to underline whole pages and scrawl in the margins and, twice, to sketch print ideas. During one of the breaks, I hatched a blog post about the book, where I declare it my own Catcher in the Rye. I haven't finished it yet, so I'll hold off on posting at length. I started it during the Bird's first trimester when I could read for all of 5 minutes before I passed out. But I am obsessively, deeply entrenched in this novel. Affected. Infiltrated by turns of phrase and literary devices and lit on fire by themes and metaphors. FIRE.

After my booking and coffeeing, the intense desire struck me to make my own copy of the book. I have wanted to learn bookbinding for ages, and in my obsessive thinking, it seemed a Good and Fabulous Plan to learn the skill just so I could disassemble a copy of Steppenwolf and bind it up in my own cover.

This led to a bit of Googling for past covers, whereupon I discovered an infinitely easier way to enDaisyfy a copy: Penguin has a service called MyPenguin offering several titles with blank front covers. The image here is by Goldspot. I have no bloody idea who that is, but the cover's pretty cool. At first I thought they printed a design for you, but no- they send you a naked book. Which is cheap. I think - £5 is cheap, yes?

When I finish Elephant Girl, I'm going to play with a Steppenwolf cover. There may well be an entire body of art or something on the theme. On fire, people... oh yes.

(Bee tee dubs, Penguin did not solicit this post or give me any cash. But they totally can! I'll give them Diary of Elephant Girl if they want. Call me, Penguin, because this just totally made you my favorite publisher unless I find out you've done something evil like censoring or not lighting candles at an alter to Herman Hesse every business day or something.  KTHXBAI.)


  1. I never read that! I'm gonna go check it out now :D

    (And blank covers sound AWESOME!)

  2. It's amazing. It's a slow, deep read I think.

  3. Re: bookbinding, "The Decorated Journal" has a lovely section at the back on basic bookbinding techniques. Worth a read (as is its prequel, "The Decorated Page"), especially if you can find them at your local library.

    Obviously there are more in-depth and detailed books on the topic, I should think, but for clear, easy-to-follow instructions, I thought it was fantastic.