Yellow jackets

8 October 2011

Publishers mostly believe – probably rightly – that their brands make little difference to book buying habits, because readers are more interested in authors. But this isn’t always true. There are moments when publishers break these surly bonds: one thinks of Penguin, especially in the days of their colour-coded jackets, of Picador in the ’70s, of Calder and Boyars. Design always has something to do with it.

I was thinking of this because I noticed some science fiction and fantasy reissues – in the distinctive Gollancz yellow – to mark the 50th anniversary of Gollancz. (They seem to have been out for a few months but I noticed them only because of the ‘serendipity search function’ of a bookshop window.)

I read more science fiction when I was young than I now care to remember, much of it from the library, and the Gollancz yellow jackets did for a title exactly what good branding is supposed to do; they acted as assurance in a market where quality was variable. A yellow Gollancz science fiction title was invariably worth reading.

The list of the Gollancz 50 reissues can be found here. I’ve written here about Pavane by Keith Roberts, one of the 50.

The pictures in this post were taken by Andrew Curry. It is published here under a Creative Commons licence: some rights reserved.

 

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One Response to “Yellow jackets”

  1. Joachim Boaz Says:

    I agree — invariably worth reading — but sadly, deprived of some of the best cover art ever — as you probably know 50s, 60s, 70s science fiction novels are decked with a wide assortment of avant-garde art inspired by Tanguey and the like (Richard Powers) and cool collages (Hoot von Zitzwitz) and the gorgeous machines of Jerome Podwil. I usually pay attention to the content of the Gollancz publication series by procure the original paperback editions….


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