Collecting Coralie

Another in, what I'm sure will be, a long series about Judging books by their covers.

Unless you're a designer AND a book geek (like yours truly), you've probably not heard of Coralie Bickford Smith - but I bet you've seen her book covers.  

Coralie is an art director and illustrator over at Penguin Books and is part of the team responsible for reintroducing the classic style, imprinted, clothbound cover on Penguin's re-issued classics. (Think Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Pride and Prejudice, Great Expectations).

These book covers are a book geek's dream. They harken back to a time when the book was a substantial object - something to be appreciated not just for its contents but for its coverings. These are books that aren't just good reads, but feel good in your hand, as well as look good on your shelf.

At around $20 each (new), their price tag is a little on the heavier side for classics that can be gotten for next to nothing in the paperback section. But these aren't just collectibles for book lovers, they're also collectibles for design lovers. They're not just books, but objets d'art. 

Although Smith balks at defining her style (and honestly, it doesn't need to be defined), it's rather clear that she takes a lot of inspiration from the Arts & Crafts style of the early 20th century. Fitting, since she says of this series that it was all about "evoking a pre-computer era of craftsmanship and fine binding." [Here's where I channel my innermost geek and proclaim, in Wil Wheaton form, 'SQUEE!'].

You can check out more of Coralie Bickford Smith's designs at her Web site. And if you see her designs at the bookstore, don't just walk on by, stop, pick 'em up, admire them... and if you dare, buy one (you'll be glad you did).

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