Whilst passing through the corridors of Penguin’s children’s division the other day, I came across these gorgeous clothbound versions of some children’s classics on display, including Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, The Wind in the Willows and Black Beauty.
I’m sure that, by now, most people will have seen Penguin’s range of clothbound classics (e.g. Charles Dickens’ titles) lining the shelves of high street book stores, with a surge of other publishers producing equally fancy editions of old favourites. It seems a profitable way of re-releasing the classics in a format that readers will want to collect and put on display, as opposed to downloading them on an e-reader. But, despite these clothbound Puffin’s classics being released as far back as 2010, this is the first I’ve seen of them…
I’m not sure why they’re so hard to come by – I have yet to see them in a UK shop. Have I missed them? Not looked hard enough? Or have they just not been marketed very well here? I showed a photo of the attractive spines to some publishing friends of mine the other day, and they too remarked at how pretty they were and wondered why they’d never laid eyes on them.
Apparently Waterstones do stock them, but with limited availability – so perhaps the chances of spotting them on a shelf depends on which branch you visit. I hate to direct people to shopping for books online, but it seems that it’s the only place I’ve managed to find them (and even then you have to word it correctly, specifying ‘Puffin Classic’ or the exact title you want in any search box, as opposed to any generic ‘clothbound children’s classic’ phrase). This is surprising, given that these are exactly the type of books you imagine would sell in higher numbers on the high street than online. It’s all about the texture and how they feel in your hands – which you just don’t see on a computer screen. Surely those looking for keepsake books are more likely to buy them from a store?
I suppose that, once purchased, the books would make great gifts for children – either those you want to introduce to the classics or those who have already enjoyed them and would appreciate a copy to keep. But if given as a first copy of one of the novels, I do wonder if they’d be built to last… In various places online, some readers have commented on clothbound designs degrading and rubbing off with their fingers – which goes for other clothbound titles as well as these Puffin ones – so it’s questionable whether they’d last being carried around in a backpack or fingered through over time. That’s what makes me think that they’re more likely to be picked up by readers just like myself – those who love children’s books and want any excuse to re-read them, and equally love nothing better than an aesthetically pleasing cover… Either way, they’re certainly a pretty addition to any bookshelf. If you can get your hands on them, that is!