My Little Golden Books

20 May

Look inside The Poky Little Puppy on Amazon.

It seems only right that I should begin my book design scrapbook with those books that very first piqued my interest in reading and, you could say, my appreciation for books in general: My Little Golden Books. Especially The Poky Little Puppy (which I now have to thank for an unhealthy infatuation with strawberry shortcake) and Scuffy the Tugboat.

The reason (aside from pure nostalgia) that I thought it worth including the My Little Golden Books in my book design scrapbook is because they are deliberately designed as a ‘collection’. There are a number of traits that makes them obviously Golden Books, the most obvious of which being the distinctive golden spines and the pattern design on the inside cover with the ‘This Little Golden Book Belongs To’ plaque. By creating a collection, the publisher (or designer) instantly creates a sense of need: a person buying the books won’t want just one, they’ll want the whole set so they can line them up on their bookshelf with all the spines together. (Or at least that’s what I know I did as a kid.)

The individual traits (the illustrations and stories) of each book are then fitted into the wider ‘frame’ of the golden book. You can see with The Poky Little Puppy that the internal design is very simple: it’s just a matter of picture up the top, words down the bottom or vice versa. In fact, I think the edition they’re printing now is exactly the same in terms of design as the one I had when I was little (at least, the typeface looks like it’s even older than I am!).

I think it is worth noting how the My Little Golden Books are designed to be a collection because similar techniques can be seen in play with what Penguin is doing with their Great Ideas Series and Popular Penguins now. I think that, in the face of new technologies, people’s ideas of why they want a book and what they want it to be are changing and book design is necessarily changing too. There is much more emphasis on making a book a commodity, and I think that’s what making it a part of a wider collection does: it makes book as an object just as, if not more, important as the book as a story. Which seems a fairly smart thing to do, given that the book as an object is one obvious characteristic an ereader won’t ever be able to replicate.


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