One of my favourite things that Penguin does is their collections of little books in a set - Great Loves, Great Journeys etc. The best of them (& they clearly agree with me here) is the Great Ideas series, of which the fifth set of 20 is about to be published. The Great Ideas books are small (a little over 100 pages, in most cases), relatively cheap (<$10) books, offering a variety of essays from some of the great minds of all time. And, best of all, they are beautifully designed...
And one of my favourite things that the Book Depository does is offer half-price pre-orders on most books. So, over the last couple of months, I've pre-ordered the bulk of the new set in dribs and drabs. For about four bucks a pop! Thus, sometime after late August, I'll get a whole stack of gorgeous little books containing interesting little essays - some from writers I've never heard of before, some from authors I've always meant to get to, and a couple from some old favourites.
Here are some of my favourite designs from the forthcoming fifth series:
(Better quality photos are available on the Flickr page of series designer David Pearson, who's one of my favourite book designers. Go look! They really give a good idea of the tactile nature of these books, which are all debossed and lovely to touch.)
Silly Novels by Lady Novelists, George Eliot
On Conspiracies, Niccolo Machiavelli
Some Extraordinary Popular Delusions, Charles Mackay
We Will All Go Down Fighting to the End, Winston Churchill
Of Human Freedom, Epictetus
Nationalism, Rabindranath Tagore
The Perpetual Race of Achillies and the Tortoise, Jorge Luis Borges
The State as a Work of Art, Jacob Burckhardt
Night Walks, Charles Dickens
Some Thoughts on the Common Toad, George Orwell
Pretty great, in my opinion. And that's before you even open them!
What's your favourite? I think the Churchill and Orwell ones are mine - in fact, I already own a book that contains all of the pieces included in the Orwell, and am just buying that particular one for the cover.
(Yeah, I know it's sad. But it was about $4.20, so I can live with the shame.)