I thought for a change I would write a piece that wasn’t directly related to the shop as such. Today I’m going to write about book covers and specifically the cover of the 1972 paperback of A Clockwork Orange published by Penguin.

ClockworkAs somebody who has been in the book trade for most of my career I am only too aware of the value of a good cover design – regardless of what we may think we do judge books by its cover.

 With A Clockwork Orange art director David Pelham had been let down by an illustrator and also by Kubrick’s team. Pelham later claimed that because of the time restraints of the project the final cover is littered with mistakes. For fuller details of the design of this cover follow this link and scroll down to the print of the cover.

A Clockwork Orange has, like most classic, has gone through many reissues – each bringing its own new cover design. A Google images search brings up lots and lots of variations.


Aside from Pelham’s 1972 I also really like the Penguin Modern Classic edition that retains the minimalism of Pelham’s cover and manages to reference both the film and the novel. Penguin Modern Classic Edition

I like the simplicity of Pelham’s image – the bowler hat and the suggestion of braces immediately suggest the film (incidentally, I’ve never got on with the film at all). However it is the image of the eye that holds your gaze, like an optical illusion look at the eye for a moment and it stays with you. And perhaps this is the point about a good cover design; it stays with you and becomes part of the cultural iconography.