March 2015 | Nate Pedersen

Penguin's Little Black Classics

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To commemorate its 80th birthday in February, Penguin UK released 80 titles as "Little Black Classics." The pocket-sized books were all issued with distinctive black covers and an attractive price point of 80 pence a piece, providing Penguin collectors with an interesting--and cheap--addition to their collections.

The series has also proven very popular with general consumers: over 70,000 copies sold in the first week of publication. These sales figures are particularly impressive considering all 80 titles are in the public domain and are freely available on sites such as Project Gutenberg.

This is not the first time Penguin has pulled this marketing stunt. Twenty years ago, in 1995, Penguin released 60 classics at 60 pence a pop to commemorate its 60th anniversary. Presumably we have something similar to look forward to in 2035, when Penguin reaches 100.

While the Penguin 80 are only available at the moment in the UK, an American release--perhaps with different titles--is likely to follow.