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Behind the scenes: how we created this week's amazing Penguin Classics inspired cover

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You may have noticed that the print edition of Stylist wasn't around at your local station this week. Well, fear not, your favourite magazine hasn’t disappeared; we’re just taking a week's break to have a well-earned rest and get ready for some of the exciting things we have planned for the autumn.

In its place, however, we've got a very special digital edition that you can download on your phone or tablet - all centred around books. And we're particularly proud of its cover, based on possibly the most iconic design in recent literary history, the Penguin tri-colour.

This year has seen some epic publishing moments: from a little-known author becoming a literary sensation thanks to the morning commute (The Girl On The Train) to the ‘discovery’ of a writing legend’s lost novel (Go Set A Watchman) but one of the biggest stories of the year is the 80th birthday of Penguin Books.

This is the brand that brought Emily Bronte to the masses, went to court over DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960 and published Salman Rushdie’s controversial 1988 novel The Satanic Verses (causing Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini to sentence the author to death for ‘insulting’ Islam). It’s the publisher behind such diverse names Jane Austen, Marian Keyes, Franz Kafka, Roald Dahl and Jacqueline Wilson.

Launched in 1935 by Allen Lane, the company was created as a response to the lack of good, affordable literature available to the average reader on the street. Lane had the ingenious idea of selling paperbacks for sixpence and within two years sold three million books. It’s a formula that’s still paying off: one in every 32 books sold in the UK is a Penguin Classic. 

And we can't get enough of the format, so for our cover, we combined the two ideas to create a very special cover. Our picture researcher Nicole Holcroft-Emmess, says "we started with the idea of an ice lolly melting on holiday because you were so distracted by your book. When we mocked it up, the Penguin Classics ice lolly was born."

The Penguin Classics design is so instantly recognisable, it was the perfect way to marry the idea of books and holidays. We spoke to the team at Penguin about using their famous look and started work on making it a reality.

The cover had to be shot with its own photoshoot. Nicole says "We worked with Ice Kitchen on the ice lolly design who were fantastic and made some amazing lollies for us and even brought us some of their famous ice lollies to eat on shoot day which was much appreciated being under hot studio lights all day. (They actually have an ice lolly recipe book out now if you fancy making your own.) We also had Dot Laser engrave some ice lolly sticks, so it took a couple of weeks with co-ordinating their design and production."

Like any photoshoot, it had its trials and tribulations, "the lolly was a complete diva. It was slipping and sliding everywhere and took forever to melt. The original idea was for it to melt and reveal the sell on the stick but it ended up looking quite messy and we thought biting it would look a lot cleaner and also lend itself better to the sell 'which one will you devour first?' 10 ice lollies, one blow torch and a brainfreeze later we had the shot!"

From there, our design team went to work animating the ten shots into a lolly being hastily devoured by a Penguin-loving reader, ready to be uploaded to our digital edition.

To see the finished result, download the edition here: app.stylist.co.uk. We’ve also curated a list of the 100 hottest titles to read this summer – from exciting new releases to old favourites. We’ve also unearthed a few literary features from the Stylist archives plus there's a new book-related Style List and a publishing twist to all our regulars.

And if missing Stylist happens more often than you'd like, why not subscribe to the digital edition and it will download to your phone or tablet for free every Tuesday afternoon.


To mark their epic anniversary, next month Penguin will be releasing complete boxsets of their 80p Little Black Classics (featuring such revered names as Edith Wharton and Thomas Hardy) and launching a week-long Penguin Pop-Up Shop in Shoreditch, London in collaboration with Boxpark and Waterstones.

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