Gifting a book by its cover: Christmas gifts as heirlooms


F Scott Fitzgerald novels designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith for Penguin

In a recent article in the Guardian, Stuart Walton asks: “Do books furnish a room, as Anthony Powell’s Bagshaw insists? Or are they just a massive encumbrance?”.

It depends on the book, surely. Any designed by Coralie Beckford-Smith would add beauty and delight to any room.

Coralie designs for Penguin, and her books would make the most gorgeous Christmas presents. You would hardly need to wrap these F. Scott Fitzgerald novels — think how beautiful they’d look under the Christmas tree, tied with just a silver or gold ribbon and gift tag.

F Scott Fitzgerald Tender is the Night, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith (front)F Scott Fitzgerald Tender is the Night, designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith

Under their dust jackets, they’re elegantly simple — these are books you’d want to keep forever.

Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol", Dante's "Inferno"

On a more seasonal note, Coralie has also designed the Penguin Clothbound Classics version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.

Dante’s “Inferno” might seem less apt as a Christmas gift, but if you celebrate the Epiphany (when in Italy the Befana does her rounds) it would make a good (and less messy) stand-in for a lump of coal, albeit a very nice present indeed for someone whose behaviour has been less than perfect.

You can see more of Coralie’s books, and other lovely gift ideas (including a canvas book-bag), on Penguin’s Christmas Gifts page.

By Marian Dougan

Published by Marian Dougan

Marian is a translator and editor (specialising in web content) currently based in Glasgow, Scotland. Marian previously lived in Italy for over 20 years, working as a language teacher, translator and policy analyst with the British Embassy in Rome. A qualified member of the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) and its Italian-language and ITI Scotnet networks, she is currently Scotnet's Convenor and Deputy Webmaster. From 2003 to 2006 Marian taught translation skills at the Italian Department of Glasgow University and now gives Master Classes as part of the new Masters in Translation Studies course. She also conducts web-writing and usability workshops to help people improve their websites and communicate more effectively with their readers, users and customers. In September 2014 Marian obtained User Experience Certification, with specialisation in Web Design, from the Nielsen Norman Group. She loves language, especially English, and is convinced that learning languages opens up people’s minds and horizons (and increases their brainpower!). To share her enthusiasm, she advises schools and educational authorities on language skills and enterprise. She gives talks to pupils on how to combine language studies with other subjects and so enhance their potential and increase their career options. Marian is an active member of organisations such as: Scottish Council Development and Industry (SCDI); Association of Scottish Businesswomen; Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Scotland. She also loves architecture, design, fashion (British Vogue!), cities and chocolate. She’s a great fan of Twitter and you can also find her on Linkedin.

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  1. Wonderful ideas! Thanks for sharing. My business gift this year became classical Swedish Christmas songs played by a Swedish Symphony Orchestra. Enjoy the holidays!

  2. The covers are beautiful, indeed. But I noticed one more feature which makes them so cool and popular: each spine, except for a title, has a unique graphic design, making it easy to distinguish from the other books. It shortens the time of searching for the right book on a shelf.

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