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The publishing world’s most famous bird, Penguin, whose colophon is synonymous with paperbacks, has triumphed over two other Penguin Random House imprints, Black Swan and Corgi.
PRH has announced that its Cornerstone and Transworld divisions are to start publishing all their paperbacks under the Penguin brand. Transworld currently publishes paperbacks under its long-established Black Swan and Corgi imprints, while Cornerstone was home to the paperback-only Arrow imprint. All three emblems will now be replaced by the Penguin logo instead to “leverage” the famous brand.
“We are using the Penguin logo for our future paperback publishing. Divisional teams continue to work across titles in both hardback and paperback,” a spokesperson for Cornerstone said. “The Penguin brand is not only the most widely recognised in our business but also as a global consumer brand. This move is an opportunity to leverage the Penguin brand. There are no internal structural implications to this development. Nor are any roles in the company affected by it.”
All those in the industry who have grown up with the Black Swan and Corgi imprints will feel some sadness at the change. Corgi dates back to the 1950s and was home to authors like John Steinbeck and James Michener. Black Swan was founded by Transworld’s charismatic publisher Patrick Janson-Smith who brought style and flair to the list and combined it all with good humour which made him a popular figure in international publishing. Black Swan became home to some big names in fiction and non-fiction, among them Joanna Trollope, Joanne Harris, Robert Goddard, Sophie Kinsella and John Irving.
The debate over how much imprints mean to consumers has been going on for years. Most observers believe the Penguin logo is the only one that means anything to the public at large. But for people working in the industry – booksellers, agents, editors – having different imprints is a helpful way of distinguishing lists and authors. Around the world everyone can think of imprints in their own national publishing industry that are no longer with us. With the loss of Black Swan, Corgi and Arrow in the UK another chapter of British publishing history draws to a close.