I was ten the first time I was in London, England. My mother and I had come down on the train from Dundee, where we lived. One afternoon, she took me to Foyle’s Bookstore, which was huge even by the standards of those days. It occupied a large city block and much of the store was set up the way you’d expect even today — fiction section, children’s section, best sellers on a table at the front. But, there were “rooms,” quadrants at the back of the store devoted to a single publisher.
Thinking back, I suspect those publishers paid for those spaces, but they drew my attention, partly because, in those days, their respective covers were all the same. One room was Faber & Faber with pale blue and white covers, black trim and lettering. The other was Penguin, solid orange with it’s cover space in white trimmed with black and the author’s name and book title in black. A few books were front-facing, but most were spine out. At the bottom of each spine was the little penguin logo.
When I walked into the room, I was surrounded by orange punctuated by rows of little penguins just above the shelf. I loved it. I stood and stared, while my mother browsed the shelves.
“Some day, I’m going to have an orange spine,” I said.
“That’s nice, dear.”
She didn’t know how much I meant it.