Philip Roth book jackets (1969–1975)
All of Philip Roth’s books published between 1969 and 1975 carry the same typographic signature. It consists of a bold condensed Caslon variant with swashes, set center-aligned, with the title and the author’s name separated by color.
The first one in this series of hardcovers is the novel Portnoy’s Complaint, published by Random House in 1969. The jacket design is credited to Paul Bacon. Interestingly, this visual identity was maintained for subsequent books by other publishers, too, including UK editions by Jonathan Cape — it’s not the identity of the publisher, but really one of the author. Reading Myself and Others, an anthology of essays published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 1975, was the last in this specific design, but Roth continued to be associated with bold swashy Caslons.
The exact typeface has not been identified yet. A possible candidate is Caslon Contempo by Photo-Lettering, Inc. The sample in the One Line catalog from 1971 doesn’t show any swashes, but these might be custom additions. Some of the details appear to be customized anyway, see e.g. the two different forms for G in “Gang” and “Great”.
Not included in this compilation is My Life as a Man, published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston (US) and Jonathan Cape (UK) in 1974 — it was featured in an earlier post by Stephen.
1 Comment on “Philip Roth book jackets (1969–1975)”
See also the follow-up on the paperback covers by Bantam Books, featuring Benguiat Caslon.