This fun collection of Penguin paperback editions of contemporary fiction features bright covers designed by creative contemporary tattoo artists.
All 20** books in the series were published between 2010 and 2011 and feature French flaps. The series was started by Penguin US (rumour has it that the series was inspired by a tattoo sported by Penguin’s creative director Paul Buckley), and following its success, Penguin UK commissioned six additional titles the following year.
Typically for Penguin paperbacks, they are unfortunately glue bound and the paper is not acid-free. Otherwise, they are a similar size and design as the Penguin Deluxe Classics series and certainly add some fun and colour to your shelf, as well as providing an interesting selection of titles to read – sort of an “edgy college reading” booklist, if you will.
**An edition of Hell’s Angels by Hunter S Thompson is often erroneously included in the series because it also has a tattoo style cover. However, it is part of the Penguin Essentials line.
Differences between US and UK editions
The first difference you’re likely to notice is that the US editions mostly have deckled page edges while the UK editions have straight edges. Additionally, UK Penguin Ink editions are all by British authors, they feature a photo of the artist on the back flap, and they don’t have the ‘Penguin Ink’ logo on the cover. The US editions represent a broader variety of authors, the back flap often features an illustrative self-portrait of the artist, and most do have ‘Penguin Ink’ marked below the orange Penguin logo on the spine and cover.
On buying books (or tattoos!)
Many of the books in this series are already out of print, but they are fairly cheap on the second hand market – watch out for condition though, as many paperbacks get quite rough handling.
Clicking on the cover art will bring up a bigger picture for you to enjoy. have also linked to each artist’s parlour page or Instagram account – just in case you’re here because you’re keen to get inked!
If you like the Penguin Ink titles, do also check out the guide to the Penguin Deluxe Classics series.
Complete list of books in the Penguin Ink series
The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter
Cover art by Jen Munford
ISBN 9780143119043, Mar 2011
"An absorbing collection of dark, sensual, and fantastic stories inspired by the fairy tales and legends of Red Riding Hood, Bluebeard, Beauty and the Beast, vampires, werewolves, and more."
The Broom of the System by David Foster Wallace
Cover art by Duke Riley.
ISBN 9780143116936, Jun 2010
"Lenore’s great-grandmother has disappeared with twenty-five other inmates of the Shaker Heights Nursing Home. Her beau, and boss, Rick Vigorous, is insanely jealous, and her cockatiel, Vlad the Impaler, has suddenly started spouting a mixture of psycho-babble, Auden, and the King James Bible."
On the Black Hill by Bruce Chatwin
Cover art by Daniel Albrigo.
ISBN 9780143119067, Jan 2011
(*US edition but no deckled edges)
"An exploration of the Welsh landscape and of the lives and souls of the people who live there told through the lives of twin brothers Lewis and Benjamin Jones."
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding
Cover Art by Tara McPherson
ISBN 9780143117131, Jun 2010.
"A self-aware, laugh-out-loud account of a year in the life of a thirty-something Singleton."
The Bone People by Keri Hulme
Cover art by Pepa Heller.
ISBN 9780143116455, Jun 2010
"Explores the complicated relationships between three outcasts of mixed European and Maori heritage."
Moon Palace by Paul Auster
Cover art by Grez from Kings Avenue Tattoo.
ISBN 9780143119050, Dec 2010
"A tale of an orphan’s search for love, for his unknown father, and for the key to the elusive riddle of his fate."
The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank
Cover Art by Lina Stigsson.
ISBN 9780143119692, Jul 2011
"An insightful narrative maps the progress of fourteen-year- old Jane Rosenal as she navigates the perilous terrain of love, sex, and relationships, capturing what it's like to be a young woman in America today."
Justine by Lawrence Durrell
Cover art by Robert Ryan.
ISBN 9780143119241, May 2011
"On the eve of World War II, the obsessed characters in this novel find that their pursuits lead only to bedrooms in which each seeks to know - and possess - the other."
Libra by Don DeLillo
Cover art by Chris O'Donnell.
ISBN 9780143119258, Aug 2011
"A fictional speculation on the assassination of John F. Kennedy."
Money by Martin Amis
Cover art by Bert Krak.
ISBN 9780143116950, Jun 2010
"The story of John Self, one of London’s top commercial directors, who is given the opportunity to make his first feature film—alternately titled Good Money and Bad Money—and his spiral into degeneracy."
The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle
Cover art by Gonzalo M M.
ISBN 9780143119074, Mar 2011
"A freak accident causes two couples (a pair of Los Angeles liberals and Mexican illegals) and their opposing worlds to collide in a tragicomedy of error and misunderstanding."
From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming
Cover art by Chris Garver.
ISBN 9780143116943, Jun 2010
"A game of cross and double-cross ensues-with the British Secret Service's most infamous operative both the stakes and the prize-in this classic Bond novel of counterespionage."
Big Sur by Jack Kerouac
Cover art by Rob Admiraal, foreword by Aram Saroyan.
ISBN 9780143119234, Apr 2011
"Kerouac’s alter ego Jack Duluoz, overwhelmed by success and excess, gravitates back and forth between wild binges in San Francisco and an isolated cabin on the California coast where he attempts to renew his spirit and clear his head of madness and alcohol."
Waiting for the Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee
Cover art by Christopher Conn Askew from Sekret City.
ISBN 9780143116929, Jun 2010
"The Magistrate is unexpectedly jolted into sympathy with the 'barbarians' in his tiny frontier settlements in this allegory of the war between oppressor and oppressed."
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Cover art by Lynn Akura.
ISBN 9780241954577, Aug 2011
"A novel dealing with friendship, love, war, three cultures and three families over three generations, one brown mouse, and the tricky way the past has of coming back and biting you on the ankle."
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby
Cover art by Russ Abbott.
ISBN 9780241954584, Aug 2011
"A novel about love, heartbreak, and rock and roll, by turns wise and hilarious."
Notes on a Scandal by Zoë Heller
Cover art by Valerie Vargas.
ISBN 9780241954553, Aug 2011
"History teacher Barbara Covett is loyal to her new friend Sheba when she is discovered having an illicit affair with one of her young pupils."
The Book of Dave by Will Self
Cover art by Duncan X .
ISBN 9780241954607, Aug 2011
"Shuttling between the recent past and a far-off future where England is terribly altered, The Book of Dave is a strange and troubling mirror held up to our times."
The Accidental by Ali Smith
Cover art by Judd Ripley.
ISBN 9780241954560, Aug 2011
"A beguiling stranger called Amber appears at the door of the Norfolk holiday home of the Smart family one hot summer."
The Rotters' Club by Jonathan Coe
Cover art by Han van der Sluys from King of Kings.
ISBN 9780241954591, Aug 2011
"The tale of Benjamin Trotter and his friends' coming of age during the 1970s."
**Hell's Angels by Hunter S Thompson
Cover art by Dominique Holmes
ISBN 9780241951583, May 2011
(**Not a true Penguin Inked title, but often marketed with the others in the UK due to the similar style of tattoo cover design)
"In this hair-raising expose, Thompson journeys with the last outlaws of the American frontier."