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Thursday, February 1, 2018

How Does The Book Publishing Industry Use Logos To Sell Itself?

How does the book publishing industry represent itself by logos, especially book publishers, libraries and bookstores?

The world of logos is very interesting.  Some could be left to interpretation but most intentionally represent something specific.  Some will even be confusing or incomprehensible to others.  Some logos are images that catch on because of the level of significance of the organization the logo represents.  The five rings of the Olympics, the bitten apple for Apple, and the golden arches to McDonald’s became iconic not because the images are so stunning but because the Olympics, Apple and McDonald’s became huge enterprises that impact society in a popular and lasting way.

Logos tend to follow certain paths.  Some will:

·         Contain an image, such as the bull’s eye for Target.
·         Simply state a company’s name:  Disney, Facebook, Dell.
·         Use a few letters, such as HBO, 3M, FIFA.
·         Combine a name and an image, like Pepsi, AT&T, Adidas

Many will rely on strong colors, fonts, typefaces, and catchy images, including ones of things from the past, things that aren’t real, animals, buildings, or merely some unidentified design element.

Let’s take a look at how the book industry utilizes logos:


Logos for book publishers seek to capture something powerful, special, and timeless about the appeal of books, especially of the specific genres or level of content sold by a specific publishing house, university press, or independent press.  Let’s take a look:

Oxford’s logo is of an adult reading a book with stars around the person’s head and the caption beneath saying “Oneworld” as one word. Not many publisher logos have a motto.

Many publishers use animals.  Penguin, now part of Penguin Random House, has a black and while penguin to represent itself.  Al Rahelah Publishing uses a camel.  Particular Books uses a bunny rabbit.  Jelly Fish Publishing has a jellyfish and Walker Books uses a bear.  Black Ox Press has an ox.

Some logos just spell out the name of the publisher, such as the case with Yale University Press.

Harper Collins uniquely uses its name and an image of fire and water.  Chronicle Books uses its name and the image of glasses.  Josephine Publishing accompanies its same with the old-fashioned writing instrument, an ink-dipped feather pen.  Archway Publishing depicts an archway, as if seeing into the distance with a depth of dimensions.  South End Press shows a head with a light bulb in it.

Some logos of publishers reveal mythical images.  Mercia Books showcases a dragon.  Pink Unicorn Publishing uses a pink unicorn.

A fair number of publishers depict book imagery in their logos.  Open Book Publishers predictably shows an open book next to its name.  Chelsea House Publishers also shows a book, as does Victory Publishing, which turns the open book into a v-shape to emphasize the first letter of its name.  Algonquin Books, place a capital A on top of a book.

Others show random images not associated with publishing.  Hot Gates Press depicts a Roman warrior. Orphan Press shows the child-like face of presumably an orphan.  Seal Press shows two seals.

A certain number of publishers don’t use an image for their logo but they will use a distinctive typeface and font to present their name, such as Rizzoli Publishers or Steidl.

Many publishers incorporate water imagery into their logos such as a sailboat for Bateau Press. Atlantic Books and Orca Book Publishers play up to the water connection as well.

Most book publishing logos are fairly simple and tend to include the publisher’s name.  Often the image perfectly supports the name, such as seals for Seal Press but often the name of the publisher doesn’t clearly indicate what makes the publisher unique and the logo doesn’t explain or indicate what type of books are produced by a publisher.


When you take a look at logos for libraries, a good number incorporate the visual of books.  Some try to give a feeling of movement to a book’s pages.  Others utilize many colors to indicate excitement for books.  Some will show trees or nature, indicating the tree of knowledge and the growth of the mind.

A good number of logos include a library’s name and the generic image of a library.  Jacksonville Public Library does this.  So do Charlotte Library, Medfield Public Library, and White Plains Public Library.

Some logos represent the areas and locations of the libraries.  Portsmouth Public Library forgoes imagery of books or young readers for a sailing boat.  Storm Lake Public Library shows a lighthouse. 

Some library logos are understated for their size. Brooklyn Public Library just states its name in black and white.


These logos tend to be of a certain variety.  Typical of many is the one for Vroman’s Bookstore which shows its name, a drawing of a book and a statement saying “Since 1894” to indicate strong roots in the community.

Another kind is the one for New York City’s Strand, which states its name, location, Est. 1927, and includes a tag line:  “Where Books are Loved.”  

The biggest book dealers, Amazon, just uses its standard logo of name and arrow, not indicating books specifically in its logo. 

Barnes & Noble, the largest physical book retailer, just prints its name in white on a green background.  No book images are utilized and the word books is not even used.


The logos used by those involved in the book world will come and go but they all have one thing in common.  They seek to express enthusiasm for some aspects of the book – stores to sell it, libraries to loan it, writers to market it, literary organizations to read it, educators to teach with it, and book publishers to promote it.

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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2018. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent.  This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. 

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