The James Bond books by Ian Fleming have been in print since they were written in the 1950s-60s. In preparation for the new Bond movie Skyfall, new releases of the classic titles are emerging on both sides of the Atlantic.
In the UK, Vintage Books have released a Classics series while Amazon in the States is poised to release its own series on October 16th, under its Thomas & Mercer imprint. Both have opted for graphic design-heavy designs; Amazon's is monochrome with a red 007 dot, while Vintage is handdrawn typography with subtle additional elements.
But which is best? I take a look at each cover side by side, and rank them accordingly.
THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE WINNER!
They're both striking, but the Amazon cover looks a little too much like a dartboard, rather than a gambling chip. The drop of blood falling from Vintage's heart wins me over. <strong>Vintage 1:0 Amazon</strong>
You Only Live Twice
Both have gone for a watery motif, but Vintage's pendula seem more like gymnastic rings than anything else. Amazon's subtle ripples work better for me. <strong>Vintage 1:1 Amazon</strong>
Nice colors on the Vintage cover, but that bomb looks far too much like a suit tie. Amazon's menacing, shadowy tower takes this round. <strong>Vintage 1:2 Amazon</strong>
The Spy Who Loved Me
Cool flames from Amazon, but they look a little too much like a corporate symbol. The typography combined with the bullethole 'o's make this one of the best in Vintage's series. <strong>Vintage 2:2 Amazon</strong>
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
I'm not entirely sure what Amazon's cover is supposed to represent. A flag? A net? An optical illusion? Vintage goes classic, and despite the unnecessary triangles, it remains as cheesily appropriate as <em>The Spy Who Loved Me</em>'s<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gvv2lv2s_gM" target="_hplink"> Union Jack parachute</a>. God Save Our Gracious Queen... <strong>Vintage 3:2 Amazon</strong>
Octopussy and The Living Daylights
This double bill gives designers two choices: focus on one or showcase both? Vintage chose the latter route, Amazon the former, and the Seattle giant's choice is vindicated with some truly magnificent tentacles, reaching out to grab the red circle that appears on all of their covers. Vintage's cover has a little too much going on, and the word Daylights doesn't really lend itself to being used as a rifle. Halfway through, the scores are level. <strong>Vintage 3:3 Amazon</strong>
Amazon has chosen a target with orbits around the bullseye. Vintage goes for a more classic, almost <a href="http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/4/42/Tintin_cover_-_Destination_Moon.jpg" target="_hplink">Tintin-esque</a> creation. The subtle white O in the title proves the clincher. <strong>Vintage 4:3 Amazon</strong>
Live and Let Die
Voodoo and Jamaica feature heavily in this book, and there's a nod to the movie version in the shadowy top hat in Vintage's cover. I'm not really sure what Amazon's represents. Waves? Parentheses? Upside-down seagulls? Vintage's handdrawn typography against the green background looks fantastic. Another win for the Brits. <strong>Vintage 5:3 Amazon</strong>
From Russia With Love
A bullet or a pencil, Vintage? Either way, despite some slightly off typography, Amazon's beautiful penmanship wins the day. <strong>Vintage 5:4 Amazon</strong>
Leaning yellow text like some kind of speeding <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penny-farthing" target="_hplink">Penny Farthing</a> bicycle? No. Amazon's bold typography takes it. <strong>Vintage 5:5 Amazon</strong>
Piano keys? Bars in a prison cell? Not sure what Amazon was going for here, but it doesn't really matter, as Vintage's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/14/saul-bass-movie-poster-design_n_1010658.html" target="_hplink">Saul Bass-tinged </a>creation is a classic piece of design. <strong>Vintage 6:5 Amazon</strong>
The Man With The Golden Gun
Another Saul Bass tribute from Vintage. Amazon, however, seems to be channeling a railway line and a picket fence. <strong>Vintage 7:5 Amazon</strong>
Diamonds Are Forever
They're both pretty good. Vintage has squeezed a diamond into the typography and put a target to its heart. Amazon has a repetitive pattern that is distinctive and clear. In the end, I think the decider is the Raymond Chandler quote. A classic author he may be, but a three-line quote that forces the eye to stop and read for too long. 40 words? That's a not a cover quote, that's a blurb. Half a point to Vintage confirms them the winner, but both series have their moments. <strong>Vintage 7.5:5 Amazon</strong>
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