Penguin Random House

Pelican Books: An iconic imprint returns

Safely delivering this classic brand into the 21st century with an innovative online reading experience that does justice to the highest quality in accessible non-fiction publishing. We paid close attention to the reading experience to ensure the easiest read on all devices, with minimal distractions.

Having previously worked with Penguin Books to redesign the The Snowman & The Snowdog website, we were approached in December 2013 with the exciting opportunity to help design and build a new website for the legendary Penguin imprint, Pelican Books.

The brief was to create a website that was both accessible and distinctive — the two pillars of the Pelican Books brand, and that included an in-browser reader so users could purchase and read any number of Pelican publications across different desktop, tablet and mobile devices.

We built the site to be as simple and easy to use as possible. We worked closely with the team at Penguin Books on the visual look and feel of the site ensuring that any unnecessary visual clutter was stripped out and key functions were kept as straightforward as possible. Much of the emphasis for the project was placed on creating a unique reader experience, so particular attention was paid to the type hierarchy and styling, whilst additional functions, such as text highlighting, text-size customisation and sharing, were built in to improve the overall user experience.

The aim of the project was to bridge the gap between conventional eReader devices and modern web browsers. It had to be flexible and beautiful – even in the code. Our technical decisions were made with the understanding that we needed a versatile foundation that could keep up to date with the latest in web capabilities and also integrate seamlessly with .ePub software, which is currently stuck in a grey area between web technologies and device-restricted code for Kindles and other eReader devices. It needed to feel like there was nothing between you and the text – even to the most tech-savvy readers, who would be distracted by even the smallest discrepancy between browsers or devices, or slow loading speed.

We worked closely with Fiasco Design to develop the new Pelican Books website, which includes a custom-built in-browser ebook reading experience. We benefited from their user experience and design expertise, and they provided invaluable input into shaping the direction of the site. We always found Ben extremely responsive and helpful and a pleasure to work with, and highly committed to the success of the project, which made a massive difference. We look forward to working with Fiasco again in future. – Michael Jones, Senior Web Product Manager at Penguin Digital

You may, like us, be too young to have read those iconic little blue books in their heyday, but now you can delve into the wonders of human evolution, economics or revolutionary Russia via the newly launched Pelican Books website.

Since launch the site has been featured on a number of news/blog sites including The Independent, The GuardianCreative Review, Tech CrunchIt’s Nice That and Design Week.

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  • Built mobile-first, scanning through books and menus is a breeze.

  • Pelican books mobile layouts
  • Pelican Books Mobile Layout

    The text size of the books is set by the user at either small, medium or large.

  • Pelican Books Desktop Design

    The home page introduces the product and it's key features.

  • Users are able to read the first chapter of each book for free before being asked to purchase the book. Once purchased, the book is then added to the users library to read whenever or wherever they want.

  • Pelican Books highlight text

    Users can highlight and share extracts from the books with their friends.

  • Pelican Books Desktop

    Menu windows open up above the page so users never feel to far from their current reading position.

  • Pelican Books Text Size

    Users can customise the text size of the books for a more tailored reading experience.