When the Beatles sang these words from ‘Paperback Writer’ (and John Lennon was, indeed, published by Penguin), this aspiration caught the mood of a period in the 1960s when the paperback was both a key vehicle for cultural transmission and an aesthetic object in itself. In hindsight, the paperback may then have been at the height of both its influence and its popularity. ‘When Paperbacks in Print was first published in May 1960, as a “reference catalogue” of paperbacks on sale in Britain, it listed as many as 5,866 titles; and by June 1962 this total had risen to 9,578 – an increase of 65 per cent’ (Findlater 1966, 12). This recapitulated an earlier period of expansion in the USA where 3 million paperbacks had been produced in 1939 but 214 million in 1950 (Pryce-Jones 1952, 18). The UK and the USA had both seen the scope and range of paperback publishing extend: in the former case, beyond reprints to original work in both fiction and non-fiction and, in the latter, beyond genre fiction to literary fiction and non-fiction. This convergence between the two largest English-language publishing countries was apparent also in paperback design. The UK production of paperbacks began in a European tradition of typographical covers, showing restraint and austerity in their functionality, while the US production of paperbacks, faced with competition from magazines for the same retail space in drugstores and markets, adopted the vivid colours and illustrations on the covers of these rivals to create a more flamboyant and exuberant tradition. This essay follows in detail the development of the European tradition through Tauchnitz and Albatross to Penguin. In the UK in the 1960s the Europeans assimilated the US tradition, rather slavishly in its initial use by Pan and other paperback houses, and rather tentatively by Penguin in the early years of the decade. From that imitation and hesitation emerged a creative and innovative flowering of UK paperback cover design, particularly in Penguin books from 1965 through to the end of the decade.