There is an ongoing conversation about conscious editing and how important it is to making great inclusive stories. I would be the first to tell you how crucial it is for books to be edited consciously, as it increases the accuracy and the quality of a book and helps it appeal to a wider audience—something that is very important in publishing. But that is not the only area in book production that has so much to gain from conscious practices, diversity, and different perspectives—design can also benefit from these things.
Whereas fine art (such as illustration) looks inward by asking the viewer to see the artist behind the art, graphic design looks outward by asking the viewer to see the art and go do something because of it. While these two concepts overlap in places, the purpose of each is very different.
Ooligan Press is mostly made up of students in either their first or second year of the master’s in book publishing program at PSU. This means that every student is working on a book project team or as a department manager in addition to taking another two or three classes. And who can find the time to create cover and interior designs as we juggle up to six books in development at once? The key is collaboration. By trusting each other as managers, creators, and book lovers with valuable feedback to give, we work toward a fully designed book that best reflects the essence of the final manuscript.
As the cover of a book communicates to the potential reader what lies within, many conventions have emerged to highlight certain genres, such as an old photograph that promises a memoir, or a shirtless muscular man that promises a romance novel. To investigate further, we’ll look at four popular books sold in both the US and the UK and see what each cover has to say about the same story.
I refuse to believe we can’t move past the paperback designs of the past with their jumble of chunky fonts, strange color palettes, and, dare I say, unappealing illustrations of aliens.
No matter how brilliant a piece of writing is, if it doesn’t know who the audience should be or doesn’t give enough context about its subject, the writing fails to be read, understood, and shared. It fails to communicate. The same holds true for book design.