I can’t be the only one attached to my favorite book’s original cover—so why does it seem to change so often?
When most readers think of book design, they focus on the exterior aspects: the front and back covers, the jacket, the spine. Interior design is often overlooked and underestimated, and yet the work that goes into designing the words on the page is just as intensive and can be just as creative as the work that goes into designing covers. And just like cover design, different genres have different challenges and style trends for interior layout. The cardinal rule of interior layout is that the design must be invisible: the choices shouldn’t be so obvious that they distract the reader from the content of the book.
This book is special to us because it’s more than just another book. It introduces Northwesterners to beautiful yet relatively unexplored areas in our backyard. It’s about showing people that these forests, which have been famously devastated by fire and logging, are now viable playgrounds for horseback riders, cyclists, hikers, and campers.
We’ve all heard the saying “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but let’s be honest—everybody does. While the cover design on a book doesn’t necessarily make-or-break the sales of every individual book, it is the first thing a reader notices. Before reading the back-cover blurb or looking up reviews online, the reader’s first instinct comes from their impressions of the cover design.
The saying is “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the truth is, we all do—and we’re actually supposed to. Someone designed that cover with specific intentions for you, the reader, to pull the book off the shelf and take a closer look. If I think about it too hard, I realize how shallow and materialistic I am as a reader and how hard a cover has to work just to get me to pick it up. My recent interest in cover design has to do with a challenge I’m undertaking this year to read at least thirty books with a main character who would be classified as a minority in America. Finding books that show this diversity on the cover is actually a lot more difficult than I expected.
Last term, boxes were meticulously packed and labeled for either our temporary office or deep storage. Some supplies even lived in managers’ cars during the winter break. There was one item, however, that needed special attention: our 1885 Chandler & Price letterpress.