Thursday, April 1, 2010

In Which I Try to Mentor and Do As Little Harm As Possible

Last week I met with a student from my alma mater who wants to get into publishing. For seven years I’ve been giving a talk through the Career Center on publishing as a career, and while of course I love to talk to the English majors, finally she is my first Art major. I’ve always thought the art majors should also be interested because it’s one of the few real jobs they can get that isn’t in advertising. So over the last few weeks, and also since our afternoon together, I’ve been sending her links to check out about how jackets are made, cool design blogs, controversies regarding jacket designs, etc., and here’s what I managed to collect fairly haphazardly:

The blog She Reads and Reads frequently features posts about identical or very similar cover images. When I was an editor, I acquired 25 books, and 2 of them had this problem, with the exact same image used on another book also. With one book we were able to find out in time and change the color of the girls’ shirt and the font. The other book came out a few months after mine and I had no idea until I saw it in a B&N, so nothing could be done then, though I think our treatment of the image was much better.

The Shelf Talker blog on PW’s website has long been a favorite of mine, and not just because I know all the posters. Unfortunately they don’t have an RSS feed of any kind so I have to remember to go there to read it but luckily PW Daily is always a reminder. In this post they talk about how important, and yet neglected, spines are. From my days working at B&N I remember one of my biggest frustrations was books where the spine is a different color from the cover (which is discussed in the post). You remember that a book is blue, and you’re running your eyes down shelf after shelf and not seeing it and finally when you find it (after looking twice as long as necessary) you find it… and the spine is pink. Argh! (Penguin paperbacks obviously are an exception.) There was also a follow-up post here with more images (I borrowed this image from Elizabeth.)

This is a very cool video, from a jacket designer. She had a program that grabbed a screen image every few minutes, and she worked pretty much on one book from beginning to end all day. It’s a very neat time-lapse video of how a design comes together. I really liked the trivia about the Eiffel Tower.

This blog has the best explanation and cover round-up of the Whitewashing Issue that I’ve seen so far. It’s amazing to look at these covers going back and back and back and realize, publishing has known about this issue for decades. And yet we. Keep. Doing. It. Grrr.

Henry Sene Yee has my favorite designer blog. I think Henry’s designs are pretty inspired and 9 times out of 10 when I see a cool MacMillan cover, I’ll check the attribution and it’ll be his. He also shows earlier incarnations of jackets and alternate ideas. This is a book on my TBR list with a jacket he designed.

Finally, for fun, this blog runs occasional contests giving a bunch of books and asking people to redesign brand-new jackets for them.

I had looked at a fun blog post last month comparing American and British cover treatments but it seems to have disappeared.
So, what have I left off? Where else should I direct my aspiring designer? What else should she know? Any advice I should pass along to her?


thevanishinglake said...

I have no advice! (It sounds to me like you already gave her plenty to get started with.) But thanks for some of these really interesting links. I particularly enjoyed having a look at the remade book covers contests.

This is the first time I've come across your blog, but I'll definitely be back.

avisannschild said...

Thank you so much for mentioning my blog! Now I'm really curious to know which books you worked on that had the same cover!