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Huntsville front cover

Huntsville back cover

Book dimensions are 7.75" wide by 9.875" high. The initial intent was for an 8 by 10 book, but we found that by decreasing the size ever so slightly, it could be printed as eight 32-page “signatures” (total 256 pp.) rather than eleven 24-page signatures (total 264 pp.), resulting in lower preparation and press setup charges at the printer.

The overall format of the book — its proportions and size — was determined by the content. For a discussion of interior design featuring this book, click here.

Cover Design: A Case Study

For the front cover of Huntsville: With Spirit and Resolve, the Huntsville History Book Committee requested that we include a rare, previously unpublished 1880s watercolour of the Huntsville waterfront, painted by a sister of the village’s first reeve.

The delicate colours and soft atmosphere would have been overwhelmed by a complex design, so we kept it simple: the picture, the only graphic other than the type, occupies the entire upper section of the cover. The solid colour below, a light gold-yellow, we took from the boat decks and buildings in the watercolour. This relates it to the picture but also provides maximum colour contrast with the more dominant purple shades (yellow and purple are complementary colours). Important too, from a commercial standpoint, the yellow prominence in the colour scheme distinguishes the book visually from two competing Huntsville books, one blue and sepia, the other dark purple.

For the typography, in keeping with the simplicity of the design, we used an elegant but unadorned text typeface (Centaur). When positioning type, we first examine the internal geometry of the adjacent picture. In this case, there is a strong vertical created by one of the bridge piers and its reflection in the water, which leads the eye down. We aligned the left edge of the text lines with that vertical, rather than just centring the title on the page. The result is a subtle visual connection and harmony between the two graphic elements.

Maintaining design continuity, the back cover employs the reverse of the front, with a picture of the same proportions across the bottom. The block of text above it mirrors the indent of the text on the front cover. Rather than spoil the picture (an old coloured postcard) with the barcode in its usual bottom location, we moved that into the corner of the text block. The barcode is a necessary evil on book covers. Some bookstores won’t carry a book that does not have one.

Main book production page

Huntsville: With Spirit and Resolve catalogue description

Design of book interior


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