Inside UCP

Ten Things I’ve Learned Designing for a University Press

January 19, 2021

We’re often introduced to a book through its cover. Catching our eye on a bookstore display, in a social media post, or shared by a favorite reviewer, covers give us a glimpse into what each book holds. But how does a cover come into existence? What goes into the process and how do designers dream them up? We checked in with Natalie Sowa, one of our very own in-house designers, to hear about working in book design. In turn, she offers the ten things she’s learned while designing covers for a university press. 1. A book cover is an overture. A cover cannot possibly contain everything in the book; its function is entirely different. An overture is a broad musical interpretation of a larger work of music; it picks themes and snippets from the work and puts them on display to whet the aural appetite. This is the function of a good book cover. The book is the entire musical composition, complete and exhaustive. The cover hints at what is inside and entices readers to open it. The best covers often focus on a single idea and visualize it in a way that’s difficult for potential readers to ignore. 2. . . .

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