Book Covers I Like: New Releases, July 2014

As ever, collected from Goodreads, Twitter, Amazon and/or publisher websites.


Design I like: Coldplay ‘Ghost Stories’

I saw an advert for Coldplay’s new album in a tube station in London, I liked it enough to go on the hunt for more. All of these images were found on Google. I think they’re incredible.

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – an MA Publishing Design Project.

As I spent last Tuesday wandering around looking ridiculous in a boiling hot, very heavy graduation gown. I figured it was high time I posted about my major project, which I have been meaning to post about for 9 months now.

See above, here I am in said ridiculous graduation get up with my best friend, without whom, along with our Alice, Mad Hatter, Queen of Hearts and etc. pictured in the images to follow, my major project would not have been possible.

We had long wanted to do an Alice related photography project and my MA seemed like the perfect opportunity. Beth, pictured above, assembled all of the costumes (having made some of the pieces herself!) and did the makeup and hair styling for each character, Rebekah acted as our chameleon and played the entire cast of characters barring the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon, I shot the images, manipulated them and typeset the text until we had a finished book. I call these two my dream team and for good reason.

Three days were spent shooting all of the images, I took at least 800 , if not more, during those three days. It was quite possibly the most entertaining experience of my life. Once all of the images were shot, 3 months were spent creating the rest of the book. Each image had to be carefully chosen and manipulated, only a small number actually made it into the finished book. Images were shot in natural light on a Canon 550D using a 50mm f/1.8 lens, mostly in a garden in front of a white sheet. They were edited in Photoshop CS6 and the book was designed in InDesign CS6.

Surprisingly, it all fell together without much trouble, though a few of the images can no longer be edited (I am still baffled as to why).

The book wasn’t the only thing I submitted, I also included a website splash page, some designs for playing cards, an AI, alternate cover and what OICPS classes as a BLAD, in addition to two videos which can be found at the end of the post.

There are a few things I wish I’d done differently but, overall, I was incredibly happy with this project and have a printed version sitting proudly on a shelf in my bedroom. It was the biggest project I’d ever undertaken and I came out the other side with all of my faculties still intact and more Adobe knowledge than I had before I started.

Below, you can see the whole thing in all its digital glory (though, seeing it in print is far more satisfying and I’m not sure why the issuu viewer is appearing quite so tiny – click on it for full-screen).

The End of Timetabled Education

Almost two weeks ago, the taught part of my Master’s at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies ended. It culminated in a day of presentations, as if by each division of a publishing house to the board of directors.

New Product Development, a module renowned as much for the stress it causes as the rewards that follow. I feel particularly lucky in that I didn’t find the experience hugely stressful or unpleasant in any way. I would both be lying and inhuman if I said that there was no stress whatsoever in the process, part of the module is, in itself, learning how best to cope with workplace stresses (though the stresses of working life will be vastly different than MA stress). Each of us had other assignments to do for other modules and it at times felt a little overwhelming.

As (I think) I have written in a previous entry, I was placed in the Humanities and Social Sciences division of the fictitious ‘Buckley Publishing’ with seven others. I leapt at the chance to be Head of Design and my group graciously let me. We developed a proposal for Buckley Gold Open Access, an innovative open access platform (and four journals to be launched alongside it) for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Future plans included the expansion of the platform to cover other divisions such as STM and AAD.

I very much enjoyed creating the designs, building our brand even through the slides we used in our presentation. It was a exercise in team work and creativity and something I greatly enjoy. What I didn’t enjoy so much was the presentation; I am not a fantastic public speaker, the thought of speaking in front of people is not one that excites me. (As you probably already know.)

It went better than I thought it would. I may have rewritten my little portion of the presentation unintentionally as I was saying it but everything went well. Alongside the speaking, I was in charge of the smooth running of the slides, the changeovers were in my jittery little fingers. There was one hiccup caused by the jitteriness of the aforementioned fingers, otherwise all was well.

We were second, something I was incredibly grateful for as the day progressed. Having to wait any longer would have increased the nerves and decreased the likelihood of our presentation going as well as it went; we came in third place. (Below are only some of our slides.)

It was a good end to the taught portion of the course, a greater end than lessons simply stopping. It felt like a kind of closure.

Now begins the job search and the completion of our Major Projects or Dissertations and in true Emma fashion (the Elou in me shakes her head at this) I have created a schedule. Of course, I won’t stick to this schedule to the letter but it is nice to have one. Having been in formal education since I was four, with no breaks longer than the summer holidays, the idea of life before I secure myself a job is somewhat terrifying. Hence the schedule.

Everything is covered, from exercise to searching and applying for jobs, to my Major Project, to finishing my novel; it is packed and that is how I like it. As endings go this is a particularly good one and in no way do I regret my decision to do this Master’s. It has been a great experience, one that is not yet done.

But now I move on to the great job search and I feel like I’m finally ready.

Major Projects and an Apology for Slacking

So, it’s been a while and I am not blogging about what I said I was going to blog about and I am not currently reviewing what I said I was going to review in the future. I am a terrible person and I shouldn’t attempt to plan blogs in advance. In truth, there has been a lot of work going on and a lot of stress and I simply haven’t had the time.  I will get to everything, possibly in January. Until then, hello, it is nice to see you again.

As suggested in the title, this is not just about my failure as a blogger. No, it is a whirlwind of thought processes about the monster that is and will be my Major Project. Today, we were shown some previous Major Projects to make us aware of what constitutes as enough. Each of them were highly illustrated and, from what they said, took a lot of work in terms of image and text creation. I began to worry. My idea up until this point was to simply redesign an old text with the possibility of some illustrations. Now I am wondering if that is enough.

During my wondering (and also wandering), I came to the conclusion that using my strengths would definitely be worthwhile here and by strengths I mean my photography. After a quick search on Amazon, I discovered that the text I am redesigning/reworking has been released semi-recently as low cost paperbacks and kindle editions. Again there was worry but then I realised how, to put it bluntly, ugly they were. From what I have seen there is not a single beautiful version of this book, and during a wider search, I found that books on the same subject (here I am being cryptic again until I am definitely sure of myself and my project – sorry about that) were also a little frail on the design side of things.

There is only one, produced by the Folio Society, in which the design seems worthy of the beauty that is the content. One in all that I have seen so far. Could it be that I have found an angle for my analytic report? Could it be that simple? We shall see in the next episode of Elou and the Major Project. Coming to a blog near you.