Shaping a Series

[Senior production editor Martha Kranes, whose birthday it is today, agreed to guest blog about her insights into the visual side of series development.]

One of the fun things about working for a publisher that produces nonfiction series is discovering the ways in which the design team, with input from editorial and marketing, expresses the personality of a series. For example, in the Images and Issues series, which Domenica mentioned in a previous blog, each of the five books spans two decades and discusses the media’s portrayals and perceptions of women. The same structural bones are shared across each book in the series. They all have the same trim size, the same main text and caption fonts, the same margins and column guides. But the designer—using contemporary details, such as fabric patterns, advertising, and media posters—made slight adjustments to each book to allow the personality of each era to shine through.

Some examples?

In Gibson Girls and Suffragists: Perceptions of Women from 1900 to 1918, font and graphic detailing were inspired by Art Nouveau, a popular art movement during the early 1900s. Gibson Girls 1

Flappers and the New American Woman: Perceptions of Women from 1918 through the 1920s employs Art-Deco-inspired fonts and graphics behind the captions and chapter headers. A fun argyle pattern highlights sidebars about “The Evils of Going Corsetless” and Coco Chanel.Flappers 90-91

Rosie and Mrs. America: Perceptions of Women in the 1930s and 1940s ties in the patriotism of the wartime era with blue and white (red was not Mrsan option in these two-color books). Photos and sidebars in the movie chapter feature film-roll edging.

Gidgets and Women Warriors: Perceptions of Women in the 1950s and 1960s (below) uses retro orange and off-kilter boxes to lend a little fun behind captions, while a mod linoleum pattern dresses up sidebar backgrounds. A somber black-and-white theme is used in the chapter on the civil rights movement.Gidgets 2

Ms. and the Material Girls: Perceptions of Women from the 1970s through the 1990s riffs off of the era’s clothing themes, such as pinstripes, polka dots, and a hard-to-miss turquoise. Material Girls

So even though all of these books are part of a series and do share some cohesive elements of style, slight tweaks in color and design give each book the flavor of its own era. And that’s how our design team brings the magical element that unites text, photos and illustrations to uniquely express a book’s subject matter.

One thought on “Shaping a Series

  1. Michael Kranes

    These look like beautiful designs. I love the samples images. I personally think it would look great to feature some large turquoise jewelry designs for the 60s / 70s images, but that's my own personal quirk.

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