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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, January 02, 2019 1:00 am

A second chance at a first impression

Nicole Y. Chung | Washington Post

A paperback release is a second chance of sorts. Publishers have an opportunity to reinvigorate the vibe of a book, and show off any fancy awards that might have been bestowed.

A lot goes on behind the scenes. We asked designers and creative directors to tell us how three hardback-to-paperback redesigns came together.


“Improvement,”by Joan Silber

Hoping to modernize the Turkish illustration that graced the hardcover, Nicole Caputo, creative director of Counterpoint, and her in-house team decided a human element paired with photography would draw in more readers. Caputo reached out to freelance designer Allison Saltzman to freshen up one of Counterpoint's most celebrated books. Saltzman staged a quick photo shoot in her living room then submitted nine designs.

While the team originally settled on a cover with a woman in a blue dress beside a red suitcase, Caputo switched it out days before going to the presses. “We felt the hand design would reach the widest audience,” she said, “and that the image was more relatable and more striking.”


“Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine,” by Joe Hagan

Graphic designer Linda Huang admits social media has changed her job, allowing her to see the work of fellow designers and get a peek at book jackets before they hit shelves. Huang has noticed that a simpler look can telegraph a lot.

For her redesign of the biography “Sticky Fingers,” she wanted to use streamlined imagery – she ultimately chose a photo of Rolling Stone's co-founder and publisher Jann Wenner – while incorporating the feel of the 1960s and '70s music scene that the magazine became famous for covering. Huang achieved the rock vibe by using the gradient, color-blocked background typically found on concert posters from that era.


“The Unfinished Palazzo,” by Judith Mackrell

Rosie Keane swapped out a more literal black-and-white cover and amped up the paperback version with shimmery gold ink and embossed lettering to evoke the glitz and glamour of three socialites' time in Venice. The noirish geometric cover looks nothing like an art history book, which is the point: It aims to appeal to fiction readers and others looking for an escape.