12 September 2013

A Harvest of Books

The fall books have started to tumble off the press and into shipping boxes, not uncharacteristically ahead of the catalogue (details …).

We’re really excited to launch “Diaries of the Acadian Deportations,” a new series of history books aimed at attentive readers of Canadian history. The first instalment in the series is Jeremiah Bancroft at Fort Beauséjour and Grand-Pré, edited and annotated by Jonathan Fowler & Earle Lockerby. Jeremiah Bancroft enlisted to fight against the French Empire in North America in 1755. His journal preserves an eyewitness account of the deportation of the Acadians in the Grand-Pré area, offering readers a day-by-day account of one of the most dramatic events in Canadian history.

Our intention is to maintain a uniform approach to design throughout the series. I decided that the jackets should use colour and typography only.

Sometimes publishers underestimate readers and dumb down a text in an attempt to appeal to a wider audience. The first thing to go is usually the footnotes, because to most people they scream ‘Hey, this book is for experts!’ At best, they bury them in the back where only people who read with two bookmarks ever follow along. In this series, we wanted to stress that the editor’s annotations and explanations of Bancroft’s diary were central to the book, so I designed the book with Bancroft’s text on the recto pages and the notes on the facing verso pages. The main text of the book is set in two different Caslon types (Adobe’s Caslon for the text and Matthew Carter’s Big Caslon for display), with the notes set in Scala Sans for compactness and contrast. If you are interested in colonial military history, in first-person historical narratives or in the history of the Acadians, I highly recommend that you check out the first volume in this series and stay tuned for the forthcoming volumes.

Here are some pictures of Susan Haley’s new novel Petitot which I described in an earlier post. The inner cover is a detail from a sketch that was made by Émile Petitot, the historical person on whose life the book is roughly based. We inverted the image and then printed it in silver ink on black cover stock.

This is the jacket, unfolded. It was printed offset in three colours and uses an enlarged version of Petitot’s signature for the title text.

This is the title page from one of Petitot’s books about his time up north, Quinze Ans sous le Cercle Polaire, published in Paris in 1889. Turns out, most of it is as much fiction as Haley’s book about him.

As you can see, we borrowed some elements from the 1880s Paris edition for Haley’s title page, without trying to simply mimic it. Haley’s book is set Fournier, based on the rationalist French types of Pierre-Simon Fournier (1712–68), originally revived by the Monotype Corporation in 1925 for use on their casters.

Also due to start shipping to stores this week is Sean Johnston’s fabulous new novel Listen All You Bullets, his second novel with Gaspereau Press. The novel focuses on a young boy named Billy who is trapped on a hardscrabble North Dakota ranch with his lonely mother and his wheelchair-bound father. But Billy isn’t just any boy stuck on any ranch: Billy and his family are the creations of Jack Schaefer’s popular 1949 Western novel, Shane. Long after that novel’s action has concluded and its plot and characters have seemingly solidified into popular myth, Sean Johnston sets out to explore the possibilities of a story’s resistance to its own arrested afterlife. Here’s a video clip of the jacket being run through our Heidelberg KORD offset press this morning as we printed the final of three colours on a ginger-toned paper stock.

Interesting fact: Quite coincidentally, both Haley and Johnston have a character named Nicamos in their books. It is a Cree word which means sweetheart.


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