The gift of book design

(Original post date: November 26, 2009)

Our work on this book has been immeasurably facilitated and improved by the skills of our longtime friend and colleague, Rich Hendel, for many years the head designer and production manager at the University of North Carolina Press.  Rich designed both of David’s UNC Press books (All That Is Native and Fine, recently reissued in its 25th anniversary edition, and Rascally Signs in Sacred Places: The Politics of Culture in Nicaragua), as well as Anne’s Super-Scenic Motorway: A Blue Ridge Parkway History.  It was he who first suggested that we undertake the children’s book project, offering to design and produce it for us.  We knew even then what a generous offer that was, but we know much better now.  Watching Rich take the project from our first sketchy text to the book that eventually emerged taught us how how far beyond our own knowledge his expert work lay, and gave us a two-year course in some of the intricacies of book design and production.  As we went to press, Rich’s multi-page technical printing instructions to Regent Publishing Services could have been written only by someone who knew exactly, from long years of experience, what he was doing — which we emphatically did not.  Truths are rarely simple, but this one is: without Rich, we could not have done it.   Some of his wisdom and insight about book design appeared in his On Book Design (Yale University Press, 1998).

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