Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Eye-Catching, Or What?

As I mentioned last time, while I was pining away for the unattainable cover, I availed myself of Tony’s photographic services. I put on this red dress......which had been hanging in my closet. I mean really just hanging in my closet; I don’t think I’ve ever even worn the thing. It was early evening and great light, so we went down our hill to the meadow where interesting things were beginning to crop up, enough to tickle the ankles but no mean nettles or anything. (If you live in Vermont you might not have much call for a red dress, but you could well have a meadow.) He zoomed in to get the fabric and zoomed out to get me (my About Me photo is from this run) and then sent the best to Amy so that she could work her magic.

Amy speaks a language on the computer that I could never understand and she adjusted and reshaped the image so that, to our eyes, it looked right with the text (and chaise). There were a few interruptions—her adorable daughters came in to present her with a chain of daffodils and later a lilac bouquet—but despite these rather fetching distractions we were done in no time. And here it is:What do you think of it? The amazing thing about the technology we’re using is that I can try out a cover, and if I decide to change it I can. But let’s not even think about that possibility….This cover makes you want to run out and buy this book, right?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cover Story

It’s about time I got back to my book. It’s called The Therapist’s New Clothes and it tells the story of my training as a psychotherapist. (Note: I am currently a writer and not a psychotherapist.) In order for the book to join its fellows on shelves, display tables, and nightstands, it needed to have a cover.

Now, the inside of my head probably looks something like this:(Photo by Jake von Slatt. See I have no confidence in my sense of design. I approached a local artist, the excellent and versatile Amy Anselmo. Very quickly we established our fondness for the chaise longue, that universal emblem of talk therapy. Here is a chaise of her creation:

Amy did a trial design, a rich red cover with white type and an elegant red velvet chaise. I called her and said that something was missing—clothes. “Come on over,” she said. “We’ll try out designs right here.” So I went to my closet and stuffed a bunch of clothes in a bag, including some flowing jackets I wore during my training and which are mentioned in the book, and drove to her house. And here’s where things went awry: I had tucked in a garment by a designer whose work Amy and I both adored. The light hit funny when Amy tried to photograph the piece, so we played with images from the artist’s website. Some photoshopping, a bit of fading, and we had it—a gorgeous book cover! So easy!

Too easy, as it turned out. The designer wasn’t comfortable with my using it. She had a licensing agreement, deals pending, needed to manage how her work appeared in the world. How confounding this was—the photo was out there, to be nabbed with a few keystrokes, but I couldn’t “have” it. I was attached to the design, kind of like a crush, and had to wean myself away from it. At Amy’s suggestion, my husband, Tony, took a bunch of pictures of me wearing a red velvet dress (we decided to stick with that theme). She experimented with the images and came up with something quite nice. Many who saw both cover designs liked this one better. We just have a bit of tweaking yet to do.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another Fine Press for the Purist

As I rev up to use the Espresso Book Machine, tossing my words in the device like so many coffee beans, I can't resist indulging in nostalgia for the older fine presses. This hand press:is the Officina Bodoni, which launched the renowned Stamperia Valdonega (, the firm that produced many of my uncle's works (some special editions on this very press). Uncle Jim used to travel to Verona and work directly with Martino Mardersteig, taking part in the magical process that turns a sheaf of manuscript pages into a book.

Today's Stamperia Veldonega draws upon both old and new technologies. For example, the firm now has digital fonts of classic typefaces. Which I imagine is somewhat different from this:(Photos by R.R. at the Institute for Textkritik in Heidelberg.)

I don't know about you, but just knowing that such presses are out there makes me happy.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Book, Meet Your Maker

So I drive up to Manchester. It’s a hot day and the leaves are coming out; I see less and less green as I go north and up into the mountains, as though moving backward in time.

As always, things are bustling at the Northshire. I introduce myself to Annette Rodefeld, who coordinates the Print on Demand program, and ask about the Espresso Book Machine (which is right there, occupying the better part of the entrance-way, but I’m rather shy around machines.) “We have lovingly named him Lurch,” she says, “because he groans and he’s big.” I must have given her a funny look because she quickly added, “We had to give him a name—he’s part of the staff.”Alas, Lurch wasn’t feeling his best. He had been turning out books that were slightly trapezoid, with the trim about 1/16 of an inch off. Fortunately, a kind fellow had flown in from St. Louis to tend to his care. And the prognosis is excellent. (Lurch, you see, is a 1.5 model. The new-and-improved 2.0 is one-third the size and the kinks have been worked out.)

Lurch’s dyspeptic state meant I couldn’t see him in action just now. But soon enough…