We all know that cover design matters, but the visual elements of a book don’t stop at the jacket. Interior book design involves an artistic and logistical eye, a mind for both page layout as well as the music of the prose. Enter Jordan Wannemacher, a book designer who has taken her zeal for cover design straight to the pages themselves in her work for the interior of David J. Helfand’s A Survival Guide to the Misinformation Age.
Look at the interior design in A Survival Guide:
In Wannemacher’s words, interior book design is “the ultimate exercise in so many elements of graphic design.” The simplicity of the concept might deceive the untrained eye. “You have to have a really strong grid, you have to consider the practical physical nature of the package (is there enough room for your hands to hold the pages on the margins? will the type of binding make elements close to the gutter disappear?), you have to design anywhere from 20-200+ unique elements (I just finished an interior design with 122 unique styles for different elements) while ensuring they are all cohesive and unified,” Wannemacher said. “Because of all this, you also have to be a master at InDesign. There's no faking it when you have a 400-page book with extracts, poetry, charts, graphs, tables, figures, 4 levels of headings, and sidebars to design! It really does set off the same high in my brain that I get when working on a 1,000 piece puzzle.”
Now look at that same design again. It’s vibrating with nuance. It makes sense on, like, a thousand levels.
Wannemacher’s inspiration for the interior design of a survival guide came from two places: Alex Camlin’s cover design for the book and author David Helfand’s tireless pursuit of the truth in a world full of big, deceptive data. Of cover designer Alex Camlin, Wannemacher said, “I love getting to design an interior once the cover image is finalized so I can make it all one beautiful package. He used a perfect font (Veneer) that has tons of varying degrees of erosion built in, so I adapted this to the display for use on the title page and chapter titles and drop caps on the chapter openers.”
Both Camlin and Wannemacher successfully attempted to visually represent the raw, real, gritty nature of Helfand’s book. “The author is the Chair of the Astrophysics Department at Columbia University and since the book was about how to read charts, graphs, and tables to get the real truth out of data in our increasing age of misinformation, it was filled with plenty variations of all three! Normally this can make a book look dry and ‘textbooky’ but I wanted this to have a fun and accessible design since the aim of the book was to make language, data, and logic accessible to everyone, not just scientists,” Wannemacher said. “I used a lot of bold graphic elements, and even though it was only one-color, experimented with the enter grayscale to lighten it up so it wasn't too heavy with all of those elements on a page. This book is so readable, even for general readers, so I was proud to make it feel light and fun.”
Mary Ryan Karnes is a freelance writer and a Master's candidate in fiction at the University of Southern Mississippi.