Updates from The Digital Press: 100 Voices from Harrisburg’s African-American Community

The next six months will likely be the busiest stretch of time ever for The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. Not only will we have four books in various stages of production, but at least three of them will be scheduled for release before the end of 2020. 

The next book on my production schedule will be — ironically — the first book to be released: One Hundred Voices from Harrisburg’s African-American Community. It’s a collaboration with David Pettegrew’s Digital Harrisburg Project that will bring together in a single volume 100 short biographical sketches from Harrisburg’s African-American community. You can read more about it here.

We have a working draft of the cover of the book. My first effort sought to anchor the book in a historic streetscape from Harrisburg. The title was in Vocal Type’s Bayard font. Tré Seals’ Vocal Type is an African-American design house who has produced a number of interesting display fonts. For a book cover, we thought Bayard would be the best and it was pretty affordable.

One Hundred Voices Cover 01

This cover was vetoed by our collaborators in Harrisburg in large part because there were no people in it, and this book is about people as much as the place. So we went back to the drawing board and produced this:

One hundred voices cover 3 01

We added a bit of color to the photographs across the top of the book cover and to the title of the book. Since the covers of books from The Digital Press have to be “screen friendly” which means that they have to stand out at various sizes and in various, often cluttered, online contexts. So a bold title is absolutely necessary and the use of color, despite all the images being originally in black and white, will hopefully also help the book stand out. 

The design of the page also offered a bit of a challenge. Digital Harrisburg had collected a good bit of information on each individual for the project, but not all of the information was equally interesting to a casual reader. We also wanted to keep the book as short as was feasible without compromising a kind of easy readability. I also wanted to include some design elements that brought the book together. To that end, I included the “chapter number” voice in Bayard. The rest of the text is set in Jansen, which felt like a properly formal book text. 

100 Voices Layout PRINTERMARKS

The book is due to appear in early August and needs to be typeset by the end of next weekend in order for the book to be available at a public event in August. This is a nice example of how small, cooperative-style, scholar-led, presses can respond quickly to opportunities and find collaborative ways to produce quality publications rapidly.  

Stay tuned for more on upcoming work from The Digital Press!

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