Some Updates from The Digital Press

For the first time in the history of The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, I have multiple books in multiple stages of production. It would be pretty intense if I didn’t have a great group of collaborators helping to keep all the balls in the air. The magic of a cooperative press is that many hands make light work. 

The project that I’m most immediately invested in at present is preparing the publication of an excavation manual. As several of my trusted advisors have pointed out to me, publishing an excavation manual is not something that happens very frequently. Usually, manuals are in-house documents circulated on a project to maintain consistency and rigor and, if they are made available to the public, it is without the trappings of formal publication. This is a fine and practical approach to making a project’s methodological assumptions available to the people most deeply involved in work, but it falls short of the level of disciplinary transparency that archaeology has come to embrace in recent decades. Certain, particularly thorough, manuals deserve publication as benchmarks against which changes in the field can be measured. 

In any event, publishing a field manual is tricky for lots of technical reasons. First and foremost, there is a demand for legibility both in paper and digital formats. I image this kind of document being read on phones, tablets, and in ratty paper copies strewn about workrooms. I decided to set the book in Lucida Bright at 10 points with headings being san serif Lucida Sans. Technical terms that refer to specific fields in databases or on various forms are in Lucida Small Caps. The font is BIG for clarity and the margins are generous to accommodate sweaty and dirty hands and notes. They also allow for me to put section numbers in the margins to allow a reader to find a reference section quickly without flipping back and forth to find where one is in the book.

CEM 3 12 1 01

CEM 3 12 2 01

The fussiest part about this kind of publication are the various illustrations and tables and the absence of long text blocks. I’ve been struggling to balance the need for variation in font sizes. Below is a draft of a very busy page. I’m not sure that I have it all right, but I think it’s headed in the right direction.

CEM 6 1

 As per usual, feedback of any kind is much appreciated.

As for the other two projects at The Press right now, I’ve blogged about one before. This is Micah Bloom’s Codex. You can get to know this project here. Right now we have eight short, but incisive essays in copy editing and two more on the way. The book design is being handled by Micah Bloom himself and some students at Minot State University, and I’ve been told its well underway. This project is complicated because rather than being just one book, it’s actually three. An archival, color, print copy, reproduced at a very high level and for very limited circulation, a free digital download, and a trade paperback which will be different from the color print copy but a more affordable and accessible way to get into the wondrous world of Codex.

Codex covers i copy

Codex cover digital press no micah

The final project is perhaps the most exciting and the most rapidly approaching (like a run-away freight train!). As local readers of this blog know, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the catastrophic Red River flood of 1997. This flood wrecked Grand Forks and prior to Hurricane Katrina required the largest peace-time evacuation in U.S. history. The memories of the flood remains quite vivid and raw for many in the community, and, despite the resurgence of Grand Forks in the two decades since the water retreated, there remains an ambivalence about the memory of the flood. This year a group of advanced students in the writing, editing, and publishing program here at UND have been putting together a book that brings new material and documents together about the flood under the guidance of David Haeselin. Dave and his students are doing great work so far and we’re looking forward to presenting a teaser for the book early in April.

In the meantime, I’ll put up a couple of cover mock ups and provisional titles just to keep you curious:

 

Haunted by Waters

 

Reflection on High Water 2

Three Things Wednesday

I’ve been writing a bit frantically lately, and this morning, I don’t really feel it. So instead of some (in)coherent blogpost rant, I’ll offer three quick things that occupied my mind on my drive to campus this morning.

Forty Book February

This month was the first month in the history of The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota that we sold 40 books (actually 41)! Selling paper books has always been a rather small part of what I do at The Digital Press, but as recent, middling figures for the sale for ebooks have shown, people love paper. (That being said, downloads of our books outpaced sales by about 10:1).

The strong February sales were driven in part by Eric Burin’s edited volume, Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College, but almost every book in our catalogue got some love this month. 

What is more interesting (at least to me) is that Visions of Substance: 3D Imaging in Mediterranean Archaeology edited by myself and Brandon Olson is the only book that did not sell a copy, despite being the most widely cited book in The Digital Press catalogue with close to 10 citations in a wide range of books and journals (Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory, Antiquity, Journal of Field Archaeology, Studies in Ancient Art and Civilization). I suspect the price ($24) has something to do with it and this was an unavoidable consequence of the color printing. Maybe the topic of the book, which was meant to capture a particular moment in time, made the book easily dated?

Immigrants and Emerson 

Here in the Northland, we’ve heard an alarming number of stories about immigrants crossing the rural border between the U.S. and Canada out of fear of deportation. Crossing the border by foot in the winter has cost some of these individuals fingers and toes and nearly their lives. This terrifying new reality has put a profoundly human and local face on the global refugee crisis and got me and my colleagues, Richard Rothaus and Kostis Kourelis, thinking about whether an archaeology of these crossings could help us (and our communities) understand what we need to do to help people so desperate and afraid that they’d risk their lives to be free. Taking a page from Jason De León’s Undocumented Migration Project and our own experience working on the archaeology of the contemporary world, we’ve just begun to imagine ways in which we could realize an archaeology of care here in North Dakota.

We don’t have plans yet and recognize the need for collaboration on both sides of the border and the time and space to develop a thoughtful, humane, and systematic approach to the local side of a global problem. I’m looking forward to the forthcoming forum in the Journal of Contemporary Archaeology that will help frame archaeology’s role in the ongoing crisis.

Threshold Concepts

The next big thing in pedagogy (at least here in North Dakota) seems to be threshold concepts. While I won’t pretend to understand the theoretical or conceptual underpinnings of the idea, it seems to have something to with the idea or concept in a class (or even a discipline) that pushes a student from superficial bafflement to deep understanding. I like the idea because it so neatly describes the breakthrough point that most of us have experienced when studying, say, an language or a particularly tricky text that allows us almost suddenly to wrap our heads around what an author or even a culture is saying. The idea behind threshold concepts, from what I gather, is to recognize and foreground the understanding that creates this breakthrough experience.

A colleague got me thinking about the threshold concepts for history and how students think about arguments, facts, evidence, and theory. For many – even some of our M.A. students – history is about combining “facts” into arguments. This is a fine basic understanding, but runs the risk of essentializing historical evidence as static facts and viewing arguments as self-contained entities that do not rely on larger (and more complex) standards for their validity. After all, an argument is only as good within a particular regime of authority, style, discourse, and even political standing. 

Picking the President on Facebook Live

I’m excited for the first Facebook Live event hosted by The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. It happens at 1 pm CST today and will feature Eric Burin, editor of Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College

The event is free and open to everyone to watch on Picking the President’s Facebook page.

First, if you haven’t already, download the book for free. If you haven’t had a chance to read it all, that’s ok, there won’t be a quiz.

Then, show up at 1 pm CST.

If you have a question or a comment, use the hashtag #PickingthePres on Twitter or Facebook or comment directly on the Facebook feed. 

It will be fun! 

Picking the President Cover

A Facebook Live Event: Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota is continuing to experiment with digital and new media by hosting a Facebook Live event with Eric Burin. He’ll discuss his recent edited book, Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College which brought together over a dozen scholars from across the disciplines to discuss this history of the Electoral College and how it worked in the most recent election. Dr. Burin will be on Facebook Live to talk discuss the book and to take general questions and comments about the history and significance of the Electoral College in American politics.

To make this happen, we’re teaming up with our friends at the North Dakota Humanities Council. They suggested it, I’m working on figuring out how to do it, and we’re both going to promote it. A little prodding by the NDHC folks in Bismarck, and we’re moving into the social media world. Check it out, Picking the President has its own Facebook page now!

If it’s me, the Humanities Council, Eric Burin, and The Digital Press, then you definitely should participate, and here’s how:

First, go and download Picking the President for free at The Digital Press or if you really want it a paper copy, ordering on via Amazon.

We’ll be broadcasting on Picking the President’s Facebook page starting a 1 pm (CST) February 21st. To ask questions, use the hashtag #PickingthePres on Twitter or Facebook or comment here on this blog or over the blog post on this event on the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota web site.  

Here’s Dr. Burin with Abe Lincoln:

Burin and Licnoln

Convergence: Punk, Slow, and Care in a Digital World

Every now and then I start to worry that my interests are diverging and running away in every direction and leaving me adrift. With budget cuts, possible changing in our teaching/research balance, a shift away from graduate education, and many of my field archaeology projects entire their final seasons, I find myself like many “mid-career” faculty bereft of morale, motivation, and, frankly, direction. So I get to thinking about convergence.

Every now and then, I read something or turn an idea around enough in my creaking, void-filled, mind that I get what other people have often described as an “idea.” This weekend, I had a glimpse of how several tracks in my academic and intellectual development might actually be converging around a theme (or two maybe?) that a few blog posts this weekend helped me to recognize more fully.

I’m going to try to trace these out this morning and to make sense of what my various projects are trying to do and say.

Over the last few years, my colleagues and I have had some entertaining, and I hope useful, conversations centered on three concepts in archaeological research:

1. Punk Archaeology
2. Slow Archaeology
3. Archaeology of Care

I can’t take credit, really, for any of these, but I probably am as responsible as anyone for coining terms to describe them, and promoting the use of these terms.

Punk Archaeology celebrates the performative, DIY, and improvised aspects of archaeological field work and thinking. It has tended to focus a bit more on the archaeology of the contemporary world because this is where archaeological methods and practices have tend to break down when confronted with challenges such as modern abundance leading archaeologists to innovate on the fly, our work is less bound by the formal limits of the site and more publicly accessible, and contemporary observers are more willing to offer dissonant, alternative, and conflicting perspectives. As a result, punk archaeology – at its best – defamiliarized the familiar in everyday life (much like punk takes the basic structure of pop song and makes it something else) and familiarizes the unfamiliar in archaeological practice by putting it on display. In short, it can turn archaeology inside out.

Slow Archaeology is a critique of the role of technology in archaeological practice. I’ve argued that the Taylorist drive for efficiency has produced field practices that tend to fragment both how we describe material culture but also our experiences. At its most perverse, field work is reduced to “data collection” and digital tools are celebrated as ways to make the harvesting of “raw data” more efficient. There is no doubt that field work should be efficient and that technology will improve not only what we collect from the field, but also how we collect archaeological information. Slow archaeology, however, calls for us to maintain a space in archaeological field practice for analysis and interpretation and to be patient with these processes. Moving forward, I’d like to see slow archaeology celebrate integrative practices in archaeological field work that both bring together our fragmented techniques in the field and the information that these techniques produce.

Archaeology of Care. The archaeology of care is a term coined by my colleague Richard Rothaus and, like slow and punk archaeology, it offers a critical reflection on the practice and performance of archaeology. It stemmed from the observation that people who we encountered in the Bakken were genuinely moved by our archaeological and archaeological interest in their world and lives. While neither Richard nor I conceived of our project as a gesture to the people (or objects) that we studied, it became pretty obvious that archaeological work became a medium through which shared understanding of the past and the present are formed. For us at least, the archaeology of care was de-theorized and reflected our very practical experiences doing archaeology of and in the contemporary world.

It has taken me a while to recognize that these three moves in my archaeological thinking have focused on a number of shared themes centered largely on our practices in the field: (1) a focus on archaeology as performance and experience, (2) a tendency to recognize these experiences a bringing together people, data, and objects, and (3) a preference for DIY and an aversion to “technological solutionism” in its various forms.

These ideas have started to come together with another couple of “projects” that I’ve been slowly working on over the last few years. As readers of this blog know, I’ve invested a good bit of time and energy into The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota. This emerged directly from my interest in punk archaeology (which became the first book from the press). It started as an experiment in DIY publishing and has slowly expanded into a project designed to the traditional fragmentation of the publishing process that separates the authors from the publishers. At my little press, we create an environment where authors, editors, and publishers work together to produce books at a lower cost than traditional commercial publishing, but with opportunities for more experimentation and control for the authors.

I’m pretty upfront with my authors that I am not a conventional publisher. As my more critical colleagues point out, my books tend to be a bit rough around the edges, my distribution channels remain a bit uncertain, and everything is essentially experimental. But for my authors and editors, this seems to work. If anything, I have more than enough books to keep my enterprise afloat, to hold my interest, and to keep me feeling that this is a meaningful extension of my approach to archaeology and archaeological knowledge production.

What prompted this sudden bout of introspection was a little article titled “Ed-Tech in a Time of Trump” by Audrey Waters. Go read it (and comment if you want; there is the start of a little Hypothes.is comment thread). To summarize a complex argument, trends in Ed-Tech data collection are troubling for a number of reasons. First, Waters critiques the basic philosophy that if we collect enough data on our students we can customize our educational practices to produce particular outcomes. Most thoughtful educators realize that this is not how teaching or learning works just as most thoughtful archaeologists do not think that intensified scrutiny and technologies in how we collect “all of the datas” will produce better archaeological knowledge more efficiently. (Do check out Dimitri Nakassis’s refinement of my critiques of data at his blog especially here and here and here.)

At the same time, we are lured by the temptation of easy digital data collection especially in online courses or in courses with substantial online components. Universities have developed sophisticated data collection schemes as their infrastructure has become digital and student interactions with almost all services is mediated by tools that collect data to produce increasingly comprehensive digital profiles of students. Even with the protections offered by FERPA, universities have vast quantities of data on students that can be leveraged internally to encourage practices that “better” serve students. Students are consumers and the university has indulged in all the conceits of online consumer culture. In place of a culture of care grounded in complex experiences of teaching and learning, the university as an institution has fragmented students into bundles and clusters of data that can be arranged to anticipate and serve student and administrative expectations. This has particularly toxic potential as calls to “reinvent education” often look to technologies to create the appearance of doing more with less, while obscuring the reality that less almost always means less in education.

What is more troubling for Waters is that the calls to “reinvent education” or to “innovate” almost always rest on the assumption that current practices are flawed. The temptation is to identify the problems with education through scrutiny of “big data” rather than attention to small, daily practices. With the lure of big fixes residing in big data issues of security and privacy abound. What is more terrifying still is that for public universities, this data could easily fall into the hands of politically motivated leaders either on campus or at the state or local levels who could use students and faculty data for purposes that run counter to many of our values as educators, scholars, and public servants. Waters evokes the always chilling specter of Nazi data collection as an example for how the state can mine “big data” for nefarious purposes.

To be clear, I don’t see slow archaeology, punk archaeology, the archaeology of care, or The Digital Press as a bulwark against Nazism or as explicitly political statements, but I would like to think that the common aspects of these projects represent a kind of resistance to some of the more troubling trends in academic practices and higher education these days. Calling for greater scrutiny of practice in a time of big data, promoting DIY among students and colleagues, and demonstrating how integration, and care, rather than fragmentation and “analysis” can produce meaningful and significant results. 

Picking the President in Paper and Other Press News

I’m happy to announce that sixth (or seventh) book from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota, Eric Burin’s Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College, is now available in glorious, durable paper from Amazon.com. It’s $8. That’s less than a cup of coffee at Starbucks or a six-pack of “craft beer.” 

The paper version of Picking the President is based on the slightly updated version (version 1.3 for those of you keeping track at home!) which was a general tidying up of the text. It is the same version that the individual offprints are based on just with a slightly different cover.

So head on over to The Digital Press now and download a copy or, if the intoxicating smell of the paper book is your thing, pop on over to Amazon and buy one

Ec project cover2 02cropped

If you’ve had about enough of the Electoral College and its consequences these days, then perhaps digital archaeology is more to your taste. If so, please check out Jody Gordon’s paper at the American Schools of Oriental Research Annual Meeting.

Jody provides a sweeping overview of the contents of a book that he edited with Erin Walcek Averett and Derek Counts, Mobilizing the Past for a Digital Future: The Potential of Digital Archaeology. The book has achieved almost 1000 downloads. If you want the paper version, you can grab it for $20 on Amazon

 

Mtp cover 3dirt

Finally, here is a sneak peak at a project that The Digital Press is assisting with. It’s an open access textbook on the History of Applied Science and Technology being developed by one of our Ph.D. Students Danielle Mead Skjelver and our historian of science here at the University of North Dakota, Hans Broedel. While the exact role for the Digital Press is not entirely clear, they are partnering with the Rebus Foundation to make this happen, and their process got a little positive attention this week. Check it out here.

More on Picking the President

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota’s most recent book, Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College edited by Eric Burin is getting some positive attention both around campus and in the local media. 

If you haven’t downloaded the book, do it today! 

Check out Eric Burin’s interview with Prairie Public Radio’s Main Street here.

Our friend Jack Russel Weinstein has posted it to his blog, PQED, which I’m sure gets far more readers than this little outfit!

The book and some brilliant words from me and Eric also appeared today in the local campus outlet UNDToday. 

This weekend, I’ll get it all set for paper publication and with any luck it’ll be available on Amazon by the end of the month.

Announcing Picking the President

It is my pleasure to announce the publication of Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College edited by Eric Burin by The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota.

This The Digital Press’s first effort at a “quick book” that draws together essay from over a dozen authors on the Electoral College. Some were published before and some were written for this book. We combined these essays with historical documents and hope that they provide a platform for thoughtful engagement. The entire project took less than a month from start to finish owing largely to the hard work of my colleague and the book’s editor Eric Burin and the willingness of the contributors to move quickly over the winter break! It was a real rush to get the entire book together this quickly and aside from a few little glitches – like the first page of the table of contents on an even numbered page (which will be ironed out before the book is printed on paper). 

We also collaborated with North Dakota Quarterly to extend the reach of the Digital Press to new readers and a new audience, pushing the book out late yesterday afternoon on the NDQ website

Finally, working on this book was such a welcome respite from winter writing grind. I’ve spent the last few weeks hacking through a long term writing project, and the rush of producing a book in a deeply collaborative way was exactly the tonic that saved me from a total implosion into my own mind. 

Picking the President Cover

Here’s the blurb:

Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College. Edited by Eric Burin

The 2016 presidential election has sparked an unprecedented interest in the Electoral College. In response to Donald Trump winning the presidency despite losing the popular vote, numerous individuals have weighed in with letters-to-the-editor, op-eds, blog posts, videos, and the like, and thanks to the revolution in digital communications, these items have reached an exceptionally wide audience. In short, never before have so many people had so much to say about the Electoral College.

To facilitate and expand the conversation, Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College offers brief essays that examine the Electoral College from different disciplinary perspectives, including philosophy, mathematics, political science, history, and pedagogy. Along the way, the essays address a variety of questions about the Electoral College: Why was it created? How has it changed over time? Who benefits from it? Is it just? How will future demographic patterns affect it? Should we alter or abolish the Electoral College, and if so, what should replace it? In exploring these matters, Picking the President enhances our understanding of one of America’s most high-profile, momentous issues.

With contributions by Eric Burin, Brad Austin, Bill Caraher, Allen C. Guelzo and James H. Hulme, Mark Stephen Jendrysik, Donald F. Johnson, Benjamin J. Kassow, Andrew Meyer, Cynthia Culver Prescott, Timothy Prescott, Patrick Rael, Andrew Shankman, Manisha Sinha, Mark Trahant, and Jack Weinstein.

~

As you all know, the Digital Press relies on friends and supporters to get our books into the hands of interested readers. We think this book brings together over a dozen short essays and significant historical document in an effort to understand in a more nuanced way the history and arguments for and against the Electoral College in the immediate context of the 2016 presidential election. We also hope that this book will find its way into classrooms both on campus and beyond. It’s concise form, open access status, perspective and provocative essays, and the inclusion of historical documents make a platform for informed discussion.

Here’s a link to the book: https://thedigitalpress.org/picking-the-president/

Here’s (my version of the) official press release for the book:

Announcing the Newest Title from The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota:
Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College. Edited by Eric Burin. 

No matter where one stands in American politics, the 2016 presidential elections were momentous. After a long and contentious campaign, it seemed somehow fitting that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote and Donald Trump won the electoral vote. This touched off another round in the long running debate over the role of the Electoral College in American presidential elections.

The wide range of views on the Electoral College in the state and national media prompted Prof. Eric Burin of the Department of History to team up with North Dakota Quarterly and the Digital Press at the University of North Dakota to publish Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College. This volume brings together scholars from across campus, the state, and the US to discuss the history and the future of the Electoral College.

For Prof. Burin, “the Electoral College may be the most momentous and contentious feature of American life. It determines who will be president, the most powerful office in the world. The stakes couldn’t be higher.  That’s why people feel so strongly about it.  That’s also why we need to study it so carefully.”

While all the contributors prepared their essays in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, their perspectives span from the world of antiquity to Early Modern Europe, 19th century America, and the present day. Drawing on disciplines as diverse as math, philosophy, communications, and political science, Burin notes: “Picking the President aims to enrich the public conservation about the Electoral College. The book’s collection of brief, engaging, and insightful essays are not intended to be the final word on the Electoral College. Rather, the goal is to make our discussions on the subject even more wide-ranging, thoughtful, and rewarding.”

The book also includes a series of important documents in the history of the Electoral College including both well-known texts like Article II of the U.S. Constitution which established the Electoral College and documents that might be less familiar to the general public like James Madison’s correspondence with John Hillhouse and George Hay on the issue.

The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota leverages a new ecosystem of digital publishing tools, social media distribution, and print-on-demand printing to produce high quality digital publication.  These digital tools allow the Digital Press to bringing together scholars from campus, the state, and the nation to engage thoughtfully in a conversation of immediate relevance. Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Debbie Storrs remarks: “The scholars in this volume represent multiple perspectives and demonstrate in their responsiveness and urgency an innovative deployment, made possible by digital technology and committed scholarship, of disciplinary expertise to engage public discussion, democracy and citizenship. The continued relevance of the liberal arts is revealed in the thoughtful analysis of the Electoral College by scholars.”

The book is available as a free download here.

And will be available at the end of the month as a low-cost paperback on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

Book Making Day: Picking the President

Today is book making day, and, as anyone who has ever worked with The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota knows, this is my favorite day. Today, I’m going to put the finishing touches on Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College, edited by Eric Burin

It’s an exciting project for a number of reasons. First, it’s timely and is a good read! It brings together a nice combination of new works and previously published articles on the Electoral College. It is also well-balanced between UND contributors and contributors of national status, and I think the perspectives offered reflect a range of perspectives. I’m not sure the book is comprehensive, in terms of views on the Electoral College, but I think there is plenty of room for a reader to challenge the perspectives offered in the book and come to their own conclusions on its role in the American republic.

I enjoyed working closely with a colleague in the Department of History to produce something that, with any luck, should offer both our department and the University of North Dakota some visibility at a time when the fate of higher education in the state is being actively debated. 

Finally, and most importantly, this is the first time The Digital Press produced a “quick book.” That is a book length treatment of an issue of pressing and historic significance. Generally speaking conventional academic publishing is a slow process. Publishers queue books up for production and design, copy-editing, correspondence, printing, and distribution all take place on a carefully managed schedule of deadlines. The Digital Press is a very, very small and as a result, we have great flexibility. We also work so closely with our authors and contributors who almost all appreciated the pressing deadlines (particularly the editor of this book, Eric Burin) and got things done on time and to spec.

So stay tuned! With any luck, this book will appear in the next 12 hours.

Here’s a little sneak peek.

 

Picking the President Jan 8 Draft

 

Picking the President Jan 8 DraftTOC

Picking the President Jan 8 DraftTOC2

Picking the President Jan 8 DraftTOC3

Picking the President Jan 8 WRC

Another Book by its Cover

This week I’ve spent some of my free thinking about the cover for The Digital Press at the University of North Dakota’s newest book: Picking the President: Understanding the Electoral College edited by Eric Burin. In most cases I fuss with book covers and chat with more designer-ly friends or even contract with someone to produce it. Since Picking the President is a “quick book” designed to provoke questions, conversation, and debate about the electoral college in light of the recent presidential election, I don’t really have the luxury of a protracted design process (nor do I feel pushing someone to produce a cover quickly over the holidays is a very nice thing to do). So, I’m doing this on my own! 

I wanted to do two things in my cover design. First, I wanted to use blue and red which are colors now closely associated with the Democratic and Republican parties. Second, I wanted to use an old style font evocative of that used on such 18th century publication. I really like the font Caslon (and its slightly weightier modern variants) because they were historically common and remain recognizable as “olde tyme” fonts.

My first effort set the works “Picking the President” against an outline of the U.S. and bands of blue and red. 

EC Project Cover 01

This cover is decent, I guess, although I thought the text was hard to read against the blue so I made the blue and red a bit opaque. Unfortunately that made the colors look faded and a bit like a bad color photocopy. And the bands of red and blue look a bit like the French flag. The font is Didot which is fine, but a bit contemporary for what I was after.

I messed with a few other designs with more and with less color and finally figured out what the outline of the U.S. needed. It needed a flag!

EC Project Cover2 2 01

I like the Caslon font on this cover too, although I’m never entirely happy with how “P”s work with small caps. There is always some kind of kerning issue. That being said, I think this works a good bit better both in terms of legibility and style. Barring an overwhelming desire to mess with this more or I get some good suggestions from readers!