When people ask me what I do for a living and I reply I’m a book designer, they generally say: oh, so you design the book covers? There are designers who specialise in book cover design and especially in fiction titles, but I’m an integrated book designer, that is, I design the inside layout of the more complicated, generally non-fiction books, that feature a lot of illustration or photography along with informative text. Sometimes I design the covers as well, but with integrated books the insides are hugely important too.

As this is my career and something that I love doing, I thought it may be a good idea to explore the world of publishing and book design for those who aren’t so familiar with it. Along the way you may discover some books that you’d like to get yourself.

So I’m starting a new book review feature as part of my blog. One of the perks of designing books is that publishers kindly send you a copy of a book that you have worked on when the book is due for publication. This does mean that I have a lot of loaded bookshelves in my house as I have worked on hundreds of books in my 20+ years in publishing. So I’m going to review each book I receive from my perspective as I receive them and play a bit of catch up with the ones that are my favorites in the recent past.

In my years working in publishing from junior designer to art director, and now as a freelance designer, I have frequently worked on book ideas for book packagers. This isn’t exactly how it sounds; it doesn’t involve putting books in boxes and packaging them up. A book packager comes up with the ideas, authors, illustrators/photographers and design for books and sells the rights for publishers to sell them on the international market. All books at presentation stage are kept under wraps until nearing publication, so obviously I won’t be showing any designs for books that are still at presentation stage, only those books that are in print, and available for sale.

One of the major publishing events of the year has just concluded in Frankfurt, Germany. The Frankfurt Book Fair (or Frankfurter Buchmesse) is an annual event and the world’s largest book fair. This year’s book fair was from the 10th to 14th October. Other major book fairs include The London Book Fair, generally held in March/April, and the BEA (BookExpo America) in May.