Concordia University Press hosts the best of the best in Book, Jacket, and Journal design show

Author, Lauren Beck, won best book cover design on display. Photo by Aidan Raynor / The Concordian

The Concordia University Press wins three spots in the AUPresses Book, Jacket, and Journal Show.

They say not to judge a book by its cover, but that is exactly what the AUPresses Book, Jacket, and Journal Show is all about. 

With three books winning a spot in this year’s show, Concordia was eager to host the final stop in this year’s show. All 83 of the best designed book and journal jackets and covers from university presses around the world were on display at Concordia’s 4th Space on Wednesday, Jan. 31. Alongside all selected winners on display, the Concordia University Press was also excited to host a panel with award-winning designers, Sébastien Aubin and David Leblanc, designers in cover design and typography respectively.

“It was terrific that we could host the show at the same time that we had three mentions in the same year,” said Ryan Van Huijstee, the acquisitions editor at the Concordia University Press. Van Huijstee has dreamt of hosting the show for more than a decade now. Having worked in scholarly publishing for 17 years, he really wanted to show off the great work that the industry does. As a traveling show, the AUPresses design show makes stops at various member institutions all around the world, this year Concordia was lucky enough to host.

As a relatively new press, launched in 2016, it meant a lot to Van Huijstee that the Concordia University Press had three mentions in this year’s best book jackets and covers out of 83 of the almost 14,600 published works annually. 

With the new press “still trying to find [their] place within the larger industry,” Van Huijstee explained what they will focus on going forward: playing to the strengths of the institution it resides in, with a strong commitment to visual arts and social sciences.“I think that was very clear from the beginning when it was founded by Jeffery Little and our colleague Meredith Carruthers. They were very keen to ensure that the press had a distinct visual style” said Van Huijstee. 

One book from the press that ties in both elements of the press’ ethos is Canada’s Place Names & How to Change Them by Lauren Beck. Beck’s book won the best cover design award with Sébastian Aubin and his studio, OTAMI-ᐅᑕᒥ’s, interpretation of two 17th century maps that are referenced in the book. 

Original map of Wendake drawn by Jesuits in 1631, which inspired Aubin’s interpretation for Beck’s book cover. Archive from Library of Congress

In this interpretation Aubin and his team flipped the map of Wendake drawn by Jesuits in 1631, Description du pais des Hurons, originally detailed by Jean de Brébeuf and altered the colors with the purple representing wampum beads. Its simplicity and electric use of color were noted by the jurors. 

Along with the Concordia University Press’s commitment to visual arts, they also were founded on the commitment to being open access. Most other corporate or university presses are built around making as much profit as possible. However, Concordia University Press is “making an important contribution to our own history where it wouldn’t be necessarily served by a larger publisher,” according to Van Huijstee. As Concordia’s press is the second university press founded on open access following Athabasca University in Alberta, they are setting an example for others to follow.

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