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Three Concordia University Press books tapped for scholarly publishing design awards

The texts were top choices in two categories at the 2023 Association of University Presses Book, Jacket and Journal Show
January 25, 2024

A triptych of three book covers

The old adage says not to judge a book by its cover. But for three books from Concordia University Press (CUP), that type of evaluation is cause for celebration.

For 58 years, the Association of University (AU) Presses has celebrated design excellence in scholarly publishing with its annual juried competition, the Book, Jacket, and Journal Show. The show celebrates achievement in design, production and manufacture of books, covers, jackets, digital publications and journals by members of the university press community.

“So often, the best-in-book design comes from university presses. Many of us are non-profits looking to create beautiful and lasting works, rather than cutting corners on important things like paper quality and bindings,” says Ryan Van Huijstee, CUP’s acquisitions editor.

“When publishers aim to break even, they have more room to introduce custom design features and delightful surprises like French flaps, spot colours, varnishes, embossing or stamp foils.”

Double-page spread from a book with graphic line drawings of an interior garden space Double-page spread from Arthur Erickson on Learning Systems.

Concordia titles stand out

This year’s jury made 83 selections from a total of 488 submissions. The winning titles from CUP span visual and material culture, architecture and contemporary art.

Canada’s Place Names & How to Change Them, by Lauren Beck, was included in the jackets and covers category for its winning design. The book is the first to demonstrate how ineffectively place names and visual symbols represent the presence of women, Indigenous people, people of colour and people with disabilities.

CUP describes how the book “disentangles the distinct cultural, religious, and historical naming practices and visual emblems in Canada’s First Nations, provinces, territories, municipalities, and federal lands.”

Arthur Erickson on Learning Systems and Liz Magor’s Subject to Change: Writings and Interviews were both among 11 selections in the scholarly typographic category.

Published by CUP and the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Arthur Erickson on Learning Systems is a collection of the architect’s writings. Erickson champions interdisciplinary approaches to education and techniques for sharing knowledge.

Subject to Change: Writings and Interviews is a collection of essays, catalogue statements, conversations, lecture notes and unpublished writings by contemporary artist Liz Magor. The book includes writings that span more than 40 years and a preface by Magor. An introductory essay by curator and critic Philip Monk is also featured.

Photo of a double-page spread from a large hardcover book with images on one side and text on the other. Double-page spread from Liz Magor’s Subject to Change: Writings and Interviews.

Travelling exhibition on now at Webster Library

Van Huijstee points out that the deeply researched content and sharp focus of scholarly works drives designers to find creative ways to activate the material for readers.

“Concordia University Press has worked collaboratively among our staff, our co-publishing partners at the Canadian Centre for Architecture and our designers,” he notes. “But we place a great deal of trust in designers — they are the professionals, after all!”

CUP and the Concordia Library hosts the 2023 AUPresses Book, Jacket, and Journal Show, a travelling exhibition that represents the best in book design from over 150 scholarly publishers.

Concordia community members will have the rare opportunity to handle all 83 titles selected for their book covers, jackets and typography at 4TH SPACE, where they will be on display for part of the afternoon on January 31. The free event also includes a panel discussion with award-winning designers about which books stood out for them and the aspects they especially loved.

“The annual AUPresses Book, Jacket, and Journal Show is an industry highlight, one that celebrates the work of so many freelance designers who are such an integral part of the publishing industry,” Van Huijstee says.

“The designers literally make us look good!”

The travelling exhibition is on display now at Webster Library’s vitrines until January 30.

Concordia University Press at 4TH SPACE on January 31 to view the travelling exhibition and chat with award-winning designers.



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