Posts Tagged 'Touchstone colophon design'

Everyone needs a Touchstone

the new Touchstone colophon

We’ve been having fun this week following the re-branding we did for Touchstone books this summer.  Stacy Creamer, the publisher of Touchstone books, gave an interview to Publisher’s Weekly last week about the renaming and redesign of the Touchstone imprint.

“We really are one team, one staff, and one unique publishing imprint. It seemed that we only needed one name,” said Creamer.
Editorial direction typically changes when new editors and publishers join imprints, and that has been the case at Touchstone. Creamer came to Touchstone/Fireside from Doubleday Broadway in May 2009. “Ever since I got here, I have been eager to rebrand us,” she said. “It’s more like the name catching up with reality than anything else.”

Touchstone has also launched a new Facebook page facebook.com/touchstonebooks.  There you can see some of the famous authors and rock stars who are being published by Touchstone.  That includes Rick Springfield, Philippa Gregory, Duff McKagan from Guns ‘n Roses and Lance Armstrong.

Here’s a photo of publisher Stacy Creamer with Rick Springfield.  [Correction! Photo credits and rights belong to Jane Grimaldi]

Rick Springfield and Stacy Creamer (photo credit and copyright: Jane Grimaldi

Here’s the Touchstone story, in the words of the publisher:

The books were publish are themselves touchstones, superlative examples of their types, against which others in their categories may be judged.

For our new colophon, we’ve chosen a figure that is expressive of the spirit that animates Touchstone’s approach to every book on our list, which is to say one of boundless energy and genuine, passionate enthusiasm.  Nothing could be truer about our dedication to our authors and their books.

Here’s a toast to a superlative success for Stacy, David Falk, Cherlynne Li and everyone else at Touchstone!

A new Touchstone, at a bookstore near you!

I am very pleased, delighted and happy to share with you the new colophon we created for Touchstone books.

the new Touchstone colophon

The new Touchstone colophon

But first, a little story about how we worked with the Publisher, Stacy Creamer and the Associate Publisher David Falk.

Touchstone Fireside Publishing is an imprint of Simon & Schuster.  They publish people like Lance Armstrong, Rick Springfield, Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo and Philippa Gregory.    They came to us with a question — how to better manage their imprint branding since “Touchstone Fireside” is rather a mouthful.  Both Touchstone and Fireside had been the trade paperback imprints of Simon & Schuster. One focused on fiction and the other was non-fiction.  Eventually they expanded from paperbacks into hardcover — at the same time that other Simon & Schuster hardcover imprints were migrating into paperbacks.

While each name had its individual colophon, on corporate communications they were mashed together like this:

Touchstone/Fireside old logo

Touchstone/Fireside old logo

Stacy and David  wanted to consolidate into a single name and a single logo to make life less confusing authors, for booksellers, for agents, for consumers and even for themselves.  As you see above, they had 2 names, then “A Division of Simon & Schuster” and then a different font for the corporate endorsement, “A CBS Company.”

Here’s what the old Touchstone logo reminded me of:

Clothesline

Clothesline

We explored the two metaphors — touchstones and firesides (along with the fireplace implement) — to see how they would fit with Stacy Creamer’s vision and the types of books they would be publishing in the future.

A fireside is home, comfort, warmth, country-side, a bit of a sleepy afternoon curled up in a large chair with a book in your lap.  Rather Jane Austen-ish.

A touchstone is a benchmark of excellence by which all else is compared.  It is a place you return to again and again to align yourself.  It is rather like the north star, a way of finding what is true.

Those are two very different metaphorical ways of viewing books and the act of reading.  Stacy clearly saw the future of the imprint aligned with Touchstones of excellence rather than an afternoon nap in the living room before a crackling log.

Once it was decided to consolidate under the Touchstone name, we began the design process.  We looked a variety of approaches.  Some were more literal than others.  Some more suggestive.  Here is also a situation where you can reinforce the name through a literal touchstone or you can expand the associations by being more…metaphorical about the metaphor.  (Is that correct English?)

The final direction (under Michael Thibodeau’s direction, of course!) was the design you see at the top of this post.  The speed, the sense of direction and purpose, the reaching for a star, the guiding star, the soaring all contribute to the metaphor of excellence, of the standard by which all will be met.

Here is the new story of the renewed imprint:

The new Touchstone story, pg 1

The new Touchstone story pg 1

The new Touchstone story, pg 2

The new Touchstone story, pg 2

So now you have the whole story!

Selling a million books! – or – creating the new Touchstone Books colophon

It’s been a lot of fun working with the folks at Touchstone/Fireside books on their rebranding, including the publisher Stacy Creamer and associate publisher David Falk.

During the process I learned a bit about printing and publishing that I had never heard before.  In publishing a logo is called a colophon.  It’s history traces back to the times of private printers in 15th century Europe.  Not surprisingly, it is also known as a printer’s mark.

There is something talismanic about a book colophon.  A symbol, a calling.  Over the years I’ve spent a lot of time looking at those talismans on the spines of books.  A by-product of a life surrounded by books — everything from working at a used book depot to working for J.D. Salinger’s literary agent, to my graduate degree in creative writing and my own fiction writing.  Right or wrong, I  judge a book not by its cover but by the colophon on the cover.  The 3 fish of FSG.  The borzoi dog of Alfred A. Knopf.  And the Penguin.

Farrar Straus & Giroux colophon

W.A. Dwiggins created many versions of the Knopf borzoi colophon.

Borzoi colophon by W.A. Dwiggins

Paul Rand did a borzoi colophon, too:

Borzoi colophon by Paul Rand

And a more recent one by Triboro Design.

Borzoi colophon by Triboro Design

It is wonderful to trace how the colophons of Knopf have gone in so many directions and yet maintained their integrity and coherence.

There’s something here at branding people can discover.  Many of us in corporate identity and brand are sticklers about consistency, consistency, consistency in applying logos and designs.  When a design like the London 2012 Olympics comes out, with multiple variations, it violates this sense of consistency.  But Knopf beat everyone to this game years ago!

You can read more about the history of the borzoi here.  Did you know that Khalil Gibran created one of the borzoi colophons?

In the early 1990s I was at a dinner in honor of Peter Smith.  During his thanking the University for the honor, he explain that as a child he wanted to be a Penguin when he grew up.  That desire to be a Penguin led him to became a writer and involved with the arts — he is Director Emeritus of Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center of the Arts and former Dean of Columbia’s School of the Arts.  Ah, what a wonderful statement!  When I grow up I want to be a Penguin!  (Actually I am partially a Penguin, since they’ve included my writing in The Bruce Springsteen Reader).

Penguin colophon by E. P. Young

Here’s the anthology of writings about Springsteen which included my short fiction piece, “Asbury Park”:

Penguin anthology including my short fiction

A couple of days ago Stacy Creamer, the publisher of Touchstone, unofficially introduced the new Touchstone colophon on Facebook.  I’ll post it here when there’s a more official launch, along with some comments from Michael Thibodeau about where he drew his inspiration for the colophon.  We’ll also put up something more official on our company website.

I am expecting that the new colophon will be on millions and millions of book spines come this fall!  No pressure, Stacy and David!


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 28 other followers