A few years ago, I approached a publisher of space books with the idea of producing a series of volumes that would reprint the most important texts of the space age. The publisher passed, citing it being outside their business model, and they weren’t set up to work with outside designers. I still think it’s a good idea.
The first one would be the late Sir Arthur C. Clarke’s The Exploration of Space. First published in 1951, this was the book that predicted satellites and shuttles, and described the major concepts which included escaping from Earth’s gravity and re-entering its atmosphere (in one piece). It was the primer for all that would come after it.
So why not bring it back in print? The text remains clear and accessible, and with an update in its design packaging, adding the wealth of imagery now available to us, modern audiences would find it appealing.
The first cover concept (above) is conservative. There have been many space books with covers like this, so it sits in the middle of the pack. With an image of Earthrise from the Moon, dramatic on the black, you really can’t screw it up. Futura for the title is an easy choice with its cleanness and mathematical precision. Clarke’s name is set in Zapfino for that literary touch.
Another choice is to reverse the black of space books and put it on white. A red planet combined with a negative image of an eclipse is a more graphic image. The Gotham typeface is elegant like Futura but not quite as rigid.
And sometimes you just want to have fun. The typeface is Refrigerator.
Moving into an era of ebooks, it would be practical and desirable to offer books with multiple covers and interior design variations to reach different markets. Freed from having to print thousands of copies, design should take on a stronger and more diverse offering. Each of these covers would appeal to different market segments.
Below are two of the original interior pages and their simple line drawings.
And below are revisions to those drawings that would suit the black or white cover. For the more youth-oriented cover, it’s an easy modification of the vector art files to suit that style.