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Michael Chabon E-Books for Open Road Media

Connie Gabbert’s repackaging of five Chabon novels strikes a vintage note.

Contributed by Marc Oxborrow on Jan 12th, 2012.

The graphic artifacts of the Art Deco era, from WPA posters to the ephemera of 1939 World’s Fair, have long been a source of personal inspiration. Despite countless riffs and rip-offs by designers over the years, the results still grab my attention when this visual vocabulary is deployed in a stylish and appropriate way. And if a charmingly idiosyncratic sans serif I don’t recognize is involved? Even better.

Such is the case with designer Connie Gabbert’s covers for 5 e-book editions of work by Michael Chabon. The author’s “nostalgia for bygone modes of storytelling,” as the series’ publisher puts it, make the vintage approach an apt choice.* Chabon’s books have had typographically driven covers before, but these stylishly weathered designs provide a striking and cohesive identity for this collection from Open Road Media.

Distinguished by its unusual ‘N’ and ‘M’, Anorak was originally released as BF PXL-Compressor in 1999. Oliver Funke and Guido Schneider revised the family in 2005 and renamed it. See more on MyFonts.

As befits a well-known wordsmith, the author’s name is the largest element on the cover. It’s set in Anorak, a little-used face designed by Oliver Funke and first released by Brass Fonts in 1999. During her search for a geometric, masculine condensed font, the unique ‘M’ and ‘N’ caught Gabbert’s eye. “I thought these characters might make the author’s name look a bit more branded,” she notes.

It’s a credit to the designer that the ubiquitous Gotham, used to set the book’s title, manages to look fresh and at home here, although this is less of a surprise when you consider Hoefler & Frere-Jones’ description of their source material: “the no-nonsense lettering of the American vernacular.” This straightforward presentation of the titles keeps the covers from slipping into pastiche.

Interestingly, the initial design for the covers took a different tack: “I originally fleshed out the whole series with hand-lettering. However, in the end, Anorak won, and I’m very glad it did,” says Gabbert.

And as someone who enjoys a fresh take on an established genre, I am too.

*According to Wikipedia, a character in Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay breaks into the abandoned site of the World’s Fair and has “a significant sexual experience.”


1 Comment on “Michael Chabon E-Books for Open Road Media”

  1. Millie Rossman says:
    Jan 19th, 2012  9:13 am
    Edit

    These covers are great. It's tough to make two sans serifs work well together, and Connie Gabbert pulls it off beautifully.

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