Sunday, June 18, 2006

book update: cover designs FINALIZED

Here's the 72 dpi version of what will be uploaded onto CafePress (at 300 dpi) soon. I don't have the spine design ready, but that has to wait until I've finalized the manuscript and have an exact page count.

So-- here we go.

Front cover:

Back cover:

Good God, it's starting to look like a book.

A comment about design:

You may recall that, in the original front cover design, I had a picture of Dalma Daesa sitting on the right side of the cover. Given the nature of the "Wonhyo-and-skull" brush painting I made, it was necessary to flip that format around. Here's why.

When you're looking at artwork, you may start to notice that every piece has a certain "flow" or "energy" to it-- something the brush artists might call "ki." In the picture above, we see Wonhyo's upthrust arm (I did that purely for drama's sake; I seriously doubt he actually drank that way, because you only drink like that at keg parties), which sends the eye zinging upward to the skull, as it should. So we have a current of ki flowing strongly upward. Note, too, that we've got water flowing down and to the right. The downwardness isn't particularly crucial here, but the rightward movement of the water is what forced me to reverse the design. I think it works well as it is, now.

I tried putting the image over on the right side, but with the text on the left, I ended up with the feeling that the image, which flows generally rightward, was being rudely "ushered off the stage," so to speak, by the text (which also has an implicit rightward flow: we read from left to right in English). That wasn't the feeling I was going for, so I followed my instincts and placed the image where it seemed most natural.

I'm thinking of nicknaming this "the Bruised Cover," because it's mostly black and blue. I chose a fairly dark shade of blue to indicate the serious tone of the subject matter, and I kept the same color scheme for the back cover as well. I hope it's not too funereal.

Those familiar with the Heart Sutra will have noted that I wrote one of my favorite phrases from it on the back cover: jae beop gong sang, or "All phenomena have the character of emptiness." The term beop (pronounced somewhere between "buhp" and "bawp"), which literally means "law," is the Chinese character that represents dharma. Dharma actually has many meanings in Buddhism, and an arguably wider semantic field in Hinduism. In the above phrase, though, most scholars tend either to leave "dharma" untranslated, or they render it in English as "phenomenon(-na)," the meaning most relevant to the sutra.

My brothers will no doubt laugh their asses off at the photo on the back cover, which shows a somewhat thinner (?) Kevin from back around 2001 or 2002, I think. The photo was taken by yours truly while hiking alone from the Taos Ski Valley Ski Resort (about 9,200 feet) up to Williams Lake (about 11,000 feet) in Taos, New Mexico. The air was thin, thin, thin, and I had to stop about every fifty yards. At one point I stopped to take the "vanity" shot, propping the camera on the roots of an enormous fallen tree and using the timer function.

Go on. Laugh.

Anyway, that's the cover design I'm going with. I imagine the spine will be the same shade of dark blue, with white serif text-- perhaps a sans serif for the publisher name; I'm going with "Juasubul," which means "left-handed Buddha," and is the name found on one of my dojang (stamp or chop). The actual covers are slightly larger than what you see here; CafePress recommends making an oversized design in order for the colors to "bleed to the edge" without leaving any annoying white space on the fringes. You add a half inch to each axis, and when the cover is printed, a quarter-inch is cut off all sides so that you end up with color right up to the cover's edge. What you see above is what the actual book covers will look like, post-slicing, at 6.625" x 10.25".

Ah, yes: the EAN bar code you see above shows the actual ISBN I'll be using for my book. I bought a set of ten ISBNs back in 2001, at great expense, so don't even think about ripping that one off and using it for your own purposes. That thang's registered to ME!

And unfortunately, yes, that's the price I'm going for. $21.95. Sorry, folks; would love to make it cheaper, but the book's looking to run over 300 pages, which means CafePress's base charge will be pretty high. If it turns out that my finalized manuscript page count drops to the very low 300s, I might whack a dollar or two off the above. Stay tuned. Keep in mind, though: most of the cover price goes to CafePress, not to yours truly. As I wrote earlier, this book isn't about to make me rich (unless by some miracle it sells in the millions).

Guess what-- while rummaging through masses of paperwork and other crap, I found my scanner CD-ROM. It was all I could do to prevent myself from snapping that little bastard in half when I saw it. Of course, the CD-ROM didn't hide itself away on purpose: an anus-brain named Kevin tossed it aside long ago, and then forgot about it. I sat there on the floor of my apartment, shaking my enormous head in disbelief, marveling at my own stupidity. How could I not have left the CD with my other software CDs? What the hell moved me to separate this one CD from the group and toss it somewhere obscure? We'll never know.

That's it for now. It's a bit after 6AM, and I failed to hit Namsan last night, so I might head on out in a few minutes.



  1. Quick comment, as I need to get ready for church...

    I love the art. The white background against the blue works now that I see it. Not sure about the text, though, to be honest--the "and Other Things that" kind of ruins the flow for me. Or maybe that was what you were going for?

    In other news, I imagine that you remain unaware that the U.S. drew against Italy in today's match. I will say only this: we were robbed, and big time. You may unleash your indignation.

  2. Charles,


    I like the last part of the subtitle because it leads to the pun about "mind" and "matter." The technical question for me was whether to capitalize "Other Things" or not, and I decided-- back when I made the first draft of the cover-- to keep the capitalization, since "other things" is a noun phrase and thus grammatically consistent with other elements in the list such as "interreligious dialogue," itself a noun phrase.

    Could it be that the word "things" is the real problem in terms of flow?

    Example of what I mean:

    "She's quite a woman. She's got intelligence, warmth, charm, and stuff."

    In a list of high-class nouns, you've got the inelegant "stuff" bringing up the rear, which causes a jarring change in the speaker's register-- like jumping suddenly from "jon-dae-mal" to "ban-mal."

    If that is indeed the problem for you, I can kind of see what you're saying, but I think "things" has a better pedigree than "stuff" because it's often found associating with other, higher-register sorts of words.

    So-- I'm going to preserve the mind/matter pun because I like it too much to throw it out, but if you can suggest a smooth replacement for "things" or "other things," I'll consider it.

    How about "issues"? It's a thoroughly overused and misused word, but maybe it grates less than "things."


  3. Actually, I like the sound of the phrase--it has a nice alliteration to it that "stuff" would not have, and "issues" would just completely wreck the rhythm. I was thinking more of the visual flow. Then again, the "mind over matter" pun missed me completely, so now I can see why you did it that way. Still, you have a more or less narrowing column of terms, and then you've got "and Other Things that" sticking out like a, well, like a schlong, I suppose.

    I guess you're not keen on grouping some of the terms together on the same lines, huh? Not that this is a critical point, of course, but it just kind of "stuck out." I just thought I'd mention it, but there's no need to fret if you're happy with it.

  4. Who's that vaguely Russell-Crowe-looking fellow on the back cover?

    Nice divine proportions to the book, by the way.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  5. Jeff,

    Thanks for the comment. I have to apologize about my "misnomer" remark in that earlier post mentioning the Divine Proportion. The way my post is written, it sounds as though I'm accusing you of having misapplied a term, but that's not true. Come to think of it, Divine Proportion is also a misnomer: one synonym for "proportion" is, after all, "ratio."

    Maybe I should change my footnote. Yeah.




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