John McWade

John McWade is the founder and creative director of Before & After. For those of you who are new to all this, John in 1985 was the first desktop publisher in the world, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that began as the original beta test site for Aldus PageMaker and continues to this day. For more on that story you'll need to read Issue 1, which is in its third printing.


Design Talk arose from side conversations with readers.


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Design a boring book!

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Can you put your audience to sleep?

We'd like you to try.

Design the cover of a book that you'd keep near your bed to read and fall asleep. Bland. Benign. Unengaging. Your assignment is to not arouse the reader in any way. No thought-provoking titles, no glorious colors, no gripping images, no edgy layouts. The opposite, in fact.

Can you do it?

Your cover will require:
1) A title. Subtitle is optional.
2) Photo or illustration
3) "Author's" name

Size is not important. We're using 5" x 7", so you may as well stick with that.

You’ll have to deal with five elements: type, color, image, layout—plus what the words actually say. Your cover must include every element.

There’s a tongue-in-cheek quality to this, so have fun with it (which does not mean make it funny, because that would be arousing). Here's an example to get you started:

Send us your cover. We’d LOVE to see what you come up with.

[Posted at 5:00 pm on October 3, 2008 by John]

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