As a class project for Book Design Technology, we had the amazing opportunity to completely re-imagine a favorite book of ours, print it, sew it, and bind it. This was one of my favorite classes that I’ve taken at Cal Poly and I am so grateful that our department allowed us the resources to make this project happen!
I chose to redesign the cult-followed coming-of-age story, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, one of my favorite books that I read as a teenager. Perks follows Charlie, an introverted high school freshman as he navigates between the worlds of adolescence and adulthood, and attempts to put his unconventional style of thinking into writing.
Cleaning up the text
I was able to find a text file of the novel online, however it was filled with misspelled words, incorrect spacing, and formatting errors. After flowing the text through InDesign, I was able to use GREP and Find and Replace capabilities to correct all of the errors. I carefully read over all 405 pages of text to ensure that there were no mistakes.
Building the book
I printed over 30 sixteen-page signatures, then hand-folded and sewed them into the book block. The next steps included glueing the block, choosing the endpapers, building the case, and glueing the block into the case.
Designing the dust jacket
I wanted to tie in the elements of the story to the dust jacket, as well as incorporate the original cover. To me, this book represents nostalgia of teenage years in the 90s, and I wanted to convey that. I purchased old photographs at a thrift store and paired them with scrap papers and some flowers I had been pressing, then collaged them. After scanning them and editing the collage in Photoshop, I added the text in InDesign.
My finished book
This limited edition copy of The Perks of Being a Wallflower was designed, printed, and constructed by Rachel Lackmann in March of 2020. The Book Design Technology course is part of the Graphic Communication department at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.
Adobe Caslon Pro is the typeface used for the body text of the novel. Designed by William Caslon in 1722, Caslon is considered the first original English typeface, and is the standard for typesetters and printers. William Caslon’s skill in ornamental design on metalwork led him to type when he began carving steel for printing. A popular phrase in printing goes, “When in doubt, use Caslon.”
The typeface used for titles, chapter heads, and page numbers is Special Elite, a typewriter font created by Astigmatic One Eye Typographic Institute in 2011. This decorative typeface creates a similar aesthetic to the styling of the more recent editions of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, as well as ties in the plot of the novel to the design. The grunge and old-school analog feel of Special Elite gives it a vintage and nostalgic flare. This book was hand-sewn and bound at the Bylo Bindery at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.