Thursday, November 10, 2011

A cover for the e-'Zephyr'


By George, I think I've got it: a suitable cover for the e-book edition of my 1994 book Zephyr: Tracking a Dream Across America. I'm aiming for early spring 2012 publication, for there's a lot to do.

I found the photograph of Amtrak's latter-day California Zephyr on a keen web site called railpictures.net, where photographers of all skill levels post their favorite shots. This one of a westbound Zephyr in Colorado's majestic Glenwood Canyon is by Scott McClarrinon, who kindly assented to its use for my purposes.

The font used for the title and byline is aptly called Zephyr Gothic, and it is based on the actual font the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy/Denver & Rio Grande Western/Western Pacific railroads used for the train and car name boards on their original stainless-steel Vista-Domed streamliner California Zephyr in 1949. I found the font on another rail-themed site, railfonts.com.

Coming up with a cover design for a nonfiction e-book is decidedly easier than for a mystery novel. Nonfiction lends itself to the use of photograph illustration much more easily than fiction. The designer doesn't have to struggle so much to be creative. (It helps to have a chum who's adept with Photoshop, and Tina Davidson helped me with a vexing problem. She'll also be doing the route maps for the e-book.)

Now that the original book and its photographs (plus some new shots from my archives and others from railpictures.net) have been scanned into my computer, the next task is to track down all those Amtrak crew members I wrote about 20 years ago and re-interview them for a new Epilogue. I've found some, but quite a few are elusive, for there have been deaths and retirements and changes of career.

Onward, as they say.

13 comments:

  1. Delightful pic Henry!

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  2. Couldn't you find one with someone in a raft mooning the train?

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  3. Workin' on it, Jim!

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  4. Steve R. in OntonagonNovember 16, 2011 at 10:21 PM

    Ambitious task scanning your book. Wondering if you ever heard of Rabbi David Steinberg, who worked on the trolley at the Chattanooga Choo-Choo back in the 70s and 80s? A tourist from, say, Chicago, would hop on and be amazed to learn how he could get back home on the rails, complete with train names and departure times from the station.

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  5. Steve R, I dimly remember the Steinberg story. That was SO long ago.

    Made a discovery about that cover design. It won't work for black and white e-book readers. The red fades out and is almost unreadable. When all the text is white it's fine -- but the photo isn't very impressive in black and white.

    As more color Nooks (and now the Kindle Fire) are sold, however, full color art including reds should work. For now, though, I'll have to make the photo full color but the text white. That'll work with both monochrome and color e-book readers.

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  6. For marketing purposes, the potential reader is going to be attracted to the cover as they skim the titles and reviews at Amazon or wherever. Once the book is on the device, I think the text color on the cover art will be less important to the reader.

    Information about Steinberg's collection can be found at tennesseearchivists.org/Spring2006.pdf.

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  7. Steve R, thanks. You're right. The whole purpose of a color cover is for the web site page devoted to the book. The actual in-line cover of the e-book file is quite secondary. In fact, Kindle files open on page one of the text, not on the cover or preliminary matter.

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  8. Jim Loomis, a rail forum acquaintance contributed several shots of Colorado River rafters mooning the Zephyr. Yay! One of them includes a young woman flashing her attributes, but it's a little too fuzzy to use, I'm afraid.

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  9. More on eBook covers from another author's perspective:

    http://countingheads.blogspot.com/2011/10/new-book-cover.html

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  10. Thanks, Steve. That was a meaty meditation.

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  11. The Zephyr book was the first of yours I read. Still have a copy somewhere. Got to ride the Zephyr in November 2004. Will be getting a Nook Simple Touch next month. And thanks for the BeB site. I'll browse it before I get my Nook!

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