Behind the Scenes: UTP Catalogue Process

Everyone at UTP was delighted to share with you the recent launch of our Fall/Winter 2020 Catalogue. In this post, we reached out to Breanna Muir, our Product Marketing Specialist who oversees the process, and we asked her to take us behind the scenes into the catalogue process at UTP.

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It’s always a new calendar season in book publishing, and here at the University of Toronto Press, we’re already looking ahead to a new list of books for the 2021 year! As the Product Marketing Specialist, I’m always eager to hear about the upcoming books from our Acquiring Editors in the humanities and social sciences, which often highlight issues of global relevancy.

At the press, I work on the seasonal catalogues, and this entails meeting crucial deadlines from every department: editorial, marketing, and production. Although the catalogue process can often feel like a juggling act, balancing various moving parts from copy writing to capturing ever-changing publication dates, specs, and prices, it also involves a lot of creativity and design research, particularly when brainstorming the concepts for the catalogue covers.

Beginning at the early stages of the catalogue process, I meet with Sebastian Frye, our in-house graphic designer. In past seasons, the visual direction of the catalogue has been influenced by everything from the UTP book list to current trends, pantone swatches, artists like Andy Warhol, and even album covers with interesting visuals.

At UTP, the year 2020 brought the signing of Solved, Lead for the Planet, The Story of CO2, Accidental Wilderness, and Carbon Province, Hydro Province. All of these titles encourage discussion on topics such as globalization, sustainability, and our role in protecting the natural environment. In building a cover theme around these major titles, Sebastian and I poured through images of vintage postcards and old photographs of botanical gardens for aesthetic inspiration and a desired colour palette. We eventually landed on an image of a rose-hued magnolia blossom for the Spring/Summer cover, and winterberries for Fall/Winter. We wanted to use the 2020 catalogue covers to represent the quiet beauty found in every corner of the planet, one that is ultimately at risk during our current climate crisis. In 2020, we also used the covers of our seven subject catalogues to explore this same theme.

Today, as we meet over Zoom to discuss the catalogue covers for the upcoming 2021 year, a year that will be brimming with so much change in the post-COVID environment, we have to ask ourselves: have our perspectives shifted from one direction, and into another, during this period of isolation and transition? Has the pandemic ushered in a new set of values? And how can we channel this new normal, aesthetically?

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Click here to discover more about our catalogues.