Rich Hendel, Book Designer

Rich HendelWhen an author is choosing a publisher they consider a number of factors. What is the reputation of the Press? Who else has this Press published? How well will they support my book? And, perhaps a final but very important consideration, What will my book look like on the shelf and when I’m reading it?

While I (not surprisingly) feel the UNC Press does a great job on all of these points, it’s the last of these points, along with the man in this photo, that I’d like to tell you a bit more about today.

Yesterday Ellen wrote about the beautiful cover for the new book by Louis A. Pérez Jr, Cuba in the American Imagination. The much-deserved recognition from the The New Yorker Books Department on Rich’s work is just the most recent accolade in a long career of designing books and book covers.

The UNC Press has had a long-standing reputation for producing handsome, well-designed books. That reputation, in large part, is due to the outstanding work Rich Hendel has brought to the Press over his many years as the Press’ Design and Production Manager. Rich takes the time to read through each manuscript he works with, getting a feel for the subject matter and the tone of the writing. Then, with the wonderful eye of a typographic and layout artist, he is able to find a unique way of presenting an author’s work in such a way that the work is enhanced in a subtle, yet elegant way. He takes the author’s work and transforms it into something far more than just pages of words. Rich is the unseen collaborator who makes your manuscript into a book you can be proud of.

Within the University Press world Rich is known as being not only an award-winning book designer but someone who encourages the artistry in other designers. He’s a wonderful teacher who has passed along his standard to the current design staff at the Press.

Rich retired from the UNC Press in December of 2007. Instead of sitting back and writing a book about his profession, he’s actually been busier than ever. Since retiring his calendar has been filled with freelance book designing assignments.

And why didn’t Rich write a book on book design? Because he already has.

(On a personal note: I took the portrait of Rich yesterday while having lunch with him. As good as Rich is as an artist, he’s an even better person to be able to call a friend.)

— Tom