By Erin L. Cox | @ErinLCox
Designed by Riverhead’s award-winning Art Director Helen Yentus, the colophon “embodies what makes a Riverhead book always one to pay attention to: wide-ranging stories from around the globe that are unexpected, bold, and unforgettable.”
Yentus noted that she has been working on this project since she started at Riverhead six years ago, although then it was “self-initiated.” Over the course of the last six years, Yentus officially presented colophon ideas to Riverhead President and Publisher Geoff Kloske two or three times, but only now has the timing been right: “I can honestly say that everything I’ve worked on before was not as strong and appropriate [as this design]. I do believe that being immersed in the Riverhead culture for as long as I have really helped me figure it out finally.”
Founded in 1994, Riverhead, an imprint of Penguin Random House, has had great success in the last year with the hugely popular bestselling books The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, and Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein, as well as new books by Jon Ronson, Sarah Vowell, and Claire Vaye Watkins.
On why Riverhead decided this was the moment to change colophons, Kloske said, “The world changes, so it makes sense that brands reassert themselves at various points in their lives.
“We think about the digital and physical experience of our brand mark. But most important is to stay faithful to the imprint’s spirit. Here, the sense of emergence, which in potamological terms”—the study of rivers—”is what a riverhead is all about.”
Although the design may have gone through countless iterations throughout the last six years, Yentus always had a sense for how she wanted to reflect Riverhead’s brand. “I wanted something strong and contemporary,” she said, “that would have impact both in print and online. But my ideal is always to design something timeless.
It’s important to think formally, possibly even conceptually, about what you want to communicate, rather than attempting to remain on trend or in style. If you try to fit in to what’s popular, you will wind up with something that feels very dated very quickly.”
Yentus noted that the whole team had taken the colophon and done interesting things with it, examples of which they’ll be rolling out on their social media channels throughout the week.
One member of the Riverhead team, Associate Director of Publicity Katie Freeman, was even inspired to get the colophon tattooed on her ankle. “I love the creativity, collaboration, and passionate commitment that Riverhead represents: to every book, our authors, and our colleagues.
“I wanted to celebrate that vision and dedication, and to honor Helen Yentus’ strong & beautiful design,” said Freeman.