Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Behind the Books, with Book Designer Laura Boyle

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Laura Boyle

When we think of the people behind the books we love, we generally think of writers. But many people work in a variety of professions to get those books onto your shelves. In our Behind The Books series, Open Book speaks with the printers, publicists, book sellers, book bloggers, event programmers and many others who work in the publishing industry. Today we speak with Laura Boyle, a Book Designer with Dundurn Press. Laura tells us about a typical workday, her childhood aspirations and why she's proud to work at Dundurn, a Canadian-owned publishing house that is "thriving, adapting and ultimately keeping the sharks at bay."

Open Book:

How long have you been at your current job?

Laura Boyle:

I’ve been with Dundurn for over two years now, but I only recently began working in my role as Book Designer. Up until two weeks ago, I was the Marketing Designer. I had been helping the design team with covers and the occasional interior when my schedule would allow it, and I really loved the experience. So when the position became available in design, I decided to jump on it!


What does an average work day look like for you?


I usually ride my bike to work, which I find a perfect way to start the day. On the ride I think about the day ahead and map out a strategy to get everything done. Dundurn is a prolific enterprise and there are usually several deadlines to juggle. A typical day would include hunting for the perfect image online and drafting several versions of a cover, typesetting a book or applying corrections to a proof, and perhaps sorting through and checking the quality of images for layout. And, let’s not forget, several trips to the kitchen for snacks.


What's the best thing about your job?


The best part of my job is getting to be creative all day every day, and getting to exist in a world where books really are the crux of the universe.


Tell us about a memorable work experience.


A few months ago, my fellow employees and I were called into the boardroom, where several bottles of champagne were waiting to be served. There was an electric buzz in the air, and I had no idea what was going to be announced. The anticipation was killing me so it was a great relief when Kirk Howard, Dundurn’s president, finally spilled the beans: Dundurn had acquired Thomas Allen Publishers! Publishing is said to be a volatile industry, and by all appearances it’s quickly being monopolized by a few multinationals. I’m proud to work for a Canadian company that is thriving, adapting and ultimately keeping the sharks at bay.


When you were a kid, what was your dream job?


Amidst the many fleeting aspirations (cook! caveman! philatelist!), books (the writing of, the selling of, the production of) were a constant. When I was seven years old, I started working at a bookstore on Saturdays, in exchange for — what else — books. I started a poetry club with three of my friends but I soon became the sole member and thus the sole contributor to our anthology. My next-door neighbour was Goose Lane Editions publisher Suzanne Alexander, and I deeply admired her. And despite my father’s suspicions, “going to the library” was never a euphemism for me; I went there every day. So I guess this was/is my dream job. Yay!

Vist the Open Book Archives for more Behind The Books interviews.

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