The Making of a Book Cover

For the past few months, Convoy has been working on a very cool book design project. All the Way to #1 is a survey of the greatest high school football teams of the twentieth century, bursting with newspaper and year book photos dating back as far as 1903.

Art Director Matt Thomas wowed the clients with beautiful, flexible interior designs that could accommodate hundreds of photos without overshadowing the book’s narrative. But once the interior designs were completed, it was time for the real challenge: the book’s cover.

Cover Concerns

We had a number of points to keep in mind when designing the cover.

  1. The cover needed to clearly communicate “FOOTBALL!” After all, the title–All the Way to #1–could refer to football, baseball, curling, or even no sport at all. It was clear that we needed some strong football imagery to bring a likely reader closer.
  2. We had a lot of fantastic vintage photos to choose from, but could a book profiling eighteen separate football teams from across the country and spanning a century of sports history really be represented by a single photograph?
  3. If we were to collage the images in a way that gave more equal representation to the book’s subjects, would readers still be able to recognize it as a football book from afar?

It was decided: we needed not just game shots, but a prominent game ball, too.


The Football

Early in the brainstorming stage, we’d hit on a stock photo we liked of an old, leather football on a black backdrop, lit from above, its edges bleeding into the darkness. It was a striking photo, and in combination with some good typography, we could see it working.

Unfortunately, by the time we decided to buy the photograph, we found that the photographer had removed it and left no means of contact. No search of iStock, Getty Images, or Shutterstock turned up a photo that met our criteria for an alternative. So after an hour of searching, we turned to a different solution: given the cost of stock photography, it seemed likely that with our available budget, we could simply buy a vintage football and photograph it ourselves.

One eBay visit later, and we had a football on its way, direct to our office from 1942. Armed with a camera, some recycled cardboard, and a few sheets of black poster board from the CVS down the block, Convoy intern Bobby set about taking a new cover photo. In our supply closet.

Pictured: Intern Bobby and the supply closet.

Bobby did a fantastic job (we like his version better than the original!), and with his photo in hand, we were able to design a cover that addressed all of our original concerns: the bold type and the image of the football draw the reader in from across the room, and the collage of player images in the background adds visual depth and hints at the book’s historical focus while preserving the mystery of the book’s central question: who was the greatest high school football team of the twentieth century?


Well, we won’t spoil it for you! You’ll have to read it for yourself to find out. All the Way to #1 is available for purchase here. Early Christmas shopping, anyone?