Pope Francis has a great smile. His preternaturally straight teeth and crinkly-happy eyes are prominently featured on the cover of the U.S. edition of his first book of writings, The Church of Mercy, which came out on Easter Sunday. Apparently, this was intentional. "His smiling face on the cover displays beautifully one of the major attributes he keeps talking about, which is joy," said Steve Connor, the director of new product development at Loyola Press. The small, Jesuit organization won the rights to print the book over several major publishing houses, he said, but that didn't necessarily change how the book was packaged.
"One of the things we agreed to in getting the bid is that we wouldn’t change any of the language in book," he said. The collection, originally put together by the Italian professor Giuliano Vigini, was sanctioned by the Vatican, so the English-language version had to stay pretty much the same as the original text. "You don’t really have a lot of wiggle room to change what the book is about. How a major press would have done it is not much different than how we did it."
The one thing Loyola did have control over, though, was branding: How do you sell a book of theological reflections to a mass-market audience? Make it pretty, for starters. "We wanted a beautiful cover, making it attractive for a U.S. audience to read," Connor said. The look of the book was one of the only things the press could control, which makes each design decision seem more significant: the subtle patterns that look like they were modeled after couch upholstery, the round, friendly font, the palette of sepia tones. These were all thought out—as Connor said, "the muted colors give a sense of seriousness to the book."