Recently, Oxide had the honor of not only being selected for inclusion in The Big Book of Packaging, but also having our work highlighted in a four-page case study in the book. Published by Harper Design, the Big Book “showcases the most innovative packaging designs today”¦ by the top visionaries in their field.” Since I’d always wondered how firms got selected for the special features in these kinds of books, I thought others might also be curious about the process.

The Big Book of PackagingThe Big Book of Packaging

First things first

While the book is published by Harper Design (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers), it’s produced by Crescent Hill Books. On a somewhat regular basis, Crescent Hill will put out a call for submissions to upcoming design titles they’re working on. While Oxide doesn’t regularly enter design competitions any more, sending entries is free and can be done entirely online, so we’ll occasionally send in a submission or two if we have a spare moment. About this time a year ago we sent in a few samples of our packaging work, and then forgot all about it.

The Big Book of PackagingThe Big Book of Packaging

In May of 2010, I got an email from Nancy Heinonen, the Publications Director of Crescent Hill. She informed me that not only did our MPower condom wrappers get selected for inclusion, she wanted to call out the work in a case-study. As a beacon of hope to all smaller firms, she noted that they “love to feature small to mid-sized companies as case studies because it brings international attention to them”. I jumped at the chance, even before hearing that of the 1,200 submissions for the book, only 12 would be featured in case studies.

The Big Book of Packaging

Nancy sent over the form letter regarding case studies, and instantly my knowledge of the book publishing world was greatly expanded. There in the letter, between the phrases “congratulations,” “rock star,” “seen around the world” and “most impressed the authors,” was this: “there is a $450 editorial fee”. I’ve encountered some design annuals before that were free to enter, but then required a “hanging fee” or other payment if your work was selected. But I na¯vely thought those days were past, and had never considered a similar scenario in a book as opposed to a periodical.

After some internal deliberation, we decided to pay the fee. We decided that it would be educational to go through the process, the “international exposure” might help with our quest to resurrect the MPower design work, and gaining extra awareness for Oxide couldn’t hurt either. (Oh, and we did get two free copies of the book.)

The Big Book of Packaging

The process

Crescent Hill asked us to send high-resolution, professionally-shot images for the layout. Sending eight or more, they said, could allow us to have a four-page case study instead of just two pages. We complied, and so did they, giving us pages 360-363 in the book. A very nice freelance writer, Lori Patrick, called and talked with me for over an hour about the MPower project. When she completed her write-up, she sent it to us for review. It was indicated that we could make edits as drastic as we felt necessary, but we only ended up fixing a couple of facts that were inaccurate. In July of 2010, Crescent Hill sent us proofing PDFs of our spreads in the book for review. We worked with them to make some different photo suggestions to showcase the packages a little more clearly. They even sent us a final look at the layout to double-check. The process of working with Nancy and Crescent Hill was very enjoyable and hassle-free.

Will the monetary investment be worth it, and would we do it again? At this point, only time will tell. The Big Book of Packaging will be available on 22 Mar 2011. After it launches, we’ll have to see if Oxide or MPower garner any additional notice from anywhere, and if we can track it back to the case study. In the meantime, we’re just proud to have been selected for inclusion in the book in the first place.

View the project page for MPower.