Our first hard copies of the The Constitution: An Introduction arrived last week in Minneapolis and Mountain View! It was very exciting to hold the finished product for the first time and see what we (and the excellent folks at Basic Books) had made. At first I was almost afraid to look inside—after going through so many rounds of editing, I know pretty well what should be there, and I’d feel bad if I found a mistake after it was too late to fix. (Don’t worry, everything seems to be fine so far!) But the outside of the book was new to me, and that was the part that really made me happy.
The first thing I noticed was the size and weight. We’ve been working hard to keep the length down, and at just a bit over 300 pages the hardcover feels unexpectedly light and compact. (A quick glance inside showed me that in part we have the typesetting and page design to thank for this.) From there I moved on to the ‘blurbs’ on the back—which are everything we could have hoped for—and the material on the front and back flaps. The summary and the quick bios turned out nicely, and the author photos somehow managed to make us look okay.
And then there was the front cover. We’ve had a digital version of it for a while now, and thanks to my mom’s image wizardry we even had an idea of what it would look like wrapped around the book in 3D. But I didn’t realize how much I liked it until I actually held it in my hands. It stands out among other book covers just because it is so clear, concise, and straightforward. It’s simple but not simplistic, complete but not crowded, balanced but not bland. In other words, it’s doing the same things that we have tried to do with the book itself. They say not to judge a book by its cover, but in this case I’d be glad to.
The most gratifying thing about the hard copy, though, was the fact that we had it at all. We’ve been working on The Constitution for almost ten years, and we spent several of those years trying to find a publisher. Now it’s finally here—the thing we’ve been working on, in its completed form. I can’t help thinking of a passage from one of my favorite novels, The Promise by Chaim Potok. The narrator is a young student who has been helping his father, a professor, to research and revise a book that sums up decades of his scholarship. He watches as his father reacts to a copy of the finished book that arrives in the mail:
“So much work,” he murmured. “So much work in these pages.” … He put the book down and sat behind his desk. “A book,” he murmured. “It is only a book. But what it means to write a book.”
What it means, indeed. Congratulations, Dad. We did it.