Amazon Look Books
Taking a closer look at Amazon ‘Look Books’
When we say Chalkbox works with a wide variety of clients, we really mean it. In addition to creating designs for small and mid-sized businesses in all kinds of industries, we frequently work with the largest company in the world (by some measures, anyway).
Chalkbox works with Amazon on a regular basis, usually through connections Josh still has from his time as a designer at the company. And for more than 10 years, we have helped one of the company’s teams host annual product preview events for summer and the holidays. Part of this work involves designing and producing “look books” that both announce and showcase featured products.
Changing themes—and high expectations
Each preview event has a different visual theme; after receiving the design proposal, we develop a distinct graphic “language,” working closely with the Amazon team to ensure the book we create aligns with the concept. The production quality of these events is extremely high, and it’s important for the books to meet that bar.
As anyone who has ever visited Amazon’s website will understand, the company has high expectations when it comes to overall design—the platform is easy to use, intuitive, and carefully considered. Every book we create must look at home next to other Amazon materials, too.
Sketches and ‘Tetris’
We sketch extensively for the Amazon preview books, just as we do for most of our other projects. The cover often features illustrated elements, and interior spreads have begun to utilize them regularly as well. But these sketches are also meant to help determine the overall direction of the book; we go through them with the team, narrowing our concepts until we land on the one that best fits with that event’s theme.
One challenge unique to this project is the sheer number of elements that are included in each book—figuring out how to organize all of the products that are needed on every page, while also designing attractive, intuitive spreads, sometimes feels like a game of “layout Tetris.”
Fresh and interesting, every time
Doing the same project 20 times would eventually get stale, but because each of these events (and books) has its own personality, this project always feels different and fresh. Over the years the creative direction has varied widely, from energetic and colorful to reserved and elegant. We have designed books with vibrant tropical illustrations, playful patterns of illustrated sleds and cocoa mugs, refined foil stamps, and more.
Some things remain consistent from book to book, such as the system we use for the inside pages—it’s organized, easily readable, and allows us to feature many products on a single spread without crowding. We’re glad we don’t need to reinvent that wheel every time, but we are quite happy to have the opportunity to create new books each year. We think Amazon must be happy, too, since we’re now entering our second decade of this ongoing project. Those are the kind of long-term client relationships we love.
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