Down The Shore Publishing wins National Design Awards for ‘Local Color’

Down The Shore Publishing has won dual national recognition for the design of its illustrated Long Beach Island history book Local Color: The Photographic History of Long Beach Island Reimagined.

Published last summer, the book won top prizes in two categories – gold in Cover Design-Nonfiction and silver in Interior Design – at the 34th annual Benjamin Franklin Book Awards held this spring in Orlando, Florida.

The unique concept and purpose of the illustrated book, according to publisher Ray Fisk, was “to breathe new life into old black-and-white images, to draw readers into our story organically, as if they had entered an exhibition. So the design had to be inviting.

Local color features historic photographs of Island activities and landmarks, carefully hand-colored over several years by designer Leslee Ganss. The featured images are combined with text in a clean layout: a single image and a small historical thumbnail on the facing pages, in a gallery format.

“For context, we’ve added brief local accounts of some of the books we’ve published over the years, written or edited by others,” Fisk explained. “One goal was to synthesize all of this wonderful material, honor history, and bring new visibility and discovery to our shared stories. The concept of exhibiting in a book worked perfectly (to combine) art and the story.

Ganss said she finds great satisfaction in bringing the past to life with color.

“I wonder how many people have looked so closely at the details of each image, thinking about the story. I had to ask, ‘What were the colors of Beach Haven’s lifeguards at the start? The Irish housekeepers of ‘Engleside did they have red hair? Figuring out the colors on the clothes of the muscle guys from Crest Fishery…

“I found myself living in these historic photos, and I think that’s why it’s become a labor of love for over two years.”

The competition is organized by the non-profit Association of Independent Book Publishers, based in Manhattan Beach, Calif., to recognize excellence in book publishing. The 2022 competition reviewed 1,894 entries, judged over seven months by more than 170 librarians, booksellers and design/editorial experts with decades of experience in the book industry.

Fisk pointed out that the awards are given through really fresh, objective eyes, because few of the judges were familiar with the Jersey Shore, let alone Long Beach Island.

The contest anonymously shares reviews of judging forms with editors, he said. A judge in the Cover Design category congratulated Local color for “great cover design.” It’s clean, well-designed, has an amazing main image, and features the necessary information (title, subtitle, author) without diminishing the appeal of the image at all. Fantastic.”

In the Interior Design category, a judge called it “top choice for many reasons”, including the cover, the quality of the photos, both colorful and humorous, the balance of white spaces, the effect overall being gorgeous and alluring. The colorization process adds a “subtle beauty and interest” that makes it “much more special” than other photography collections.

“This book will be picked up by photographers and artists, not just those with a personal interest in the region.”

Last year, New Jersey Monthly The magazine described the book as “striking and memorable”, referring to Norman Rockwell.

Down The Shore Publishing has already won the biggest national awards – in recent years for Surviving Sandy: Long Beach Island and the Jersey Shore’s Biggest Storm (in 2014); art book Jersey Shore Impressionists (2014); and Great Storms of the Jersey Shore, 2nd Expanded Edition (2020).

“We’re thrilled that as an independent, rambling publisher, our work is being honored on a national ground,” Fisk said. “And in this book, the honor is shared with all the authors and Long Beach Islanders whose stories and words we celebrate in Local color.”

IBPA chief executive Angela Bole noted that the book publishing industry must “support and nurture these independent publishers if we are truly to foster a diversity of voices and opinions in the content we read. “.

Local Color: The Photographic History of Long Beach Island Reimagined is available at most LBI-area gift shops and other booksellers. The book is also available online at Amazon, directly from the publisher at, and in New Jersey at Barnes & Noble or stores. —VF

Previous Ajax resident, former 'Napalm Girl', turns haunting Vietnam War photo into symbol of humanitarian aid
Next NJ India Day Parade organizers under fire for anti-Muslim symbol