May 29, 2008

The Recipe for Success

Posted in books, Design, production, Typesetting, typography at 1:49 pm by India

Book Cake

Following up on the popularity of her copyediting report, Rose Levy Beranbaum has posted another interesting entry about the production of her forthcoming cookbook: Book Production Phase 7 Pre Design Meeting.

The designer’s estimate had the text running forty-two pages over the initial castoff, so there was a lot of discussion about how to make it fit. She’s posted her notes from the meeting, which give a you an idea of the complexity of cookbook design. Read the rest of this entry »

April 20, 2008

Well, nobody can accuse book designers of price fixing.

Posted in books, business, Design, Typesetting, Work at 6:35 pm by India

revised price list

Tom Christensen did an informal survey of four book designers to find out how much they’d charge for a hypothetical job.

I was trying to determine a reasonable price for a 320-page hardcover collected poems, interior and cover/jacket design. . . .

According to the 2001 edition of the Graphic Artists Guild handbook of Pricing and Ethics, for an average poetry book a designer might charge $7,500 to $15,000 to design and set the interior plus $1000–$2000 for the jacket. That gives a total range of $8500–17,000. Those figures are seven years old, but several people say the prices in this publication skew high.

Yes, in my experience, they do.

The results? Each different, like a snowflake: $3,100, $8,000, $8,800, and $12,800. See Tom’s post for each designer’s breakdown of charges: rightreading: Book design fees.

Photo: price list by Nick Sherman; some rights reserved.

February 5, 2008

Books on the why/how of book interior design?

Posted in advice, books, Design, Lazyweb, Typesetting, typography at 8:27 pm by India

Woman consulting a book

Commenter “elle” is trying to find a book that’s “kind of like a manual on how to design interiors.”

Like why you use a space break, why you indent certain amounts, why chapters start new right and things that break down the skeleton of a book. It’s something that is never really taught and you kind of do these things without a reason why, its simply because “you just do.” Do you know why a part opener always starts new right backed blank? I don’t. I just know it does.

Why do we have double breaks? Why does the text start flush left afterwards?

Anyone? Anyone? The usual books I recommend are The Elements of Typographic Style and The Complete Manual of Typography, but neither of these goes into the reasons behind design conventions, as far as I can recall.


Photo: Girl inspector confers with a worker as she makes a a careful check of center wings for C-47 transport planes, Douglas Aircraft Company, Long Beach, Calif. Photographed by Alfred T. Palmer. From the Library of Congress’s Flickr project. No known copyright restrictions.

January 19, 2008

How stylish are you?

Posted in Editing, Typesetting at 6:35 pm by India


India, Ink., has moved. The live version of this post is now located at Sorry for the inconvenience!

Woman applying lipstick

How do you name your style sheets, those of you who bother to use them at all? Below are some of the most common style names I use for book work, which are cribbed from various sources. I use these same abbreviations to key manuscripts on those rare occasions when I’m copyediting text for someone else to typeset.

Warning: This is supernerdy. Do not click “more” unless you are prepared to be bored out of your skull.
Read the rest of this entry »

December 8, 2007

Yap, yap, yap

Posted in advice, community, production, Reading, Typesetting at 5:57 am by India

Operator by Jeremy Brooks, at Flickr

John Oliver Coffey dropped me an e-mail the other morning about a new discussion forum for typesetters, aptly called . . . Typesetter Forum. It’s

a new (and free) forum for questions, answers and opinions related to the publishing industry with particular emphasis on typesetting.

Its not exactly a free-for-all (will be lightly moderated) and is oriented towards collaboration . . . and solving common typesetting challenges whether in applications or techniques. We will also post jobs, contracts, news and resources for everyone interested in the industry.

So, of course, because I was supposed to be getting ready for work, I decided to check the site out instead. Read the rest of this entry »

October 22, 2007

A love letter to letterpress

Posted in letterpress, printing, Typesetting, typography at 8:22 pm by India


Ampersand Duck is setting a book of poetry the slow way, and writing very affectionately about it.

You want the type to be invisible in a way, to let the meaning of the words exist independently. If a word is leaping out at you because it’s thick, dull and broken, it’s unfair to the reader. But the warmth of a handprinted page is delightful, ranging from dark greys to a dense black. It’s a small challenge for the spoilt eyes of a modern reader, to whom variety in print quality means the ink heads are a bit clogged, something to be fixed. It is the finite (and rapidly dwindling) number of letters that made me think about the preciousness of words set or written by hand. Poets are, by their nature, careful with words. It is a marvellous experience to get so intimate with a piece of writing. You may think your eyes and your mind caress a word as you read it, but imagine holding that word, piece by piece, and thinking about all its layers and nuances as you ease it into place (albeit upside down and back to front!).

(Sigh.) Sounds like fun.

Photo: proof_1 by Ampersand Duck; some rights reserved.

October 19, 2007

Is an educated author our best customer?

Posted in books, business, Design, production, Typesetting, typography at 12:39 pm by India

unhappy author at work on an earlier stage of the book

At the beginning of this week, I spent part of my lunch hour at the cafeteria (aka Whole Foods) casually consulting with a friend of a friend who’s checking the page proofs for her first book. It’s an anthology of articles about filmmaking, and it’s being brought forth by a reputable publisher of scholarly and professional books. Unfortunately for the author, her publisher is determined to produce the book as cheaply as possible: completely generic and poorly thought-out design, executed by apparently quite error-prone compositors in Hong Kong. She loathes the display type, she doubts the wisdom of the layout, she’s unhappy with the cover, . . . and her publisher has been fighting her at every step, since the moment the contract was signed. All in all, she’s not having a very warm and fuzzy experience as a first-time author.

And I’m torn, because she’s right—the interior design is hideous, and a lot of the layout choices just don’t make sense. For instance, perhaps half of the articles are interviews, and they’ve been indented on both sides, for their entire length. This wastes so much space that the body type in the book as a whole has had to be squeezed down quite small in order to make castoff. The design of the epigraphs and head notes is also ill-considered, and the front matter and display type throughout are extremely homely: too many fonts, too many styles, and utterly random indents throughout.

These are problems that a competent book designer/compositor, such as, oh, me or the designer friend through whom I know this person, could fix in one to two hours. I am dead certain that I could make the whole thing look much more inviting and coherent, while sticking to the desired page count, in less time than it will take the distraught author to mark up every single chapter title to be even small caps instead of caps + hideous fake small caps, as my friend and I cautiously recommended.

At the same time, however, looking wincingly at her stack of proofs, covered with Post-Its and liberally scrawled with deletions and additions, wordy corrections using nonstandard proofreading symbols, and requests for global layout changes, I deeply pity and sympathize with her editor and production crew. Read the rest of this entry »

August 31, 2007

Know Your Competition

Posted in business, Design, outsourcing, Typesetting at 12:58 pm by India

street arm wrestling

I was going to delete this spam comment (which I’ve received twice now) without remark—

Author: Francisco Quia-ot


Hire our employee for only $590/month (6 days/week/8:00 am – 5:00 pm).

Welcome at

Having an appealing and eye catching book cover design and a book interior design that is consistent with the cover will really make a difference in the success and marketability of your book. We look forward to hearing from you and creating a beautiful book cover and/or interior for you.

Please email( for more details.

—but then I thought, Wait, maybe this company actually exists.
Read the rest of this entry »

August 14, 2007

Cheap Paperbacks

Posted in books, Typesetting, typography at 3:29 pm by India

useful paperbacks

Today is your last day to buy Dino dos Santos’s typefaces at 50 percent off, but you have an entire month to scoop up goodies from House Industries at a discount.

Sale items include Neutraface, which I’ve had to work with several times and been annoyed by (something about unthoughtful OpenType setup—two jobs ago; I’ve forgotten now), but which some people like the look of, and Chalet, which I remember there being a lot of buzz about when it came out.

What I’m most interested in, though, is Paperback by John Downer (whose TypeCon presentation was one of the ones that made me cringe painfully; but I’m sure he’s very good at designing type). I first read about this when I was designing a lot of swill, and it sounded to me like a useful typeface to have.
Read the rest of this entry »

July 12, 2007

Four Questions for Book Designers

Posted in books, Design, Typesetting, typography at 7:05 pm by India

Question Mark

If you’re a book designer or merely wish to play one on TV, Stephen Tiano’s got a few things to ask you. Interesting questions, interesting answers.

Photo: Questioning by Ann Douglas; some rights reserved.

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