May 4, 2010

Three more days

Posted in e-books, education, Reading, Software, technology, typography at 7:13 am by India

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Thesis Book 2010

This Thursday at 12:40 p.m., I have to publicly present some sort of something about my vague and fugitive master’s thesis. The talk—about ten minutes’ worth—will be streamed online so you, my friends, can all point and laugh, and the video will be archived somewhere (hopefully somewhere dark and offline) after the event.

Oy vey.

In the meantime, I’m trying to figure out what the hell to say and show, and I’ve had to write a short description of my work for a (printed!!) book of my class’s thesis projects—a book that was, of course, laid out by me, who obviously had nothing better to do with my time. The following is the lofty prose I came up with, sometime between birds-tweeting-time and sunrise this morning:
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April 1, 2010

Hyphenation in Stanza

Posted in books, Design, e-books, Software, technology, Typesetting, typography at 8:09 pm by India

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Stanza.app: Bad break (detail)
Okay! I’ve got basically one month left in which to do my thesis project, so I’m thinking I should try to blog about a little something every day, to force myself to process some of this stuff. Perhaps call it BroTheBloPoMo—Brooklyn Thesis Blog Post Month.
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February 12, 2010

E-book Abomination Index

Posted in books, e-books, production, Rants, technology, typography at 4:40 am by India

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I’ve been reading a lot of e-books in the past ten days or so, and I have seen a lot of messy formatting. But the latest one takes the cake: a McGraw-Hill Professional book in which the first letter of every paragraph appears on a line by itself. Thus:

T
he quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Hella annoying. And there was an egregious typo in the book, repeated three times in one paragraph. Annoying enough that I dug around on the McGraw-Hill site until I found a place to lodge my complaint.

But then I got to thinking, as I filled out their lengthy incident report form, that if I want to report every fucked-up e-book I come across—which is most of them—I could spend the rest of my life chasing around on publishers’ websites for the buried feedback addresses or forms. And then I thought, Why not set up a sort of Hall of Shame where not only I but anyone else who finds a crappy e-book can post the gory details?

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the E-book Abomination Index submission form?
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September 4, 2009

To be fond of ; to like ; to have good will toward ; to delight in, with preëminent affection.

Posted in art, bookbinding, books, coveting, illustration, Inspiration, letterpress, printing, production, Typesetting, typography, Video at 1:14 pm by India

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Love.

Chronicle Books had only a dummy of the trade edition at BEA, but the book is out now. (Buy it through Indiebound.)
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July 6, 2009

Please, Mister Postman

Posted in advice, humor, Rants, typography at 2:26 pm by India

post office

Oh, I think I need to make a field trip to the 11215 post office . . .

Dear Postmaster Potter:

I am writing to ask if you would please consider redecorating my local post office. Maybe you have heard of it: 11215. It’s the Park Slope Station in Brooklyn, New York, and I believe that a great many novelists spend time there, waiting to mail their manuscripts and galleys and quarterly estimated tax payments and whatnot, so perhaps it is the source of a great many written complaints. Or perhaps not. Anyway, may I elaborate on the nature of the problem?

The nature of the problem is choice of font.

Rudolph Delson, “An Open Letter to John E. Potter, Postmaster General” (PDF, 127 KB), February 12, 2007

Oh, but that is not the only problem, as it turns out. And these issues have been observed not only at the 11215 post office, as I’m sure many can attest. I particularly recommend the 10009 (Tompkins Square) location for psychotic signage (not to mention patrons).

I think I also need to get a copy of Mr. Delson’s novel, Maynard and Jennica.

(Via Manhattan Users Guide)

June 10, 2009

“artistic standard designs, fit for a palace”

Posted in books, Design, Typesetting, typography at 4:49 pm by India

Greybean Ulysses page spreads

Jonathan McNicol clearly does not have enough to do. To stay out of trouble, he’s started typesetting a free Greybean edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, pages of which he expects to be posting daily until some time in October.

This kind of fits in with something Margaret, Shelby, and I were talking about doing last year. Maybe we should get off our butts and do that . . .

Font Consultant to the Stars Star Trek

Posted in typography at 4:22 pm by India

Enterprise by House Industries

My former colleague Lawrence Levi, of Looker and The Breadline, reports that “the new Star Trek movie‘s final credit . . . is for FONT CONSULTANT. Yup. He’s Richard Massey, . . . who was part of the initial design team of Cabinet magazine.” Lawrence then directs our attention to “an outraged design blogger, the only person who seems to have noticed this quirky credit”: Blogging via Typewriter.

I know nothing whatsoever about the man, but it’s funny if it’s true.

March 26, 2009

Big Is Beautiful

Posted in Accessibility, advice, books, Design, indexing, Typesetting, typography at 11:11 pm by India

la-rge-type

I like getting to play Dear Abby! Though lately my responses read less like sage advice and more like columns by The Non-Expert—only not funny. Yesterday Sarah wrote with some questions:

Since 2002, I have been editor for our local historical society’s 20-page quarterly. When I first started, I did it in an old version of WordPerfect and (you’ll laugh) actually cut and pasted together the booklet and took it to our local printer.

Then I got slightly more high tech and started producing PDFs from the WordPerfect files.

The next thing was a switch to the Atlantis program, which produces .rtf files, from which I made PDFs to send to our local printer.

So, I still have all the old .wpd and .rtf files.

The historical society is now interested in taking the old issues, indexing them, and publishing the old issues in books (putting several together per volume) or perhaps just putting the old issues online.

However, there is not much of a budget for new software. The new software would need to do indexing and be able to handle endnotes and read the old files.

I am looking at Serif Page Plus and SoftMaker’s TextMaker. Have you heard anything pro or con or about these programs?

As a side issue — I am also looking into producing Large Print versions of documents. It seems that there are all sorts of standards that different organizations have for producing large print books. Do you have any advice for what standard to use, and how to handle graphics for large print books (obviously the graphics need to be bigger, but I don’t know how much).

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February 9, 2009

Pinch on pages

Posted in books, Design, typography at 1:12 am by India

Hawthorne page spreads

Pinch, a design office in Portland, Oregon, have* shared a summary of their typographic standards for Hawthorne Books, a literary press also in Portland. And while I very much like the house design they’ve come up with, I have a few quibbles with their write-up of same.

Pages are expensive, and here is where working with smaller press runs is helpful. Random House, for example, would have a big problem with running this little content on a two-page spread, because they are budgeting their books to the fraction of a penny—a meaningful amount when you’re printing a half-million copies. At 5,000 copies? Not so much, and frankly, this material—dedication, acknowledgements, epigrams—is important to the writer. To isolate it, to give it the weight it deserves, is again a function of respect to both writer and reader.

Now, I’ve never worked for Random House, but we had some pretty big print runs on some of the things I worked on at St. Martin’s. And I can tell you that the default front-matter pagination was just as airy and light as what’s shown in the Hawthorne spreads. Read the rest of this entry »

January 30, 2009

How to pick better fonts

Posted in advice, books, business, Design, Reading, typography at 4:29 pm by India

golden section tattoo

How do you pick your fonts? It’s easy! Just look at type samples and find one that catches your eye. Throw that one out.

All this month, Tom Christensen of the always interesting Right Reading has been guest-blogging over at ForeWord magazine. For his final post, he offers “a simplified speed course in making books that readers will want to pick up”: “Book Design Primer.”

It’s very basic, as advertised, but he mentions a way of using the golden section that I’d never considered, so you, too, may learn something.
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