I admit it; I’m a font geek. Been in the closet for a long time, but I’ve been admiring great font choice, spacing, art placement and book design in general for at least as long as I’ve been editing, proofreading, and indexing books.
I’ve been studying great book design, following great designers (Stephen Tiano being top of my list), and more recently, studying the book-making process as described in the Chicago Manual of Style.
My tool, which I am also in the midst of learning, is InDesign. This tool, like other software tools in the Adobe design universe, is not for the faint of heart or to be taken lightly for a spin. Complexity and numerous tools are there to be used with a background knowledge in the principles of design. One can make a very amateur, text-crowded, clunky-looking book with InDesign, or a beautiful and easy-on-the-eyes reading experience.
As Stephen says, the first rule is to adopt professional design principles, then use the tool to apply them consistently and efficiently. So, I learned the principles first and then customized the tool to express those principles.
So far, the principles I’ve learned include the use of professional fonts as well as customizing the font to the style, content, and size of the book in question. Spacing seems to be the primary philosophical point in book design. Balance between text and white space determines ease of reading. Want to get really “sucked in” to a book? Part of that experience will be dictated by the spacing used in the book’s design.
The last bit that can take quite a bit of the designer’s time and talent is the placement of illustrations (usually called “art” in the trade, I’ve noticed). This art can include text-based tables and figures as well as full-color photographs or other visual art. I’ve definitely noticed when art has been well placed or not well placed based on how the subjects in the text flow around it. There have definitely been times when I scratched my head because a photo or table was placed too far away from the text that discussed it, or worse in a lot of ways, small blocks of text were squeezed onto the same page as a piece of art, thus totally breaking up the flow of the narrative.
I’ve taken on two very different book design projects over the past year and both are now completed. You can get an idea of what I’m up to with this new skill set in my portfolio.
If you’d like an idea of what I charge for these services, head over to my Value page.
If you’d like a quote for your particular project, just contact me.