One hour and eleven minutes of me trying not to swear

The awesome Laura Dawson invited me to do a webinar on the basics of book design, as part of a series for Bowker’s Our kindly hosts/co-presenters at Data Conversion Laboratory have posted a video of the session, so now you can follow along with bated breath as I try to remember not to say “fuck” for more than an hour.1 Can she do it? Watch the video to find out!

Because the video is video and my slides are about fiddly details, I’ve made my segment of the presentation into a PDF, so you can see what I’m talking about: “Making Beautiful Books” webinar slides (2 MB)
Continue reading “One hour and eleven minutes of me trying not to swear”

  1. Yes, my portion of the presentation ran about fifteen minutes too long, because I hadn’t timed it beforehand and couldn’t see my system clock while screen-sharing the slides from PowerPoint. Sorry, Allan. []

E-reading application showdown, part 1: Annotations


About two weeks ago, in a fit of pique, I posted some gripes about my current e-reading application of choice, which is Kobo for the iPhone/iPod Touch. I was pressed for time, so I didn’t provide any context, such as why Kobo’s is my favorite e-reading app, which apps I’ve chosen it over, and whether the things I find awesome and annoying about it are unique to Kobo or are universal across the e-reading–on–iOS world right now.

Here, finally, is the first in a series of posts providing that context. Specifically, I’ll be walking through five of the e-reading applications I’ve used on the iPod Touch, explaining what I see as the pros, cons, and OMFG-what-were-they-thinkings of each.

Continue reading “E-reading application showdown, part 1: Annotations”

Cracking the coding code

Woman in 1940s garb standing in front of a huge machine with lots of rotors

Got an e-mail from a fellow book designer this morning asking, “Do you have a blog post about marking up a MS for the designer/typesetter?” Um, I couldn’t remember; had to search my own blog to find out. I found I’d written two posts in which such issues come into play—

  • May I take your order? (September 30, 2006)—in which I show the sample pages I prepared to instruct a typesetter on a moderately complicated book design
  • How stylish are you? (January 19, 2008)—in which I listed and explained the most common style names I use when marking up or laying out a bookish document

But both of these posts are written from the designer’s desk, whereas my friend was, he later explained, looking for information that might help a fledgling editor (in this case, an editorial intern) understand how to mark up a manuscript. To which I said, “Um, hello, the Chicago Manual?” I know there’s some discussion of markup right there in the front, but I realized I hadn’t consulted that section in the 15th edition in years, and I hadn’t yet checked it in the 16th edition at all. So I looked! And found that there is now a sizable chunk of appendix devoted to markup, with an eye toward producing multiple output formats—print, HTML, e-books, and more. That appendix is heavy going, though, and more theoretical than practical. How might a designer or production editor explain, in, say, under twenty minutes, how a clever intern should mark up a manuscript?

Continue reading “Cracking the coding code”

“you will need to pick an attractive font”


An amazing opportunity! If only I were a cover designer . . .

Book Cover Designer Needed For Regular Work (Anywhere)

Date: 2010-09-13, 9:43AM EDT
Reply to:

We are looking for a book cover designer for regular work. Have 10 book covers that will need to get done immediately.

Note that we will provide the background to use for each cover, you will need to pick an attractive font (some will be provided) as well as colors to match the background, position the titles appropriately and make sure the PDF file meets our formatting requirements.

Thus, no original design other than text and minor boxes here and there will be required.

Will have regular work. Pay is $15 per cover. Will have dozens of them every week. Payment through Paypal.

The following are required:

  1. Ability to work fast and meet deadlines.
  2. Illustrator/Photoshop Skills
  3. Good eye for fonts/colors and the ability/passion for making beautiful covers
  4. Excellent communication skills and availability by Skype email.

If interested please email with:

  2. Resume.
  3. At least two relevant design samples
  4. A paragraph on why you think you’d be a good match for us.

Thank you for your time!

  • Location: Anywhere
  • Compensation: $15 per Cover (Paypal)
  • Principals only. Recruiters, please don’t contact this job poster.
  • Please, no phone calls about this job!
  • Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.

PostingID: 1951195804

(Spotted in new york craigslist > manhattan > jobs > art/media/design jobs by No. 2 Pencil.)

Photo: darts by sethstoll / Seth Stoll; some rights reserved.

The option that wasn’t

Kobo advanced settings

One of the things I like—a unique feature, as far as I’ve seen—about Kobo’s e-reader software for iPhone OS is that it gives you a choice between vertical scrolling and traditional pagination. Because, really, what do pages mean on a digital reader where the text can reflow according to user preferences? Great. So, I selected vertical scrolling.

Problem is, even if you choose this setting, you will still run into page breaks:
Continue reading “The option that wasn’t”

from the Guardian

They’ve been doing a lot of nifty slide shows at the Guardian. Here are four recent ones:

  1. British Library launches online newspaper archive

    We Buy False Teeth

    As you may have guessed, I love this kind of stuff. Unfortunately, the archive website’s not working—at least, for me. I click on links and get nothing but error messages. I’ve written to Gale’s tech support, but I’d be interested to know if the site’s working for other people, especially those in the UK.

  2. Continue reading “from the Guardian”


talk to your kids about indexing

Via e-mail, Lars R. asks, “Would you consider doing a write-up on your blog on the production of indices and how indexing relates to the design process as a whole?”

Some topics I’m interested in include

– The usefulness of InDesign’s indexing feature (as opposed to third party programmes if they exist, or simply manually typing in numbers)
– The practicalities of the designer being involved with the nitty gritty versus any sort of indexing specialist working independently)
– At which stage in the production process indexing begins and ends
– Differences between independent/inhouse publishers and large commercial affairs
– Does the designer generally have any input to level of detail, extent etc, or is it exclusively a case of matter having priority over form? How does the index influence castoff?

Continue reading “Indexigning”

Nextbook’s swank new pad

Tablet Magazine home page, June 9, 2009

My erstwhile coworkers have been toiling their little hearts out for months, rethinking and rebuilding Nextbook’s online magazine, the former The shiny new publication, which launched today, is called Tablet, and it was designed by Prem Krishnamurthy and Rob Giampietro. Tablet‘s Liel Leibovitz has posted a little slideshow in which the designers talk about what they did: Our New Look.

The new site has a WordPress backend (the old one ran on some weird Perl CMS), which the firm Hard Candy Shell set up and filled with all the previous magazine’s content.

Go visit, and tell them what you think of the new digs. If you don’t know what the old site looked like, you can find some screenshots in my Flickr collection.

(I made no contribution to the redesign myself, having [mostly] resigned from my post in January so that I could concentrate on school. The fabulous Abigail Miller, assistant art director, held the fort on her own all spring, while Alana Newhouse, editor in chief, dealt with the designers and developers directly. Nextbook’s new art director, as of about three weeks ago, is the mighty Len Small.)