what does a book designer do, anyway?

Of all the jobs I’ve done over the years, I thought telling people I was a book designer was pretty straightforward, like saying I was a cab driver or a hair stylist. Everybody would know what that was. Turns out that’s not the case. Some people say: Oh, you design the book cover. Sometimes, I [...]

reading a book like a designer – part 2

This is an update of a post from 08 October 2009. In part 1 of this post, I used Twyla Tharp’s book The Creative Habit as a model for looking at a book through designer eyes, identifying and articulating the various graphic elements that combine to create the reader’s experience of the content. Despite identifying [...]

reading a book like a designer – part 1

This is an update of a post from 01 October 2009. Of course, we book designers read books like regular people. But, when we are in “design mode”, we look at a book in a different way. We’re not so much interested in specific content as we are in identifying how many different elements of [...]

it’s messy, this creative process

Since Thanksgiving, I’ve been working on a personal book project that I’m referring to as my 2011 Inspiration Book. Over the years I have developed pages of material based on various strategic planning systems: year end summaries, goal setting, etc. They have always been written as a business document in Word, printed out on 8.5×11-inch [...]

the bookness of books

My friend and creative collaborator Suzanne Fox and I try to take a few hours off on the last Friday of the month and we inevitably end up at one or another Barnes & Nobles. We walk in, grab a basket, and head in our separate directions with a plan to meet in the café [...]

working with a designer-part two

In working with a designer-part one I offered some suggestions on how to begin to select a book designer. That post ended with arranging a time to talk to them on the phone to find out more. So what is it you want to find out? [No, actually, “What will it cost me to do [...]

working with a designer-part one

Yesterday I had a great time being a Speed Coach at the Association of Personal Historians’ Conference Town Square. I met people who have great work and personal experience and skills that they are now bringing to the field of preserving the stories of individuals, families, businesses, organizations and communities. Because they haven’t worked in [...]

why not design the book yourself?

This is a question I hear frequently from personal historians and others who are writing non-fiction books that will either be privately published or self-published and marketed. [For the purposes of this discussion, let’s consider design all the things that happen in between finishing a manuscript and delivering the digital files to the printer.] The [...]

typography: a primer

Like book design in general, typography is noticed more in its misapplication than when it is well-chosen and well-set. Typography is far more than just picking a font face and size and getting on with it. It’s an artisan’s craft, particularly suited to those who are mildly to moderately obsessive about the tiniest elements: hanging [...]

information design: an introductory syllabus

“What is the best font to use for my book?” That’s a question I hear frequently from writers who want to design their own books. And it’s not a bad question; it’s just usually raised at the wrong point in the process. Before we can choose a font, we need to determine the kinds of [...]