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 [...]

seven housekeeping tips for a smoother workflow

In a previous post I wrote about stumbling blocks to watch out for in your workflow. Today I want to write from the positive side: what you can do to make your workflow go more smoothly with less wasted effort and, most importantly, less chance of making silly errors. 1. Use styles. Styles have been [...]

five workflow stumbling blocks and how to avoid them

This is an update to a post originally published in March, 2010. Book design and production is a complicated process with a lot of moving parts: text and graphics, multiple people, as well as a fair share of technology gremlins. Some glitches are bound to arise, but many are predictable and thus can be avoided—or [...]

ode to book-as-object

I recently completed a book design project: the life story of a colleague’s mother. [Let’s call her Miriam.] The manuscript had been in process for many months; Miriam had seen it on numerous occasions. As the book design and layout progressed, I created .pdf files as review copies for my colleague. Some of these were [...]

personal+history: ted grant and the art of observation

When you write the history of Canada in the 60s, it will be written with Ted Grant photographs. — Joan Schwartz of Queen’s’ University. I was recently at a screening of The Art of Observation, a documentary on the life and work of Ted Grant, known at the father of Canadian photojournalism.  It was written, [...]

envisioning seven generations

Whenever the question of creating a personal history comes up, people frequently say: Oh, nobody’s interested in hearing about my life. My kids are busy with their jobs and their families and the grandkids are too young to care. Or: My kids have heard all my stories; they don’t need to read about them in [...]

tell your life story with 20 pictures

Well, maybe it’s more like a collection of very short stories. My point is, it’s easy to get started. Pull out 20 – or 12 or 37 – photos. [How about 17 for a haiku?] Write down the who-what-where and -when of each one. Then write a little more. Give it some context. What happened [...]

photos and art and memory and books: this is personal history

It’s the end of a busy couple of weeks where I have been focused on a lot of things–training and financials and marketing–everything except what I love the most: making books from photos and memories. I came across this fabulous project in my Facebook stream late last night and just had to share it with [...]

Can people trust your pricing?

Let’s suppose you were a builder and a potential client says, I’d like you to build me a structure out of this particular material that’s this size with this kind of a roof, one door, and four windows. How much would that cost? You go back to the office, look up prices for materials, figure [...]

thinking about [profitable] book design & production

It’s been almost a year since I introduced this blog with my first post What is Book Thinking to orient readers to this site. Here’s what I wrote: … I plan to share what I have learned about how to think about a book project, organize its content [particularly images], design and produce it—and make [...]