About book design

Reading or looking at a book is an act that occurs in time and space. A book is a three-dimensional object and turning the pages takes time. It is also an act that engages more than just the eyes: books have weight, temperature, smell, tactile values. And there is the content: does it make you laugh, or cry, or does it just make you bored, does it even make you wish to conquer nations?

And how easy was it to access the content? Had the writer expressed themselves well, and organised their thoughts effectively? Was the type easy to read, or was it too big or too small? Were the lines too long? Were the headings easy to find? While some of these things are the job of the author, some of them are the job of the person who decides what the book looks like.

When I design a book I have several objectives, priorities vary from one book to another, but it is usually the same set of objectives:

– I want the book to look good.

– I want the content to be accessible to the user.

– I want the design to reflect the content appropriately.

– I want the printers, binders and so on to be able to achieve my design.

– I want to ensure my design is within the publisher’s budget.

I’ve designed more books than you can shake a stick at, that has given me a lot of time to think about the subject. But I still find new and different challenges in every book I design.

You can find out more about my practice as a book designer in the extended essay Backwards and in high heels: the glamorous work of book design that I wrote for Richard Hendel’s book Aspects of Contemporary Book Design.

To find out more please email me or phone +44 (0)7974 176656.

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book detail
book detail
book detail
book detail