Margins provide a frame of white space around the text, insulating it from the scenery around the book, the other things and people in the reader’s field of vision. Read More »

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Legibility and Readability

Legibility is concerned with how quickly one can process the information presented, especially under adverse circumstances. Readability is concerned with comfort over time. Read More »

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The Title Page

Considered by many to be the single most important page of the book, the title page traditionally includes the title of the book, the author or authors, and the publisher. Sometimes, the editor is noted here as well. Often included is the location of the publisher’s main office, or the city where the book was printed, and the date of publication – but these are more and more to be found on the title verso (aka the copyright page). There may be some illustration or ornament.
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The First Verso

The first verso page of a book, which is also the back of the bastard title, is often simply blank. Other common uses for this page include a list of the author’s previously published works, a quote, or a dedication. Read More »

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The Half Title

The Half Title (sometimes called “the bastard title”) is the first page in most books. Occasionally, a publisher will place reviews or blurbs before the half title for commercial purposes. It is usually just the title, printed in a quiet way, in a face related to the rest of the book. Small caps in the basal text face are popular, although the type may also match the chapter heads. Read More »

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Trim Size

What trim is: If your book is being printed on a large press, it will have several pages printed on one large sheet of paper, which will then be folded and cut (or “trimmed”) to size. The method of arranging pages on a large sheet so everything comes out properly when folded and trimmed is called “imposition.”

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Of all the “given” specs, paper is most often the one handed to you. 20 to 30 pounds offset white is common. If you enjoy the luxury of deciding the paper, you would do well to contact the printer’s paper supplier. Paper is hard, soft, smooth, grainy…. It has pull, warp, texture, depth…. It can be cut, folded, perforated, scored — you get the idea. It is complex and changes often. Read More »

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The best binding for your book is the one that serves the reader best. That will depend on your book and the needs of the reader, so let’s look at the most common binding methods and examine their strengths and weaknesses. Read More »

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How Long Will Your Book Last?

My first book design job was Last Alarm by Jerry Laughlin (NFPA 1986). Jerry was then the editor of “Fire Command” magazine, a publication for firefighters and other professionals in fire prevention, and he had collected five firefighter stories to be published as a book.

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The Espresso Book Machine

This could be the thing that saves the independent book stores. Imagine, while you’re out getting groceries, feeling peckish for a scandalous story, you stop at the bookstore for a copy of Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native. Do they have it? Well of course they don’t have it — did Thomas Hardy win American Idol? Does Thomas Hardy have a talk show? Did Thomas Hardy go to rehab? No, no, and I don’t know, but anyway, I think they called it “detox” back then.

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