Gordon McGregor has an interesting post on book design. Gordon, who’s braver than I am, generously shares his previous PDF format book-like efforts, three of them. He’s also got a book recommendation – I have requests for the book he recommends (and the sister volume on type) at the library, so I should have them in hand shortly. Go give Gordon’s blog a visit to see the book titles and his views on them.
In the meantime, I’ve struggled quite a bit with trying to put together a sort of first blush mockup of a book in Adobe InDesign. My struggles have NOT been with InDesign, which takes a bit of learning but is not horrible. Instead, I’ve spent a lot of time struggling with basic concepts of book design – questions like “What is the proper order of all that stuff at the front of the book?” and “What info is really supposed to go on the copyright page?” and so on.
It didn’t take me long to sit down and order up a pile of books from the library. So far I have examined four:
- Bookworks – Making Books by Hand – Gwenyth Swain.
- New Book Design – Roger Fawcett-Tang
- The Little Book of Layouts – David E. Carter
- Book Design and Production – Pete Masterson
The first book, Bookwords – Making Books By Hand, I requested because I have vague ideas of making extra-special one-off books by printing the pages on my z3100 and then building the pages into a book by hand. Great idea, but this is not the book to get me up to speed for that project. New Book Design I requested hoping it would give me fundamental concepts in book design. Instead, it’s a collection of photos of cover and page spreads for a bunch of modern books. That’s probably great if you’re already up to speed on book design, but it’s not what I wanted. The Little Book of Layouts is not really books at all – it’s all about brochures. Since what I want is help on book specifics, that’s not much help to me. All three of those will go back to the library.
The last book, Book Design and Production, is subtitled A Guide for Authors and Publishers. It’s exactly the sort of book I was looking for. I’ve been learning about ‘front matter’, ‘body’, and ‘back matter’. As I suspected, it turns out there’s a conventional order for everything, and the book has solid information on all of this. In addition, the book is largely oriented toward people who, like me, want to engage in the masochistic process of doing their own book layout using their own computer and some bit of software. There’s what seems to be a very realistic rundown on the various alternatives for software, including Microsoft Word,Pagemaker, Framemaker, Quark Xpress, InDesign, Ventura, Publisher. There’s even a highly enlightening comparison of the same text set with Word, Pagemaker, and InDesign. The difference in appearance between the text set in Word and the text set in InDesign is stunning and really has to be seen to be believed. Let’s just pause here and say that I’m not disappointed that I’ve purchased InDesign.
I liked this book so much that I immediately went to Amazon and purchased a copy. I’m going to want this far longer than the time the library will let me keep it.