Keep turning the page… In the words of Jan Tschichold, book design, “though largely forgotten today, methods and rules upon which it is impossible to improve, have been developed over centuries. To produce perfect books, these rules have to be brought back to life and applied.” Richard Hendel describes book design as “an arcane subject“, and refers to the need for a context to understand what that means… yes, yes it’s long ago that the story is finished but something was missing… even started to write with an old Canon Typestar the only typewriter I have ever had and owned. It was a piece of a Beloved Machine an ode to an all but obsolete creative companion… but still something was missing…
“Which typefaces should I use for my book?”
That’s probably the question I get asked most often. Well that one and “which camera should I buy…?”
It’s also the most frustrating.
After all, I haven’t seen your book. I don’t know what it’s about or who it’s for or how you’re going to produce it.
All of those impress themselves on the decision.
Armed with knowledge of both the book and the audience, you can expect to get a good result from your font review process.
Having said that, like most book designers, I use the same fonts over and over again.
I would guess that I’ve used—at most—5 or 8 text fonts for books over the years. (and only owned one brand of camera)
No one over that time influenced my work as much as Robert Slimbach. His type designs had such elegance and economy, without sacrificing an individual character, that the instantly become favorites, and have been ever since.
Starting in 1989 with Adobe Garamond Pro, continuing with 1990’s classic Adobe Minion, and concluding in 1996 with Adobe Jenson, it was an explosion of classically-inspired type designs that have stood the test of time.
And I have ended up using a pen and homemade ink… ok…
Design a Book
Well… I should probably mention William Morris too… he was an English textile designer, poet, novelist, translator, and socialist activist. Associated with the British Arts and Crafts Movement, he was a major contributor to the revival of traditional British textile arts and methods of production. His literary contributions helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, while he played a significant role in propagating the early socialist movement in Britain.
Early fantasy writers like Lord Dunsany, E. R. Eddison and James Branch Cabell were familiar with Morris’s romances. The Wood Beyond the World is considered to have heavily influenced C. S. Lewis‘ Narnia series, while J. R. R. Tolkien was inspired by Morris’s reconstructions of early Germanic life in The House of the Wolfings and The Roots of the Mountains. The young Tolkien attempted a retelling of the story of Kullervo from the Kalevala in the style of The House of the Wolfings; Tolkien considered much of his literary work to have been inspired by an early reading of Morris, even suggesting that he was unable to better Morris’s work; the names of characters such as “Gandolf” and the horse Silverfax appear in The Well at the World’s End.
Sir Henry Newbolt’s medieval allegorical novel, Aladore, was influenced by Morris’s fantasies. James Joyce also drew inspiration from his work.
But for me it was William Morris book design it was the art of incorporating the content, style, format, design, and sequence of the various components of a book into a coherent whole. He controlled every little detail.
Beatrix Potter the first one to published books in small format, easy to handle by children…
I started “Der Kampf” (not to be confused with another title of an author who will not be mentioned here…) approximated some years ago so far it has been a continuous learning process always improving always changing some minor details.
It combined calligraphy, illustration, photography and perhaps I should mention that readability was not a priority… but I think the first “prototype” of 500 pages will be finished this year.