Archive for October, 2011

20 or 30 Pieces I Would Like to Write for This Blog

7 comments October 30th, 2011

I tried earlier, months ago already, to emerge from this fallow period and to start blogging again regularly. Over the last week or so I began to make a list that would hopefully stretch to twenty or thirty pieces. I mean, surely I still have that much to offer anyone interested in book design and making books, particularly self-publishers.

So far, counting the instant piece, I have eleven. I might have said fifteen, counting the four ideas a friend tweeted or Facebook messaged me but that I somehow lost.

  1. 20 or 30 Pieces I Would Like to Write for This Blog, in which I present some new subjects that get to the heart of book design and freelancing, or in which I discuss some new things I have learned about old topics, all information from which self-publishers might benefit without spending the twenty or so years it took me to learn.
  2. 10 Books I Wish I Had Designed, a look at just that, maybe showing some sample pages and how I might have made them look. Although it has been said that there are only seven or ten or twelve plots in all of literature, I don’t know that picking ten books I wish I had designed  would cover every possibility. But that really isn’t my point
  3. Sans Serif Typefaces I Might Consider for Body Text in Books would explore something that used to peeve me greatly: how some book designers ignore the “rule” that only serif types ought to be used for booklength stretches of text. Of course, now that I have years and years of this work under my belt, I’m both leery of hard and fast rules, as well as of my own hardline stances. It seems to me that if using a sans for a book’s body text makes that book stand out in a bright, creative way that does not distract the reader, I have served my client in the best way.
  4. Am I a Luddite for Having a ‘Tude About the Proliferation of Ebooks? discusses my reluctance to design, much less embrace, ebooks. The problem for me is still that the reader can adjust the typeface(s) used and type size.
  5. When I Blogged Regularly, I Was Busy; When I Stopped … about the benefits of an active online presence to graphic designers selling their services.
  6. Turning Down Work, in which I would discuss the importance of trusting one’s instincts about how difficult a prospective client might be to work with, and—this is the important point—how, when we work with clients not right for us, we almost guarantee the likelihood that the client’s needs are not met in the best way possible.
  7. Other Obsolete Art Forms takes the position that print books are on their way out and looks at some other art forms gone the way of the dodo bird.
  8. What Does It Take to—and How Did I—Become a Book Designer? Where I give up the goods on just how I got to be a freelance book designer and page composition artist.
  9. Confusing One’s Professional Identity and Promotional Path Online with Personal Voice. I asked an online acquaintance, another publishing freelancer, for some ideas for reaching new prospective self-publishers to offer my services. He pointed out that I discuss a lot of things—food, running, baseball—that don’t really give prospective clients a reason to hire me for book design. I’m concerned that he may be correct and disappointed that being multifaceted may not be of value to prospective clients.
  10. Am I Affected by Steve Jobs’ Death? I’m concerned about Apple without Jobs at the helm. Will they maintain the Macintosh OS as much of a productivity tool as it’s been to me for over twenty years?
  11. Writing a Book About Book Design may discuss my using this blog as the foundation for telling the story of how I became a freelance book designer and page layout artist, how I work, what tools I use, how I find work, and each of the books on which I’ve worked.

Well, that is about as much as I have to this point. But, as always, I am open to suggestions if you want to help me with the remaining nine or nineteen.

R.I.P. Steve

Add comment October 7th, 2011

You could say I would not be the person I am today if not for Steve Jobs. You can certainly say that I would not be a book designer if not for his work and the company he co-founded, shaped, and re-shaped.

The first computer I owned—I got it in 1985—was an Apple IIe. I got it because I liked the way it was styled, not really for anything it could do. I really had no clue what I would do with my Apple IIe, though I began to learn the computer programming language basic. After noodling in basic, I realized there would be no moving on to serious programming languages and actual software development.

My next computer was an Apple IIgs, kind of midway between my old IIe and the original Macintosh (although the Macintosh had appeared already). The firt few models of Macintosh did not appeal to me. I was not enamored of the small screen; I emphatically did not like the all-in-one design. Then someone showed me output from his ImageWriter dot matrix printer and Macintosh. It was far better than what my Apple IIgs produced with my ImageWriter. My friend’s output looked like type, not the dots mine produced. The difference was Macintosh’s ability to “speak” Postscript, the language that brought typesetting and what Steve Jobs had learned about letterforms to desktop computers from that calligraphy class he famously sat in on at Reed College after dropping out.

I know most of what I wrote above is about me, not Steve Jobs, but he made that me possible. So far I have done design and/or layout on about 80 books. He made that possible.

He made this me possible. I thank him and wish him well in this new insanely great moment he just began.


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