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Book Design Basics: Choosing a Book Font — 4 Comments

  1. A lot of good information compressed into short accessible articles.

    I am currently designing a poetry book. I was planning to use 12 pt Baskerville Oldstyle. The book is 8″x8″ and I was planning to put a photograph on the left page of each spread and a poem on the right. However, I have had to double bank a few of the poems and some won’t fit on one page at all. Should I forgo the photo and start the longer poems on the left side of the spread or start the poem on the right page as usual and run the end over to the left side of the next spread? I’m not completely happy with the double banked pages either. Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Poetry books are very difficult as page lengths vary greatly. Part of the problem is that you’ve decided on specifications for a container and then found them to be incompatible with your contents. The book design, ideally, is customized to hold the contents; that’s its job. You’re forced to use poems that fit on a single page, accept some inconsistency in your design, or abandon your formula. Take a look at some of Shel Silverstein’s poetry books. He integrated a lot of illustrations into poems of varying lengths, and I suspect that if you study the way it was done, you’ll find some logic to the approach.

      One way would be to divide each page up into vertical halves or thirds. Set the poems in 2 or 3 columns per page accordingly. Use as many columns as each poem doesn’t use to contain the illustrations. And if you need a full spread or more, compensate with a full-spread illustration on the previous or following page.

      Readers will forgive your divergence from formula if you engage them with good content.

  2. Excellent, thorough rundown of similarities and contrasts. So much of what you’re demonstrating here provides great shortcuts for typographic tyros on the latest Windows/Word versions, where most of this exists. This just gives people like indies and self-pubs better ideas, once they know where to look on their personal software programs.