On Book Design Hardcover – 4 Jan 1999
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On Book Design is divided into three sections. In "Looking Like Books" Hendel discusses what makes a book, a book. More than just the author's words, a book is defined by its typography, the size of the fonts, the width of the margins, where the subheads fall on a page. While this may seem obvious, what is harder to determine is the right combination of all these subjective elements. If a reader is paying more attention to the arrangement of the words rather than to the content itself, the design may be overdone.
The book's second section, "The Design Begins Here" describes exactly what it is that designers do-from the big picture stuff (e.g., matching the author's content and tone) to the smallest details (e.g., determining whether to choose old-style or line numbers).
Scattered throughout the book are samples of projects designed by Hendel and others. This is extremely helpful and often fascinating, though on occasion the level of detail Hendel provides borders on the tedious.
In the third section, "How Designers Work," Hendel hands the page over to several respected designers. Some work entirely on the computer; others, like Hendel, use pencil and paper to create their first design drafts. As Hendel notes, "What is important is not the mechanics of making the layouts but finding exactly the right design and typeface for the author's words."
Involved in the craft some fifteen years myself, I found Mr. Hendel's presentation, and the angles of his eight, interesting, informative, and helpful.
There are times when, as a designer, I'm stuck for some push in a direction so as to get started. And as a page comp and layout artist on others' book designs, I'm sometimes left questioning how and why someone else's book design was conceived the way it was. On Book Design goes a long way toward providing some possible paths to answering those questions.
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