Box of books from Lightning Source

I received my first box of 4o copies of Bookbuilder’s Almanac: Volume One this week. I ordered these to send out to reviewers.

Up to now, I’ve only seen the book as a single-order printing. As you know, part of my objective with the Bookbuilder’s Almanac is to create a useful sample to show print quality.

Imagine my surprise when I surveyed my books and discovered that 16 were printed with inkjet technology and the remaining 24 were printed with toner-based printers.

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Toner based printing (top) vs. inkjet printing (bottom)

The toner versions are darker and sharper than the inkjet versions. The toner is shiny. The inkjet versions are smoother and not quite black enough. Some typefaces are better in one version than the other. Both versions have similar gray capacity.

[05.11.16: My friend Alan Gilbertson observed that the two versions are printed on different papers, “a fairly opaque bright white for the toner version and a much less opaque, lower-brightness stock for inkjet,” he wrote in an email to me].

I asked my rep if he had any insights as to why I received a shipment printed two different ways. His response echoed the information I had received from a printer at the Publishing Professional’s Network conference last week. These decisions are made at the manufacturing site based on maximizing resources.

The Bookbuilder’s Almanac has a spine built to show clearly any deviation from the spine width provided by the manufacturer. Don’t design your book this way, especially for a skinny book!

In the photo below you can see where the tan front front cover was pulled on to the blue spine or where the back cover with the bright cyan, magenta, and yellow bars pulls from the back cover.

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Spine variation of a box of books

My assessment is that the problem is not that the cover is mounted incorrectly but that the bulk of the book varies. Some books are clearly fatter than others. Considering, the equipment does a good job of delivering books where the cover is not compromised by showing the spine and where the spines, well, appear on the spine. Take note as you design your spines. I recommend your spine color wrap around to the back, or be the same color as the back cover area.

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Binding variance over 40 books printed via Lightning Source.

I found only one major printing flaw: a place where the toner had not fused to the paper:

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Flaw in a screened area from a toner printed book from Lightning Source.

I would very much like to hear your stories about books you’ve received from Lightning Source. And, while I am promoting Bookbuilder’s Almanac: Volume One, I am giving away review copies

Comment your address to me.

 

Design Eye on AWP16 part 2

I know, AWP16 is so #LastWeek.

Want to mention a few more design finds. Two publishers caught my eye because of their great cover programs.

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Open Letter Books

Open Letter Books has a wonderful set of covers, all made with simple illustration type and color. Have to admire the creativity there. Open Letter is a literary translation press out of Rochester University. Ann Zylicz is the designer of at least some of those books.

Broken River Books had a table of great book covers playing off of vintage cover design, often in a weathered grungy treatment.

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Covers by Broken River Press designed by Matt Rivere [?]

AWP16 Broken River Books booth

The folks at Broken River Press

Finally, some striking broadsides caught my eye and led me to conversation with Doncarlos Price about Public Pool. PublicPool.org “One Space for All Poets” has a dynamic visual presence, announces a future podcast and takes video submission along with written submission. Take a look.

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BOY: A Woman Listening to Men and Boys

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Cover photo: Wynn Bullock, “Child on a Forest Road”

New Title

BOY: A Woman Listening to Men and Boys
by Hathaway Barry

7 x 9, softcover, 374 pages
ISBN 978-0-692-59254-0
On sale through author website

Through first-person chapters told by 17 different men and edited sections with short quotes from many men and boys on select topics (see Contents below), this book gives the reader the opportunity to listen closely and deeply along with author, interviewer, and editor Hathaway Barry.

Barry spent several years interviewing over 80 men for this book. These were men and boys from a wide range of ages and circumstances.

How does it feel to be expected to be a man?
This book is a way to find out.

Author Hathaway Barry from the Introduction:

“I’ve listened a lot in my life — working with kids, especially in the outdoors and, for many years, as a mediator. But I am not a social scientist or an anthropologist. I am not a journalist…. I just wanted to listen without blame or judgment to how it is for men, a whole half of the human species I knew less about. I wanted to hear their honest human stories, without gloss or performance.

“I had a freedom as an interviewer. I was no one in particular in relation to these boys and men. Not wife or lover, colleague, boss or employee. I was just curious.

“Sometimes, in the midst of an interview, I was aware how rare this kind of time with another human being is. Like when we first fall in love or when a child is born or a loved one is dying. Clear, uninterrupted time to simply listen.”

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Book design is by Hathaway Barry and VJB/Scribe. Barry had a vision of the cover that kept her going forward over the many years it took her to arrive at today, when the answers men gave to her openhearted questioning are a book. Her vision, including the typography, was a stepping stone to the interior design, where Avant Garde Gothic appears in the part and chapter titles. From there we resolved all the design questions together, in a remarkable collaboration.

The text has several voices: Hathaway Barry’s own voice as author and editor of the interviews, the singular voices of the 17 first-person chapters, and the chorus of men’s voices of all ages as we meet them in brief quotations followed by their age (in parenthesis).

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The main text and the authors voice are set in Scala. After much experiment, and a happenstance type discovery in another book, the very readable sans serif Whitney Book became the typeface for the short quotation sections and running footers.

This is a difficult book to categorize, which is one reason we didn’t list a BISAC code on the cover.

Sociology, Psychology, Compassion Studies, Social History, Gender Studies, Live-With-Your-Man Handbook, Know Your Brothers Manifesto — Whatever you call it: Read and share Boy: A Woman Listening to Men and Boys.

Design Eye on AWP16

Books I brought home from the large book fair at AWP 2016.

Gleanings from AWP 2016 book fair

I traversed the book fair floor with an eye to interesting covers and book forms. I was thrilled to see the beauty, the risks, and the variety of books brought to the AWP16 word party.

From top left to right:

Organic Weapons Arts (OW! Arts) out of Detroit produce 5.5 x 6.5 chapbooks that fall somewhere between trade books and handmade. Kudzu Does Not Bend by Jane Wong has an outsider-arts-and-crafts illustration on the cover.

Yes Yes Books is in the photo twice. Dream with a Glass Chamber by Aricka Foreman is a 5.5 x 6.5 chapbook that is so polished I hardly want to call it a chapbook. I’m a fan of Alban Fischer, the designer at Yes Yes, and he can’t help it but make a miniature jewel.

Siglio Press is in the photo three times because, well I just want to own every book on their table. Siglio books are singular because they are beautifully executed and are all doorways into extraordinary arts and minds. The colorful book peeking out at 12:00 in the photo is the ecstatic You Who Read Me with Passion Now Must Forever Be My Friends by Dorothy Iannone and edited by Lisa Pearson. Beauty beauty beauty!

Copper Canyon Press at 1:00 position, represented by So Much Synth by Brenda Shaugnessy. Love that “synth” image and the rich colors of the jacket front and back. The case is shiny gray. I have to say, Copper Canyon Press treats poetry very well. Hardcover poetry. Wow. Book design by Phil Kovacevich. (Full disclosure, CCP is my client)

Immediately below that is Lotería Huasteca: Woodblock Prints by Alec Dempster, Porcupine’s Quill Press. Every book on this publisher’s table had the same toothy paper and letterpressy feeling covers — and no wonder. Follow the links to see how they do it. The interior designs by Canada’s Tim Inkster.

To the right of the Lotería is Suite Vénitienne by Sophie Calle (Siglio). It has a gorgeous blue case with a die cut shaped like an eye, and reveals part of the photo on the flyleaf that provides the iris to complete the effect. And this isn’t just a cute device, it serves the work perfectly.

Next to the blue Suite, at 3:00 and 4:00 are books by Otis Books, the publishing arm of the Graduate Writing program at Otis College of Art and Design. Traditional typography and photography on the interiors, and always black covers. Propped open is Tlemcen or Places of Writing by Mohammed Dib. Below that, in black is Panic Cure: Poetry from Spain for the 21st Century edited by Forrest Gander. All the books are beautifully traditional, and it is good to know that there is a writing program like this one that show writing students how it’s done. They must chafe against those black covers though! . . . suppose it keeps them focused.

“And now for something completely different . . . ” Saturn, by Simon Jacobs published by Spork Press “Bound with prescriptions, dirt, Vangelis, help, more IPA, and Sander Monson Jr” as noted on the copyright page, the book feels simultaneously like a Little Golden Book (the cardboard binding) and a zine (the art). The people at the Spork table showed me a new, larger format product. This is so good, it has to be from Portland, but it isn’t. It comes from Tucson. Note to self: take another look at Tucson.

At 6 o’clock position is another Yes Yes book, this time 7″ x 9″ with fold-outs no less. Some Planet, by John Mortara

At 7 o’clock is Texas: The Great Theft by Carmen Boullosa published by Deep Vellum Publishing. Support literature in translation!

Finally, The Center is Barbaric, The Periphery is Without Lights by Tim Early, Doublecross Press, printed in daring letterpress, metallic silver on black on the cover and black on craft paper on the interior. Big lovely gothic letterforms. Typeset and printed at The Center for Book Arts, NYC by Anna Gurton-Wachter, MC Hyland, and Jeff Peterson.

Still lots more to digest from the feast of AWP2016. More soon.

Here’s a link to Part 2.

 

 

Design for Finding Them Gone

“The exquisite production quality of the book effectively highlights both his talents as translator and his vision as a travel writer.”—Justin Radland, The Los Angeles Review of Books

Finding Them Gone: Visiting China’s Poets of the Past by Bill Porter / Red Pine
400 pages, over 120 photos, 7 x 9 softcover
Finding Them Gone by Bill Porter/Red Pine

The book is organized around the story of Bill Porter’s Guggenheim award project. He traveled around China, visiting sites related to poets and offering libation to their spirits. It is a combination of travelogue, translation, and commentary where each chapter represents one of thirty days on a whirlwind tour.

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The title page spread suggests the dizzying array of gravestones, pagodas and memorial halls visited during the journey, as well as the impressive list of Bill Porter/Red Pine’s published works.

Pages include poems in English and Chinese, images and captions. Wayfinding consists of running feet that tell the day number of the current page and he poet discussed on the page.

We wanted a book that you could open at random and jump in. Read a poem, take up the story, enjoy a photo.

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From over 400 photos, Bill Porter and I culled down the lot. Layout of the book was done organically as I flowed the text and sized the photos into the five basic photo shapes I established within the design grid. All of the photos were adjusted for at least -10% in the shadow. Most photos required individual attention.

This book was unusual in that the design evolved as we developed first a single-chapter fundraiser and then adjusted that design to fit more lines on the page for the book. The book is printed on antique white rather than bright white stock, a choice that puts the words before the photos, and is consistent with other Copper Canyon Press titles.

fundraising sample and test of color for the cover

Finding Them Gone fundraising sample and 3 color proofs of the cover as I adjusted the final color.

You can order a copy of your own, direct from Copper Canyon Press.

2015 book projects

Book projects by VJB/Scribe in 2015

2015 Book projects

Last year I was busy, with over 20 projects reaching the printer/distributor over the calendar year.

Themes: More interest in unusual treatments, more working directly with authors.

Most notable project: Finding Them Gone by Red Pine/Bill Porter, Copper Canyon Press. 400 pages, over 120 black and white photos, poems in Chinese with English translation. I had a great deal of design latitude over what photos to include and how to present the material. This book turned into a true labor of love for VJB/Scribe and for the team at Copper Canyon Press.

Most traditional book interior: Sense of the Whole, Counterpoint Press. VJB/Scribe handled the design and layout of the interior, up to the backmatter which was added after hand-off.

Changes in the industry: Publishers continue to lower their production standards. Lithocases are replacing jacketed hardcovers, paper is replacing cloth over boards. Digital printing is so good most people can’t tell the difference. POD has improved some, but, most people don’t notice that either!  Color is whatever it turns out to be.

PDF commenting seems to have been adopted by everyone, at least on one side of the digital divide. Since it actually takes longer to make changes communicated that way (I’ll write a separate post about that), we’ve gone backwards just to be digital. Not the first time!

Since I’m updating my blog, that must mean I have time for your project in my schedule. Get in touch!

Ben & Jerry’s Flavor

For the interior design of Ice Cream Social, Brad Edmondson’s history of Ben & Jerry’s, I asked, What makes Ben & Jerry’s visual flavor?

Title Page

Ice Cream Social Title Page

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Ice Cream Social: Table of Contents

Mr Natural. I bet he enjoys Ben and Jerry’s.

B&J’s packaging and clever/irreverent product names have their roots in the 1970s. The early designers must have had copies of U&lc in their offices, and the cartoon illustrations of Gilbert Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics, and the lighter side of R Crumb in their minds.

It turns out that Ben & Jerry’s style was created by hand, by illustrator and graphic designer Lyn Severance. Be sure to follow the link to see the scope of her work.

Since B&J’s original shop opened in 1978, I think it is safe to speculate that she was inspired in part by Joel Kaden and Tony Stan’s American Typewriter (1974), but when I consider that she did all the lettering herself, and eventually turned her designs into typefaces, to call her work anything other than original and trendsetting would be a mistake. She tapped into the youthfulness and enthusiasm for the handmade that was in the culture at the time and applied it with great success.

ITC American Typewriter

So, for the major display type elements of the interior, American Typewriter Bold was an essential ingredient. Next, I needed to find a text face that would harmonize with the right amount of authority and formality. In this day an age, slab serifs have enjoyed a significant revival, and that would have been one direction to go. Instead, I let my instincts guide me, and reached back into my typesetter past. I remembered a typeface that was popular in the 70s and 80s, but hasn’t really made it into the 21st century digital culture, (aside from the fact that it you can buy the font in OpenType form): Stemple Schneidler.

Stemple Schneidler Book

To me, the typeface feels like the older, wiser, relative of the youthful American Typewriter. Why do I think it blends with American Typewriter? I suppose it is because of the emphasized serifs, and it could also be that it is a Venetian typeface reinterpreted in the 1930s. I’d argue that the B&J style also looks back to early animated cartoons and lettering styles from the 1930s. Stemple Schneidler has great legibility and earthy elegance.

You’ll see a bit of Shag Mystery (brought in from Irene Morris’s clever cover) as well as Ironwork and Berliner Grotesque to add crunch. The smooth creamy narrative flows in Stemple Schneidler with American Typewriter ripple (heads).

Chapter Opener

Chapter Opener

Photo page

Photo page

Ice Cream Social won a silver award for design in 2014 from Pub West.

Stonehouse Is in the House

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The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse, translation and commentary by Red Pine published by Copper Canyon Press.

Thinking of Eric Gill, and his background as a stonecutter, I set the book title with Gill’s beautiful Perpetua Titling capitals. I fell in love with the shapes of the letters, I admit.

Then, we found the image of the man in his simple hut, in the midst of dragon-shape pine trees. After acquiring the image rights, we learned that this scene was a detail from the  familiar painting, “The Thatched Hut of Dreaming an Immortal” by Tang Yin (late 16th C), the wide painting depicts a man hovering in space at the left side. The Immortal hovers just beyond the book cover too.

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The interior design balances the vertical lines of Chinese and the dense commentary on the verso pages with the poem number and translation on the recto page. All along, we wanted to keep the attention on the poems, with no more than 2 poem per spread.

I selected Minion for the text, as the sections of commentary can be long and we had limited space. Minion is slightly condensed so fits more words on the page than Bembo (another face I considered). Why not Perpetua for the text? Aside from the problem of fitting commentary, I don’t use Perpetua anymore for text because it falls apart when printed POD, and even though this book was printed on web press (at McNaughton and Gunn), you never know how the text may be printed in future.

The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse

Copious notes and commentary are part of what make Red Pine’s books so great.

The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse: spread 2

Stonehouse: The page has to work with less text, too.

Multilingual books are always full of puzzles to solve. In this case the poems contain some archaic characters, so we relied on a compositor in Taiwan to compose the Chinese. Delivered as a PDF, each page contained several poems. I placed the PDF and cropped out the other poems. Midway through, the Chinese compositor changed the spacing and organization of the source pdf changed. Aargh! I had to relink and check and recrop all those text boxes. What are blogs for if not for complaining, right?

I’ll end with one of my favorite poems from this collection:

Poem 13, by Stonehouse

Poem 13 by Stonehouse, translated by Red Pine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To buy a copy of the book, buy direct from Copper Canyon Press, or browse your local bookseller.

 

Day at the LA Art Book Fair

Yesterday I spent the day at Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.  Here are some of the books and ephemera I brought home:

Printed materials from LA Art Book Faire

Books and ephemera from the LA Art Book Fair, 2014*

If you have a chance, get down there to see it tonight or tomorrow! The Fair is full of creative energy with visual and tactile excitement. This isn’t a fair of stodgy conservative expensive fine editions, although there are a few example of that. This fair celebrates the creative adventure of making books and shows the work of first-time as well as seasoned publishers.

Over 200 exhibitors show off their books, zines, posters, wall paper and ephemera. Artists and produces are there at the tables. With your attention focused in the strange and exciting world of an artist book, or engaged in conversation with a creator, you’ll emerge refreshed by the vitatlity of the book arts!

*Books and ephemera including clockwise from bottom Beautiful Monsters: Paper cuttings by Jad Fair produced by Knust/Extrapool; Otis Books catalog by Rebecca Chamlee; Mahmoud Darwish: Once poemas produced by crc (Casa Refugio Citalaltépetl); Venice Beach Biannual 2012 by Lisa Anne Auerbach, Robby Herbst, Kimberly Varella; Everything Sings: Maps for a Narrative Atlas by Denis Wood produced by Siglio Press. NIH NIH by Miniature Garden (Jamie Stewart, Denise Schatz, Casey Cook)