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So far ceci has created 48 blog entries.

NON-FICTION WRITERS & their Websites

With all the emphasis on platform as a necessity for getting non-fiction published, one might assume that the ratio of non-fiction writers with Web sites would be higher than that of fiction writers.

One recent bit of advice to non-fiction writers: “You need to have a fantastic Website, even before you get an agent.” (link thanks to Joe Wikert).


But based on the July 15 issue of Kirkus non-fiction reviews
:

Of the 60 reviewed authors only 24 had Web sites. That’s 40%, which is lower than our calculation for novelists with Web sites.

Amir D. Aczel, THE JESUIT AND THE SKULL
Steve Almond, (NOT THAT YOU ASKED)
Emerson W. Baker, THE DEVIL OF GREAT ISLAND
John D. Barrow, NEW THEORIES OF EVERYTHING
Bill Bass, BEYOND THE BODY FARM
Bob Beckel, COMMON GROUND
Jane Bernstein, RACHEL IN THE WORLD
Nancy Marie Brown, THE FAR TRAVELER
Matthew Brzezinski, RED MOON RISING
James Campbell, THE GHOST MOUNTAIN BOYS
Gillian Clark, OUT OF THE FRYING PAN
Robert Cole, UNDER THE GUN IN IRAQ
Stacy A. Cordery, ALICE
Michael D’Antonio, A BALL, A DOG, AND A MONKEY
Phoebe Damrosch, SERVICE INCLUDED
Christopher J. Dodd, LETTERS FROM NUREMBERG (Ok, Presidential candidates automatically have a publishing platform!)
Dominic Dromgoole, WILL & ME
Norbert Ehrenfreund, THE NUREMBERG LEGACY
Kathleen Flinn, THE SHARPER YOUR KNIFE, THE LESS YOU CRY
James R. Gaines, FOR LIBERTY AND GLORY
John Gray, BLACK MASS
Boze Hadleigh, BROADWAY BABYLON
Lesley Hazleton, JEZEBEL
Andrew Helfer, RONALD REAGAN
Paul Hoffman, KING’S GAMBIT
Corinne Hofmann, REUNION IN BARSALOI
A.J. Jacobs, THE YEAR OF LIVING BIBLICALLY
Catherine James, DANDELION
Robert D. Kaplan, HOG PILOTS, BLUE WATER GRUNTS
Hugh Kennedy, THE GREAT ARAB CONQUESTS
Glenn Kessler, THE CONFIDANTE
Jon Kukla, MR. JEFFERSON’S WOMEN
Alan Lapidus, EVERYTHING BY DESIGN
Jon Latimer, 1812
Paul Maher, Jr., JACK KEROUAC’S AMERICAN JOURNEY
Cristina Marcano, HUGO CHÁVEZ
Marco Martinez, HARD CORPS
Mark Matthews, THE LOST YEARS
Brian Morton, PRINCE
Michael J. Neufeld, VON BRAUN
Henry Petroski, THE TOOTHPICK
Paul Pines, MY BROTHER’S MADNESS
Norman Podhoretz, WORLD WAR IV
Katherine Ramsland, BEATING THE DEVIL’S GAME
Jim Reisler, THE BEST GAME EVER
John Elder Robison, LOOK ME IN THE EYE
Jessica Snyder Sachs, GOOD GERMS, BAD GERMS
Frank Schaeffer, CRAZY FOR GOD
Richard Shelton, CROSSING THE YARD
Peggy Shumaker, JUST BREATH NORMALLY
Ed Sikov, DARK VICTORY
Barbara Sjoholm, THE PALACE OF THE SNOW QUEEN
Jeffrey Toobin, THE NINE
Lou Ureneck, BACKCAST
Charles Van Onselen, THE FOX AND THE FLIES
Geoffrey C. Ward, THE WAR
Susan Warren, BACKYARD GIANTS
Andrew Wilson, HAROLD ROBBINS
Mort Zachter, DOUGH
Keld Zeruneith, THE WOODEN HORSE

By |July 16th, 2007|Categories: author websites|Tags: |7 Comments

BOOK COVER DESIGN versus CD COVER DESIGN

As a book designer I rarely get to do CD covers but last week I got to do one: Temple Bahan Band.

For me the process was almost the same as for books, just with some different details: I decided to play the CD’s music while working. I have to say that it was different, while listening to the music I tried to think of images and finally more than just images, what I found through the music were layers: different layers with the various voices & instruments that I translated into colors, images, swirls, shapes, and different levels of transparency & this is how I came to design the first mock-ups.

my first approach

The publisher’s feedback was that they wanted to add some city/party/celebration/ritual themes to the images so from that I worked on it graphically: the old wall texture in the background, the Hindu god, the crowd, some flowers related to Hindu rituals…and here’s the new covers, that yes, the publisher liked.

new covers

By |July 5th, 2007|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , |3 Comments

WHEN TOO MUCH of the DESIGNER goes INTO THE COVER

In this case, I couldn’t read the book because I had to come up with some mock-ups for the next day. All I had was a little idea of what the novel is about and a title: HAPPINESS.

With that in mind, I did a few cover attempts, chose the better ones (these designs) and sent them to the publisher.

Happiness

Later I showed that work to Mijal, a friend & designer, and when saw the blue one, she pointed out, “How clear that is your concept of happiness: winter & snow, while for many other people happiness would be a beach, warmth” … mmm, (yes, I do love winter).

Of course I was completely unconscious about it, and so much inside the design that couldn’t take any distance to be able to see it.

I always say that the work should never reflect the designer, but the author and the book. Yet, that’s difficult to do when the publisher insists that the mock-ups be done in less than one day.

By |July 4th, 2007|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , |1 Comment

POSITION of TITLE on BOOK SPINE

One of the main tasks in my job years ago as a student assistant in the library was shelf reading. And, oh, is that boring, shelf by shelf, checking to make sure every book is in call number order. You’re supposed to just look at the classification numbers but I usually would look at the titles on the spine, also. You had to do something to make the job a little easier.

Later, throughout my library career, like all librarians, I spent a lot of time browsing among the stacks, reading a lot of titles on the spine and not thinking much about how those titles were positioned.

Top down or bottom up?

One of the things I love to do in Buenos Aires is to browse among the many great bookstores in this city. On my first visit to the bookstores here in Argentina I noticed something odd but it took me a minute to figure it out. Then I went home to examine the books in English that I had brought with me from the U.S.: almost all of the Spanish-language books in Buenos Aires have the titles on the book spine printed from the bottom up. All my English-language books are printed with titles from the top down. (I only have about 100 or so English books here but the spines are all consistent).

Honestly, I don’t know if there’s some kind of international standard for this type of thing or if it’s just convention in different countries or publisher preference. (In the library world there seems to be an ANSI standard for just about everything!)

The Impact: browse from left or right

The direction of the title on the spine isn’t that big of a deal but you do notice it when browsing in the bookstore or the library – which way you stand, which way you tilt your head, which way you step from side-to-side or around the customer browsing next to you.

Yet, I have noticed in Spanish-language books that there is a little lack of consistency: 90% of the Spanish-language titles I see have spine titles printed from bottom to top but a few are the opposite.

I took a photo of one of my shelves at home to illustrate. Look at the Saramago books: the English version of The Stone Raft next to the Spanish version of Ensayo sobre la ceguera. But then just a couple of books over is Arqueología de Buenos Aires.


titlesonbookspines

(Click the photo to see a larger size).

By |June 12th, 2007|Categories: Book Design|Tags: |7 Comments

A BETTER WAY to do E-BOOKS

Yesterday we talked about some of the problems with the current generation of e-books. And by e-book we’re not talking about the types that require a proprietary hardware reader. We mean just digital files (usually PDF) that can be purchased online.

Travelfish is a company that specializes in producing downloadable guidebooks (eGuides) to travel spots in Southeast Asia. Each guide is available in PDF and costs around $2.95 – $3.95. For each eGuide book Travelfish tells the prospective buyer exactly how many pages and maps are included as well as other relevant information to help make your purchase decision.

And one of the things I like the best is that Travelfish provides screen snapshots of the interior layout of the eGuides.

travel e-book

That tells potential buyers that Travelfish isn’t trying to hide anything, isn’t attempting to rip someone off with a crappy e-book. Travelfish just put a little effort into making what appears to be a quality product.

I also like the low pricing of the Travelfish guides. I see a lot of e-books that charge the same as a printed hardcover volume. I think that a smaller page count along with a smaller price creates a better e-book product. Most books, even in print, don’t need to be 300 pages and an e-book certainly doesn’t need to be that long. Also, the low pricing should make the purchase an impulse buy for many people.

We think that Travelfish has a good model for the ways that e-books should be developed and marketed.

By |June 1st, 2007|Categories: e-book design|Tags: , |6 Comments

Designing E-BOOK COVERS

We’ve noticed that there’s a lot of demand for designing e-book covers. And as with all books there is quite a range of quality among the books. Many, if not most, e-books are not very well written. But maybe that’s also true with printed books if one counts all the self-published titles in existence. (There are some very good self-published books, but I think everyone knows that there are also a lot of bad books, too). Some of the e-books we’ve seen are nothing more than Word document files of less than ten pages.

And some e-books are just outright scams. There seems to be a lot of that floating around on the net. And, yes, you can waste money on printed books, too, but at least with print you can see what you buying in the bookstore before purchasing the thing. Most Web sites selling e-books don’t provide previews of any inside pages or even tell you the number of pages.

This brings us to the trend in designing e-book covers where an image is created to make the e-book resemble a printed book, appearing three dimensional with a spine.

We’ve done this ourselves for clients when requested. Here’s an e-book cover and Web page that we’ve designed:

e-book cover design

This isn’t a post to promote that particular e-book, which is why we’re not linking to that particular Web site. We just wanted to address this trend in designing e-book covers. Since we believe in design, we believe all books deserve a good design. There’s an interesting philosophical question as to whether design should be used to promote certain activities but we’ll leave that discussion to the pundits.

But we would like to call for e-book authors not to request an e-book cover that resembles a printed book. You don’t need that. If you want that, then we’ll design it for you but think about why you feel the need for it. What you need, as with any cover, is a compelling design. Indeed, with an e-book you also need a very well designed Web page. Far too many e-books are promoted from poorly designed Web sites.

Also, we would like to see more e-book authors pay attention to the layout and formatting of their interior pages. There is a lot that can be done in PDF. And e-book authors should also provide a preview of a few pages to prospective buyers. With just a little more work, by making a quality product, a quality e-book, you surely can sell more than if you just go for the quick buck from the unsuspecting, naive consumer. Let’s see more quality from e-books.

By |May 31st, 2007|Categories: e-book design|Tags: , |4 Comments

Offshore BOOK COVER DESIGN

Since we’re based in Buenos Aires, we obviously have no problem with outsourcing book cover design to offshore companies. But we’ve stumbled across this example of one of the worse book covers we’ve ever seen.

offshore book cover design

Sure, for $100 you’re not going to get much but this is ridiculous. Of course, such low quality is not just common with some offshore book designers. There are plenty of bad online portfolios of so-called book designers based in the U.S. and Canada. The focus of these firms seem to be self-publishers and the rates for a cover usually range from $100 – $500, though we have seen some bad designers charging $1,000 for a cover. Now, at that price your really should get something good.

A book cover can be cheap but it doesn’t mean that it also has to be bad, bad, bad. For a low price, you’re not going to get great, great, great book covers but you might be able to get good, good, good book covers.

By |May 19th, 2007|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , |1 Comment

MORE BLOGS on TYPE and BOOK DESIGN

This morning I discovered Ace Jet 170, a really great blog on type and print by an English designer working in Belfast. We definitely will be going back and reading this one closely.

I came across Ace Jet 170 via a posting at nigelbeale.com about Canadian book designer C.S. Richardson and Penguin designer David Pearson. Be sure to check out all the links in that post. It’s another blog worthy of close attention. It has a lot of podcasts about books.

By |April 25th, 2007|Categories: Book Design, typography|Tags: , |1 Comment

NEW DESIGNS for BORGES

While maintaining a cohesive style across this series, we wanted to create three covers that each utilized a different aspect that is central to the writings of Borges: time, tigers, mirrors.

Collected Fictions by Borges


Collected Fiction Borges

Selected Poems by Borges


Selected poems Borges

Selected Non-Fictions by Borges


Selected non-fictions Borges

By |April 25th, 2007|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , |Comments Off on NEW DESIGNS for BORGES

PRINTING in small town COLOMBIA

Just north of Bogota is the small town of Zipaquira. It’s known mostly for a cathedral that’s carved deep inside a salt mine. The town also played a small role in the development of literature. Gabriel García Márquez received a scholarship to a school in Zipaquira, where he spent more time in the library reading rather in the classroom.

View of Zipaquira

Wandering through the pleasant colonial town we walked by an open doorway where an elderly woman was printing funeral notices, a common custom in small Colombian towns where the notices are pasted on street corners.

Zipa5117

Curious, and slightly enchanted by the old tools of the printer, we asked if we could come inside and take some photos.

Zipa5121

Type in Zipaquira

By |April 23rd, 2007|Categories: printing|Tags: , , |Comments Off on PRINTING in small town COLOMBIA