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So far jeff has created 23 blog entries.

What we’ve been up to at SoroDesign

We’ve had little time to blog in the last couple of years. A young daughter and a lot of work fills the days & nights. Here’s a brief recap of some of our current & notable past projects (images upcoming in future posts for many of these projects).

In Development

The design and development of two iPad apps for BelMontis Publishers. These are both children book apps:

* Rom and the Whale of Dreams
* The Little Sand Bear

The design and development of an iPad app for boutique hotels

* Phileas Fogg boutique hotels

Book designs in progress:

* It Girl 4 Life by Tamara Branch
* Edgy Conversations by Dan Waldschmidt
* Nestlé: 100 Years in Egypt (for Nestlé Egypt)

Completed in 2011 – 2012

app design & development

* Stray Boots iPhone app

* Recoleta Cemetery iPhone app

* Buenos Aires in 4 Days iPhone app

book design (not a complete listing)

* InsideOut Enneagram: The Game-Changing Guide for Leaders. 100% Fresh by Wendy Appel. Palma Publishing

* Eve’s Breast by Calvin Luther Martin. K-Selected Press

* Keepers of the Black Stones by P.T. McHugh. Glass House Press

* Upgrade to Free: The Best Free & Low-Cost Online Tools and Apps by Beth Ziesenis. TSTC Publishing

* The RV Centennial Cookbook: Celebrating 100 Years of RVing by Evada Cooper. TSTC Publishing

* Lust, Violence, Religion: Life in Historic Waco by Bradley T. Turner. TSTC Publishing

* Wide Awake & Dreaming: A Memoir of Narcolepsy by Julie Flygare. Mill Pond Swan Publishing.

* Tantra, the Play of Awakening by Shambhavi Sarasvati. Jaya Kula Press

* 20 Years Later by Emma Newman, Dystopia Press

* How to Become a Superhero: The Ultimate Guide to the Ultimate You! by Michael Sage, Superhero Press

* Despite Lupus: How to Live Well with a Chronic Illness by Sara Gorman, Four Legged Press

* She’s Six Steps Away by Eric Disco

* Data Dynamite: how liberating information will transform our world by W. David Stephenson,

* The One by Cheryl Robinson, Rose-Colored Books

* Who Will Care When You’re Not There? Estate Planning for Pet Owners by Robert E. Kass, Carob Tree Press

* prototype design of MyTime series for Acco/Mead
* facsimiles of 19th century documents inserted in the page layout of the novel The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno by Ellen Bryson. Henry Holt and Co.

Ceci promises that she will soon get back to blogging about book design. Here are a few links to some her previous posts that you shouldn’t miss.

If you’re interested more in what I’m doing then follow my fairly new blog Endless Hybrids where I write about creativity, learning, and leisure in the age of mobile computing and Internet TVs.

By |January 18th, 2013|Categories: Book Design||Comments Off on What we’ve been up to at SoroDesign

Storytelling in the mid-century

My daughter Mila, born on the second day of this year, will grow up in an era dominated by multi-touch tablets, with ever decreasing thickness and ever increasing capabilities. (Her adulthood likely will be spent with even more flexible devices for consuming information.) Eagerly I will introduce her to reading. Already she hears my voice babbling as I read aloud what she will one day read for herself. Her generation, however, is poised to encounter the stories of the world in manners that are as yet only partially known.

She will come of age in a time when writing is not simply textual (though the careful use of words will persist…must persist). The world of 2030, when Mila is in college, will view one form of writing as a composition elegantly mixing many elements, among which will be words, images, sound, and video. A critical aspect in the coming decades is that the careful use and mixture of those elements must exist.

What do we call these compositions?

Those are not the books we cherish today Those are not e-books. They most definitely are not enhanced e-books. Neither are they documentaries. Technically, the compositions will be contained in some type of app. Maybe they’re just websites. Ultimately, they’re simply stories: narratives for examining the themes that engage civilization, compositions through which we learn and share our experiences of the lives around us.

(And the twenty-first century form of storytelling is as much about the reader as it is about the author.)

A word loosely tossed around these days by media companies is content. Content is often defined by the container. Book necessitates text, perhaps joined by the occasional image. What about other containers? For instance, documentary films necessitate motion images joined with voice-over narration. With the iPad possibilities exist for a hybrid exhibiting capabilities not found in either print or film.

Feeding the reading space of 2030, through whatever magical hardware brand dominates the delivery of digital media, will be apps that are hybrids of books and documentaries.

If we think of the iPad, though, as supporting a new genre then we should step back to examine the whole experience of reading, even asking what is non-fiction? (For the sake of this discussion I leave fiction for another day.) Why do people read and spend time with non-fiction books? Ultimately, I suspect the answer revolves around learning. The desire to learn prompts us to read and, preferably, have an enjoyable experience while doing so. Similarly, that desire to learn in a satisfying manner drives us to view documentaries.

The challenge is in exploring how to leverage the tablet platform for storytelling. The iPad brings a new way of reading. Likewise, it carries forward a new way of writing.

While the publishing community scrambles for today’s solutions, the real burden is on all of us to ensure that tomorrow’s writers & editors understand the elements of style required for creating the publications that will dominate the mid-century. My daughter will be less than forty years of age in 2050. Aspects of the world will be unthinkably different then. Much will remain the same, but the way humans communicate through media will continue its long trajectory. Perhaps what we’re doing now with apps will someday appear as quaint as magic lanterns or the early years of cinema. Undoubtedly, the techniques of writing and composition in a tablet-based digital environment will evolve with time, eventually forming accepted practices that support different types of reading experiences.

By |July 5th, 2011|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , |1 Comment

Introducing our Jr. Book Designer

Mila Soledad is a native of Mar del Plata, Argentina and joined our team on January 2, 2011. Her special interests are children apps for the iPad (along with plastic elephants). We’re thrilled to have her.


And her mom Ceci promises to do more blogging about book design soon.

By |May 11th, 2011|Categories: Book Design|Tags: |3 Comments

Working with color

Here’s a sneak peek at one of the major projects we’ve worked on during the first part of this year: The Great Forgetting by Calvin Luther Martin, published by K-Selected Books.

Book design in full color proof

We’ll be discussing this book’s design a lot more but for a look at the cover go to the publisher’s page.

By |May 18th, 2010|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , |Comments Off on Working with color

A Q&A about book design amid the changes in publishing

Katie Peek over at A Canary in the Data Mine: Explorations of Data Analysis and Information Display blog posted an interview with me on the topic of book design and the changing world of electronic publishing.

By |March 11th, 2010|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , , , , , |Comments Off on A Q&A about book design amid the changes in publishing

Designing for the iPad

The day after. This is a book design blog, so you’d expect me to write about iBooks, the dazzling ePub reader built into the iPad. But I’m not. (Well, I will a bit). And I’m not going to write about what features are lacking in iPad (first generation, after all) or if there’s even a market for this type of device: duh. And I’m not going to waste time debating the backlight. There are a lot more important things to do, such as figuring out how to design content for this new device. Notice: I said designing content, not designing e-books.

iBooks is a response to the market-driven phenomenon of people wanting to read hundreds of pages of text on a computer screen. Is that the best we can do, read text on a screen? Personally, I want to use an ultra-modern computing device for engaging with content in ways not possible merely with text. (Of course, I’m talking primarily about non-fiction here. I love literary fiction & the interplay of words, sentence after sentence, though I still prefer my novels in print. But that’s just a personal preference.)

And I’m not talking about enhanced e-books, which often mean no more than just some multimedia tacked onto the end. Adherents of e-books are constantly stressing the importance of breaking away from the concept of the printed page. Yet, the ePub reader on iPad uses a page concept & strongly reinforces the concept of the physical book (transplanted to the screen).

I’m interested in breaking away from the concept of the page & the physical book. But I’m not too interested in a lengthy stream of re-flowing text. The page, the physical book, & even the re-flowing text are all great in their own ways if you want is to read 80,000 words on a topic. But I seldom have that much time. But I am interested in learning. And don’t we read non-fiction because we want to learn?

Maybe I only need a stimulating 10,000 words arranged in even smaller, bite-sized chunks seasoned with imagery for obtaining an overview of a topic. A multi-touch screen allows me to interact with the content, furthering my retention of ideas. A playful, game-like component pulls me further into the narrative. (Remember, narratives don’t have to be linear or even textual.) I would buy such a product, a content app that started me along the journey of exploring an unfamiliar topic. I love to learn, I love to read. So what’s next: I would then purchase a more in-depth book on the topic (either in print or as an e-book).

Listen up publishers: you just sold me two separate products. Think about that.

How can digital media aid in learning about a topic in a visually engaging manner? That’s the challenge we should address in designing for the iPad. The iPad gets us a big step closer.

As I think about designing content for the iPad, I’m not thinking so much about ePub. I want to breakout of whatever constraints & restrictions imposed by the ePub rendering engine. The iPad provides a robust canvas. When I think of paid content on the iPad, I’m not just thinking e-books. I’m also thinking apps.

The app development environment for iPhone is superb and is the basis for the iPad SDK. There’s an NDA around the iPad SDK beta. So, no specifics here.

Here at sorodesign we are working to develop some apps for the iPhone & the iPad that revolve around content but are not at all what one would think of as e-books or even enhanced e-books. We’re experimenting. Designing for the iPhone & the iPad requires creativity. That’s exciting.

And what is required from all of us for devices like the iPhone, the iPad, & similar products from other vendors that will come along: new ways of writing, editing, designing, publishing, & reading.

By |January 28th, 2010|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , |20 Comments

How Book Design can Enhance Non-Fiction

Everyone wants an engaging book. Creating that engaging book is never a solitary endeavor.

Every writer needs an editor. Every book needs a designer.

Fiction narratives in print are generally all about text, unless it’s a graphic novel, a children’s book, or a novel by Sebald. (Actually, we recently did the illustrations for a work of literary fiction to be published by Holt in June 2010, but that’s another post). In designing a book of fiction, the book designer’s job is to present the text on the page in a way that is highly readable and without interrupting the reader’s experience of the story, or, in John Gardner’s words, “a vivid and continuous dream”.

But non-fiction almost always benefits from making the narrative more visual. Absent the hands of an extraordinary writer, non-fiction books often transport the reader not into a glorious dream but to a snoozefest (where the dream is probably something other than the book).

Making the narrative more visual doesn’t necessarily mean the use of images. It’s also about the use of white space & visualizing blocks of text on a page. (You’ll notice that writing for the Web is about much the same thing). Of course, decisions about chapter lengths, section sizes, etc., are the domain of the writer & editor, but book designers have a lot of latitude in how to present the text.

A friend recently gave us a set of three great books by Edward Tufte that came out in the 1990s: Envisioning Information, The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, & Visual Explanations: Images and Quantities, Evidence and Narrative.


Tufte gets to the heart of what book design is all about without talking specifically about book design: the arrangement of information on the page (or, increasingly, the screen as in the case of e-books).

By |December 29th, 2009|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , , |3 Comments


The primary tool of a book cover designer is Adobe Illustrator, but sometimes the design for a book starts best by hand.

Book Cover Design

Notice the yerba mate to the left (in the top image), just above the jar of ink and plumin: a telltale sign of the Argentine book cover designer at work.

A future post will show the full color concept that arose from this preliminary book cover design.

By |December 28th, 2009|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , |Comments Off on A BOOK COVER DESIGNER at Work

DESIGNING BOOKS: why we do it?

The end of year approaches, bringing that time to reflect on what it’s all about.

It’s easy to let the production aspects of any job overwhelm your daily work, whether it’s the deadline of completing tasks to deliver a book on time, mastering a particularly challenging feature of InDesign, selecting the best typeface for a specific project, or devising an attractive layout that presents the information on the page in an engaging manner. These are all elements that comprise the day-to-day occupation of a book designer.

Ultimately, our greatest satisfaction in designing books doesn’t come from any one activity. It’s all about the whole thing: the book, obviously. But it’s not about holding the book in our hands, viewing our design. For us, it’s all about providing the author with a superbly designed book, a book that the author loves, a book that brings the author’s vision and words to life on the page.

We’re thankful to our great clients who give us the opportunity everyday to design books.

Book layout that we're currently working on!

By |December 4th, 2009|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , |2 Comments

Book design: How to Take Photos that Move Houses

A great book that we designed last year is Ed Wolkis’ How to Take Photos That Move Houses. This full color book represents an example of the complex challenges in book design. Ceci is going to have a very in-depth post on the book design issues for this title. Meanwhile, head over to the book’s website and take a look at some sample pages from the book.

BTW, this book is not just for real estate professionals. It’s a fantastic book on photography for anyone.

By |September 30th, 2009|Categories: Book Design|Tags: , |Comments Off on Book design: How to Take Photos that Move Houses