Show DN: Redesigning an Obscure Book

almost 4 years ago from , Maker

I'm a fan of this obscure author, Charles Williams - but all his books in print are just embarrassing - cheaply printed, terribly designed, generally unrespectable. You'd never want to give one as a gift, and you might feel weird about carrying them on a train.

So, with some funding from the author's literary society, we designed nice copies. They've got respectable type, generous margins, sized right in that sweet spot. I'm really happy with how these turned out: they're the copies we always wanted to exist, and now they're real!


  • JC .JC ., almost 4 years ago

    do you have any before and after images? Also approx. how long was the project from start to finish?

    2 points
    • Matt Kirkland, almost 4 years ago

      Hmm, no real before / after. But the project was about 8 months from the idea to shipping - but 4-6 months of that was negotiating funding, rights, production, etc!

      0 points
  • Ray SensebachRay Sensebach, almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

    Nice work! I'd love to hear more about the process behind this. InDesign? Where/how were they printed and how are you distributing now?

    2 points
    • , almost 4 years ago

      Yeah, it was a mix of doing the initial page layouts in illustrator to proof out the type selections, chapter heads, etc. Then moved it all into indesign to create the final files, and just a billion rounds of proofreading!

      They're printed here in the US, at a nice shop up in Michigan. It's real offset printing, with black and 1 PMS color throughout. There's some custom stamping for the covers (a blind deboss and then a foil emboss hit), and a custom full-bleed endpaper.

      Then I'm doing the distribution myself; we did a small run of just 500 copies, so it's pretty manageable. Mostly single copies sold directly, but some small bulk orders for bookstores.

      5 points
      • Gareth PriceGareth Price, almost 4 years ago

        Fantastic work.

        I would love to know some of the details about the design– what typeface etc did you use? What went into the decisions behind details like that?

        1 point
        • Matt Kirkland, almost 4 years ago

          Sure; most of the design decisions came down to what I like as a reader - so the first order of business is big comfortable page margins, so there's room to scribble your notes.

          The body type is set in Quadraat Pro. It came down to doing probably 50 different versions of a sample spread, and reading through them for comfort and speed. And then repeating that process for a whole chapter, etc.

          There's some subhead type (chapter heads, etc) set in Brandon Grotesque, tracked out so it looks all fancy.

          I also made an icon set for the endpapers; one semi-abstract icon for each of the author's seven novels, and hopefully we'll get to print them all.

          4 points
          • Dan MooreDan Moore, almost 4 years ago

            that is really interesting, nice work! Would you care to share the icon set you've made as well?

            0 points
            • Matt Kirkland, almost 4 years ago

              Oh, sure. It's hardly a 'set', since they couldn't be used for anything but these few books. And I wanted them to be a bit obscure; they make sense to people who have read the books, but otherwise I wanted them to just feel just slightly occult-y.

              Here's the set from one of the site background images: http://cwlibrary.com/img/gradient-bg.jpg

              0 points
      • Yitong ZhangYitong Zhang, almost 4 years ago

        This is only semi-related, but I noticed that most books are willing to hyphenate words at the end of the line to achieve a more flush right side, but this is seldom done on the Internet, even in long form articles. Any reason for this?

        0 points
        • Viktor H., almost 4 years ago

          I can see a few reasons for this:

          • Browser support for CSS hyphens is scarce on desktop and virtually nonexistent on mobile. (MDN article) I believe this has something to do with the readily available hyphenation dictionaries on different platforms.
          • On web pages both content and layout tend to be dynamic/responsive, so it's very hard to control the presentation. This is crucial when using justified lines because hyphenation and line breaks usually need to be adjusted manually to avoid awkward situations like rivers in the text.
          • Ragged text helps the readability of long lines. Most web content is considered to have long lines in both character count and absolute length according to typographic conventions. (Try setting text-align: justify; on a Medium article and see it for yourself.)
          1 point
  • Josh Warner, almost 4 years ago

    I'd also really love to hear how this was done.

    1 point
  • Carlyn Hill, almost 4 years ago

    This is so cool! They say don't judge a book by its cover, but lets be honest, a bad cover isnt helping anyone. This is really awesome, your covers look amazing. Great work!

    0 points
  • Dirk HCM van BoxtelDirk HCM van Boxtel, almost 4 years ago

    No word on (costs of) shipping to Australia on the site?

    0 points
    • Andrew Parker, almost 4 years ago (edited almost 4 years ago )

      Looks like its $20 USD? I had a similar experience - as soon as I see a price in dollars I look for a page link (usually in the footer) to explain shipping fees to the UK. The only way of finding shipping costs at the moment is to add the book to your basket then select your country in the checkout dropdown.

      Nice work on the book though - looks great!

      0 points
  • David KlawitterDavid Klawitter, almost 4 years ago

    This is wonderful Matt! Very nice.

    0 points