The Design and Lithography of Books (part 1)
Last Saturday I went to a very interesting talk on self-publishing at the Society of Authors in Manchester.
Geoff Fisher (who is a sales manager at Antony Rowe, a printing firm which specialises in books) is clearly a man who loves the printed page. He relishes the old names of the fonts (e.g. Helvetica, Times New Roman), and the sizes of books (e.g. large crown Octavo)
He gave us some interesting facts about the process of printing.
Litho or digital
For print runs of over 300 then the litho method is the best; but it costs just as much to reprint each time. The litho method is also good for grey-shading and there are greater binding options. It is best to use multiples of 32 pages.
Digital is the preferred option for print runs less than 300. It is not so good for shading but better for colour, and the range of paper used is more limited.
Estimating the correct print run is essential. He suggested doing a pilot run of the book in digital print to assess the market before committing to litho.
Enhancing the book
The book should be given to the printer as a pdf
Colour is good if used wisely, and these together with black and white images should be chosen with care.
Paper is 30-60% the cost of the book and it is essential to take advice on this and to see samples.
Laminating the cover enhances the look of the book as do coloured end papers, head and tail bands (which are inexpensive).
It is best to stick to serif typefaces (those with embellishments at the ends of lines) e.g. antiqua, or century.
Sans serif e.g. ariel, should be avoided.
Chapter headings should take up half a page and should preferably be on the right hand page.
Lines of type should not be too wide (7-10 words per line) and should not be too close together.
Margins and other white spaces are also important.
Geoff Fisher recommends that to get a good-looking product an author should work with a student of printing. It will give good practice to the student and a superior product to the author.
To be continued (including advice on P.O.D.)