Book Design Fundamentals

The following is a series of blog posts on book design fundamentals.

Frankly, there is a lot of bad book design out there. I’ve certainly committed my fair share of design sins—I suppose it is part of the learning process. Luckily, if you know a few of the basics, it is easy to dress up that former MS Word manuscript and get a publication that doesn’t hurt the eyes of readers and, worse, interfere with the message of the content.

With a book, we want the design to disappear. Or, put another way, we want the book design to create a fluid relationship between the reader and the material. This is often easier said than done. It takes thought, time, and intention to design a book beyond paving a page with words and pictures.

The first step in designing a book is to understand the author, the content, and the audience. What emotions, feelings, and sensations do these conjure? And how can we reflect these in the design of the book, from the trim size to the cover design to the layout of the pages? Here’s a tip: visit a bookstore and thumb through a hundred or more books. What did the book designers get right? And what book design fundamentals did they fail? Notice that the big, corporate book publishers don’t always have the best book designs!

Book design has a rich history that stretches into antiquity. Amazing! The following posts contain some book design fundamentals and a few best practices in book design. There are also some good external resources. Wikipedia has a basic primer. Several good resource books are referenced in our blog posts.

The Articles on Book Design Fundamentals

The Modern Book: The Legacy of Jan Tschichold and Paul Renner

Elements of Book Design: The Grid

The Iterative Process of Book Cover Creation

The Basics of Book Binding Types

Creating Elegant eBooks for Academics and Students

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