Critique of book layout... subject economic philosophy

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Michael Byrnes's picture
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Joined: 28 Nov 2012 - 11:13am
Critique of book layout... subject economic philosophy
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I'm getting to the final stages of writing a book on economic philosophy. The central thesis: human societies have experienced only three basic "fields" of socio-economic behavior: agriculture/mining, mass production, and services; mass human labor is no longer needed in these three fields; a new fourth economy is necessary.

I am attempting to set the format and type in InDesign, and would appreciate a critique (knowing full well there will be a wide variety of opinions). My interest is to put out the best, most readable design possible.

In InDesign, page dimensions: 22.86 cm (9 in) x 15.24 cm (6 in)... basically, a somewhat standard book size.
Margins are set to: 2.18 cm Top/Bottom and 1.12 cm Inside and 3.12 cm Outside (simple footnotes are in the outside margins, as well as page numbers).

I've had a devil of a time choosing a typeface. I wanted to get away from the standard Garamond, Baskerville, etc. types, but still formal for a book subject as economic philosophy. I seem to be hovering over the new release of ITC New Veljovic... the spacing is very generous, making the complex subject of philosophy a bit easier on the eye. My second choice was Brioni (Typotheque), which has a larger x-height. Third and fourth choice was Malabar and Plantin. My technical safe fallback is Canada Type's Aragon ST (although I am a bit peeved at CT for other reasons). I really tried using Nick Shinn's wonderful Richler, but some folks thought it was just a little too colorful for the subject of philosophy. Using FF Clan for sans highlights and charts/graphs, etc.

I attach 2 pdfs (a few selected pages), one with ITC New Veljovic Regular (11 pt / 13.8 pt leading, Metric kerning) and the other with Brioni Light (10.5 / 13.8... and with Brioni, I've committed the dual sins of using 10pt tracking with optical kerning due to Brioni being so tightly spaced)... footnote numbers use opentype features of sups, rather than InDesign manually adjusting the font... the public book version is really an abridged version of the larger book, (the larger book uses more complex mathematical and quantum physics equations, which I've edited out of the abridged version for easier reading by the masses). So I need a typeface with really sophisticated capabilities with alpha-numeric sups/subs, etc... (hence the typeface choices).

The typeface used for the cover is Greta Display.

Here a couple of mockups, and the 2 pdf files are below:

http://s7.postimg.org/6ktty6mwr/WBNcover_v4_Mockup_Closeup.png

http://s16.postimg.org/4z3pdxg51/WBNcover_v4_Mockup.png

http://s22.postimg.org/ok40774pt/WBN_insidepages_titlepage.png

http://s12.postimg.org/6a2v713cd/WBN_inside_veljovic.png

PDF sample using ITC New Veljovic
http://ge.tt/8KB6Ww92/v/0?c

PDF sample using Brioni
http://ge.tt/6uv7Xw92/v/0?c

Again, thanks for any critique/suggestions...

Michael

Peiran Tan's picture
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Joined: 11 Dec 2012 - 2:51am
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Have you thought of paying tribute to Adam Smith? I guess that’s what the title is trying to do.

Michael Byrnes's picture
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Joined: 28 Nov 2012 - 11:13am
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Thanks @GrubStreet for the observation. Indeed, the foundation of the book is to persistently make comparisons between the socio-economic paradigms existing in the 1800s versus the present. My first Ph.D. thesis (Hegelian Dialectics) was five years in the making. I took an unusual route. On the side, I studied Gestalt therapy. My oral argument, lasting 9 full hours, was "playing" in a Gestalt method: I as Adam Smith in one chair would have a dialogue with myself as Thomas Aquinas sitting in the facing chair. So yes, the title of Wealth Beyond Nations is an extremely specific choice.

J. Tillman's picture
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Joined: 27 Sep 2009 - 11:31am
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How is this being printed? Paperback or hardcover? Print on demand or offset or other? I see the picture looks hardcover.

MARGINS

The thing that jumped out at me was your inner margin, less than half an inch. I do not have experience setting hardcover books, but this seems small. Look at similar books in the bookstore or library to be sure your text will not dip into the gutter. Have you consulted with the printer on this? Also, on my screen it seemed that your left and right pages have a different inner margin. If it's paperback, the inner margin is much too small.

Re: the outer margin. How close is the text (footnotes) to the edge of the book? Is your printer okay with this?

COVER

If you are selling or marketing your book on the internet, the cover has to look good at internet sizes. Specifically this is postage stamp and a half size for Amazon. A similar size will be used by internet reviewers. Don't let this be a surprise. Check it out.

I had difficulty telling that the graphic is a torch. Maybe this is because of the arty angled photo of the cover, but get some feedback on this.

FONTS

I much preferred the Brioni text. You called the spacing of the Veljovic "generous", but I just call it "loose". To my eyes and brain it is too loose.

Since you have adjusted the spacing of the fonts, you should ask yourself whether it reads better without the ff and ffi ligatures. Remember, it's not an art contest; you just want to know if it reads better.

Your title page looks great.

It is all just my opinion.

Michael Byrnes's picture
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Joined: 28 Nov 2012 - 11:13am
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J. Tillman, thanks very much for the input...

... I've made some fundamental changes:

1. Changing the "sidenotes" to conventional footnotes... this frees up the seemingly impossible task to cramming everything to a 6 x 9 format, (effective margins, body text, and sidenotes)...

2. Thus, inside and outside margins are equal at 2 cm. BTW, this "abridged version" is probably going to be about 75 - 80 pages. The full version will be about double this... so the new margins of 2 cm should be workable.

3. Reverted to Brioni for the body text... 10.5 / 13.8 / 10 pt tracking / optical kerning / ligatures are off / hyphenation is 3 characters (after first / before last)

So, here are a couple sample pages of the changed format:
http://ge.tt/5Nm4F0A2/v/0?c

This abridged version most likely to be printed paperback. Not sure, yet, about the full version of the book.

Will focus more energy toward the cover (art) after I nail down the text... personally, I would like for the cover to be as simple as possible... will probably lose the torch... in its present design, I was initially envisioning a textured hardcover (hence, the textured tile look)... but a paperback format will probably force using simple flat colors...

Again, thanks for your observations... hope this comes closer to being readable...

Cheers,

Michael

Les O'Neill's picture
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Joined: 15 Jan 2014 - 5:05am
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With fully justified text like this I'd be tempted to use ID's 'optical margin alignment'. I know it's not everyone's cup of tea but I think it does a reasonable job of 'squaring' up the text block (which presumably is the point of full justification).

James Michaels's picture
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Joined: 6 Mar 2010 - 12:54am
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I assume this is a self-published book. It looks like a debossed cover; be aware that this will raise printing costs. Also it looks like the bottom word ("Nations") has no color in it. I'd recommend putting at least a slight tint in it, otherwise it'll be difficult to read under some lighting conditions (particularly the first and last letters which don't have a background image behind them).

If it will be sold in bookstores, you might consider adding some color to the cover; a black-and-white cover may look a little dull compared to colorful covers next to it (but you can keep it subtle).

Also I'd try to pick a printer who'll allow you to be there during printing to inspect and sign off on the cover and at least some of the inside pages. You don't want to find out that you're unhappy with the printing after the job is all done. Also you'll want to inspect some of the books to make sure the pages are in the proper order; even a good printer can occasionally make mistakes.

J. Tillman's picture
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Joined: 27 Sep 2009 - 11:31am
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Re: Brioni sample 2 ... I like it. This is off-track a little, but I think that the italic of Brioni is very appropriate for the way this book uses italic.

I would say increase the inner margin a little bit, and decrease the outer margin by the same amount. I am saying this based on one blog post, which is specifically about print-on-demand books.
http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2013/08/book-layouts-page-margins/
Joel discusses the inner and outer margin toward the end of the post, and explains more in his comment with TLynn. You can see if you think it applies to your situation.

I am curious. Does your book have subheadings?

Michael Byrnes's picture
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Joined: 28 Nov 2012 - 11:13am
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@J.Tillman... again, thanks for the suggestions and questions. Interesting question about subheadings... in the larger book, yes... will need subheadings (and occasionally, sub-subheadings) due to the various "ingredients" or tangents of an argument... but in the abridged version, I've tried to keep the argument "flowing" from one thought to another. Below, is a sample chapter from the abridged version (it focuses on our mis-understandings of how economics functions, such as the creation of money).

Once the text is nailed down, in InDesign, will create layers for additional formats, such as ebook, etc... I have a suspicion that I may use subheadings in an ebook version... (I need to read the EULA for Typotheque and FontFont types... I assume, though, I will either need a separate license or will have to use different types in the ebook version).

Cheers, and again, thanks for the input.

Sample chapter PDF
http://ge.tt/69b10AA2/v/0?c

Anthony Barnett's picture
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Joined: 11 Feb 2015 - 2:16am
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In your mock up you are using italic on the spine. But when a book stands upright on the shelf the eye does not easily read a downward sloping italic, although most publishers are blind to this. In France, for example, where the standard spine, unlike UK/US, reads bottom to top, italic is fine because the eye is reading upwards. Were I President of the Republic, spine text running top to bottom would be forbidden, along with such as instant coffee (insult to the coffee bean), white chocolate, cricket. Doubtless my head would soon be rolling. At least, in top to bottom running spine text, no italic. In addition, I also find loosely spaced italic, as on your front cover, undesirable. Loose spacing generally works best in caps and small caps.

Tatiana Marza's picture
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Joined: 8 Jan 2013 - 3:27am
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Hello, Michael.
I had a quick view on your files.
1. The inner margins are very small indeed. I would almost double them.
2. The pictures. You may try to set a rule. For example, all pictures will be at the bottom, or top of the page. Thus, you'll have a more uniform "image". If you think this is too difficult, or you don't like the idea, perhaps would help to divide the page into horizontal frames and try to set images within those frames/lines and you'll have the same height for most of images.
Also, fig. 1 seems like a neighbor who came without invitation. Since the place belongs to it, give it some more space from top.
Regarding the fonts, will write tomorrow.