1616: The plan

1616 - table of contents spread

I’m designing and typesetting my book as well as writing it. I requested this assignment from my publishers, and I’m glad they agreed. I felt that I know the book best, and I have the skills, so why not? The exception is the cover — I suggested they get a different designer to do that. I felt a fresh take might be beneficial there.

The publisher accepted the book on the basis of the preface, prologue, first two chapters, and a part of the third. That means I still have about 5/8ths or more of the book still to write. Above is the table of contents spread as it stands now. The trim size, which I suggested, is 7.25 x 10 inches. I didn’t want it to be so big that it seemed like an art book, but I wanted it to be bigger than the standard significant trade title, which is often around 6 x 9 or 6.25 x 9.25. There are a lot of images in my book, and a lot of material in the form of sidenotes (a favorite element, which I am also using extensively in the Bali catalogue I’m currently designing for the Asian Art Museum).

The image is a detail for a manuscript of the Razmnama (from 1616–1617). The Razmnama is a Persian translation of the Mahabharata, one of the great Hindu epics. I am trying to get a good diversity of different cultures represented in the book, since it represents a very global view of the year 1616. (I’m doing maps as globes from different perspectives — more on that later.)

Here’s the current TOC text close up. We’ll see how this changes a year from now when the final pages have to be delivered. The typeface is Garamond Premier Pro, my current favorite.

1616 - table of contents chapter by chapter

← Previous post

Next post →


  1. Jane Vandenburgh

    I’m so excited about this book, Tom. My book group is reading Don Quixote, everyone wants to be reading this as well– can’t wait! SO happy you’re doing this & I’m just thrilled that Counterpoint’s the publisher.

  2. Looks lovely. And I can’t wait to read it! It sounds so interesting.

  3. I’ve been talking about Garamond a lot lately–I’m working on a text-based bookmark using a straight-up Garamond but in varying sizes. Good to see that typeface getting some much-needed love.

  4. You are all very kind.

  5. Gorgeous. What splendid fun to be able to design one’s own book!

  6. Most people aren’t even aware that it exists, but if you see bad typesetting, you’ll know something is “off” about the publication you’re reading.