concept to publication

Month: February 2010

World book news: 13 rules for writers

10 rules for writers

Today I initiate what I am hoping will become a more or less weekly feature here at — a report on book news from newspapers and journals around the world. (I say “more or less weekly” because I am currently working on a big project that is taking most of my time, and this has reduced my blogging, which had been steadily daily up for years until a few months ago; more on that project in time.)

I think I will eventually move this feature to Thursdays. My plan is to spotlight one interesting story selected from a variety of sources of world book news, include a screen shot linking to the original, and briefly recap or comment on the story. Please let me know if this would be of interest, and I would love to hear suggestions regarding international sources I should include when looking for stories (in my languages: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian).

Today’s story may be a little different from most because it’s more of an entertaining feature than news about book publishing or authors and books. It’s a fun story from the Guardian (London), which surveys a number of writers — Elmore Leonard, Diana Athill, Margaret Atwood, Roddy Doyle, Helen Dunmore, Geoff Dyer, Anne Enright, Richard Ford, Jonathan Franzen, Esther Freud, Neil Gaiman, David Hare, PD James, AL Kennedy — and asks them to list 10 tips for writers.

Trilby, Allumi, Calluna, Giorgio, Leksa, Sentinel, Catacumba

Who or what are Trilby, Allumi, Calluna, Giorgio, Leksa, and Catacumba?

a. Captains of vessels in the fleet of the early seventeenth-century Dutch adventurer Joris van Spilbergen.

b. Winning dogs in the hunting dog category at the Westminster Kennel Club dog show.

c. Characters in a new Star Trek television series to be released next fall.

d. Other.

. . .

. . .

. . .

The answer, of course, is “other” — these are some of the best typefaces of 2009, in the opinion of I Love Typography. Another favorite from this set is the amazingly extensive (and expensive) Trilogy, shown below. An interesting selection, worth checking out (the type sample is clickable).

Polls are wonderful

A new New York Times/CBS News poll finds that 70 percent of Americans support gays and lesbians serving in the military.

But only 59 percent support the same for homosexuals.

Publish and perish

Having completed my scriptorium and tabularium and got my books somewhat organized, I found myself with a bunch of duplicates and some other books I no longer needed. So I gave some away and boxed a bunch more up to exchange at a used bookstore.

At the store the buyer rejected most of the books (as is to be expected). Then she “softened” her rejection with the condescending concession (and I quote) “It’s good stuff. It’s just stuff whose time has passed.” So there you have it, laid out as starkly as could be: books as a perishable commodity!

I was tempted to look pointedly around the store and then reply, “Oh, I know. That’s why I’m replacing them with a Kindle.”

But I wouldn’t do that.


Image from origamidon’s photostream


Venice book tower

This house on the beach in Venice, California, has no doors (on its upper story), and the walls are made up of bookshelves and storage units.

Read about it at BLDG BLOG.

J. D. Salinger

Now that he’s passed away everybody who has ever read a book is writing about him. Enough! I call time out!

Rag or justified?

rag or justified? These are preliminary design pages for a new book about the art of Bali. The font is Garamond Premier Pro. The image is a cool piece by I Ketut Ngendon (1903–1948) called Goodbye and Good Luck to Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, 1938 (Batuan, Bali. Ink on paper. Mary Catherine Bateson).

The pages are the same, except that in one spread the main text block is ragged and in the other it is justified. I’m curious which version people prefer.

Inigo Jones FTW

Back in the Jacobean period, the early seventeenth century, Shakespeare was seeming a bit old-fashioned to the lord and ladies in the expensive seats. They wanted a little pomp and spectacle — well, a lot of pomp and spectacle actually — and they got it in the form of the court masque. The masques were little dramas that combined song and dances and a lot of stage machinery that allow gods and goddesses to descend from the heights. The stage machinery was usually designed by the king’s architect, Inigo Jones. The words were usually written by the foremost playwright of the day, Ben Jonson. Inigo and Ben had a falling out: Jonson said the words were the most important thing in a masque, but Jones said they were secondary to the spectacle.

I’ve never been a big fan of the Grammys, but I watched some of it this year. Talk about big productions! (Tacky, but big.) Clearly the Jones school of thought has triumphed.


Image (detail) via USA Today, “Pink Sings, Spins, Sprays”


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