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3.8 out of 5 stars
Book Design (abrams studio)
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon January 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
In the last few years a new kind of website has appeared: one that allows the user to print books of their own material on line. There was always a so-called "vanity press" that would print up books for people who didn't want to or couldn't get major publisher to accept their book. However, the process usually cost several thousand dollars and resulted in a pile of several hundred books, many of which sat in the attic. The on-line publishers allow printing just one copy of a book and unless the book has many pages, charge well under $100.00.

The publishers usually provide templates for type and images into which one can drop material from one's computer and then format this data, before sending it to print. Even though I'm not a design professional, I felt there had to be some methods of layout that would help to tell one's story more effectively than others. For example, for a photography portfolio, pictures can either be surrounded by a frame or cover the entire page or have a frame on three sides and bleed off the page on a fourth, and so forth. Similarly, some type fonts and sizes should be better for a caption or a heading than others. I had read Robin Williams' "Non-Designer's Design Book, The (3rd Edition) (Non Designer's Design Book)" years ago, and while that helped me to understand some general principles of design, it didn't provide the depth of layout help which would allow me to lay out my own book more effectively without going to graphic design school.

As I searched the web for a recently published book that would show me how to lay out a book I wanted to create, I found "Book Design".

Haslam's book is divided into four parts, entitled "What is a book?"; "the book designer's pallet"; "type and image"; and "manufacture". Each of these parts was divided into chapters that focused on more specific areas. For example, the type and images part included a chapter on layout. The book is lavishly illustrated with charts explaining everything from how grids designs had been created to how books are bound. Images are provided of the interiors of coffee table books and the covers of paper backs. There is even a brief chapter that discusses the construction of pop-up books.

Occasionally my eyes glazed over, as when the author described Villard de Hannecourt's process for designing the ideal margins for a book page, but I found it useful to know that what seemed like such a simple task could actually be complex for a book designer. I also appreciated the well-conceived glossary and the list of recommended readings.

Although lavishly designed and illustrated, the book is more descriptive than prescriptive. If you want to see how the book production process works, without sinking yourself into too much detail, this is a fine book. If on the other hand you are looking for some help in actually creating a book, you will have to look elsewhere. The author offered no practical advice. For me to get that help, so far, has meant looking at other books similar to the one I wanted to produce, deciding what layout features I liked and disliked in those books, trying to understand why, and then trying to apply whatever rules I managed to extract to my own book.

I am astonished that a more practical book doesn't exist but I suspect I just haven't found it. I'll keep searching and report back. In the meantime, some publisher should pay attention.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 2007
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
When I opened this book and saw how slick and enticing it was, I was afraid that it might be just about the graphics side of book design. I wanted a technical book that provided a thorough coverage of the subject. I was not disappointed, however. This book gives a great treatment with clear, beautiful drawings that cover every subject from the aesthetics of page layout to mechanics of printing.

If you want to really understand book design then I highly recommend this wonderful book. Every page is delightful and yet full of important information.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on March 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
While there are many, many design books and references available that contain most of the information in this book, this is the first time I've found such a good synthesis of content in one place. The order and organization of the book is extremely well thought out and logical, and the writing is excellent. I'm so happy to have found this book-- as a designer it's a wonderful reference, reinforcement, and source for learning. Definitely recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on March 31, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Although more for professional designers then I expected, I learned what I needed from this thorough book. I wanted enough information to lay out and understand design of my own books and found clear details and principles. However, this book has complete data for readers seeking far more than I was. A valuable future reference, I think.
Geni J. White
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on April 28, 2010
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
I bought this book based on the reviewers' comments. However, there is no notice that this book is not for beginners. It may be instructional, but it requires knowledge that the average reader does not have. It would be useful for those looking for such a book to know this.

I decided to write this review for the benefit of others who may look at this book. I found parts useful, but I think another book would have been more useful.

---------------
NOTE: Since this review I found a book much better suited for beginners at design. It is The Non-Designer's Design Book (3rd Edition)by Robin Williams. Perhaps eventually new designers could appreciate this book by Haslam.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 29, 2008
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
All you need to know when designing a book can be found in this one!
Higly recomended!!! A lot of theory. A lot of visual examples.
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on April 23, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
If you only looked at the Amazon preview, you could be forgiven for thinking that this is little more than a pretty coffee table book or a designer's "swipe book". But this book is not a lightweight vanity project, at all. Instead, it is crammed full of information and reference material for the book designer and anyone else who has to use type and images (which is pretty much any visual designer). Everything is covered here from the basics to the more advanced. There is even a section on how the reader's eye will flow across variously styled pages.

Everything is well illustrated. Every principle is dealt with in depth. And book design is covered in every form I can imagine. I, for one, was pleasantly surprised when I opened this book.

This book covers everything you would need know about book design. However, execution is beyond its scope. You will not learn to manufacture a book (that is book making) or how to use the software of your choice. Book Design is for readers who already have a interest in these things with serious intentions beyond a simple vanity press publication.

I would particularly recommend this book for students. It can easily serve as a design textbook for now and a valuable reference in the future.
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on November 7, 2012
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
The book went very thoroughly through the book design process, both initial creation and final development as well as production.

Very easy to read
interesting use of text to illustrate terms and concepts
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on June 9, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is the kind of books that have everything... Although the layout of the book itself is a little overwhelming and rigid, the information there is super valuable.
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on February 11, 2013
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This typography book is remarkable. It is the bible of typography books. If you just started learning book making this book by Andrew Haslam is a must have!
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