Inside Inside Book Publishing – by David Williams

The design of the book was rethought for the fourth edition, and carried through into the fifth edition and other Routledge titles such as Inside Magazine Publishing. Here David Williams writes about his creation of the new look:

Angus and Giles asked me to write something about how we all – publisher (editorial and production), authors, designer and copy-editor – arrived at the final result in the book as published. Turning a typescript into the inherently intractable codex (paged) form that is communicative, commercial and beautiful is a complex and skilled job that has been – with this book – particularly enjoyable and satisfying.

First of all we received a brief from Sue Dixon in the Production department at Taylor & Francis. We were delighted to get the commission because in my company, The Running Head Limited, we have a special interest in books about books. We are what some people call project managers, which in our case means we in-house copy-edit, design, typeset and deal with the authors at every stage between approved typescript and PDF files ready for printing. We like to think this integrated and holistic approach gives our work more creative spark than the usual atomized division of labour into separate stages.

Sue had told us that T&F wanted to publish to a university/postgraduate-level textbook market. Following a style volume, Introducing Sociolinguistics, the layout was to have two columns, plus ‘logos’ and ‘icons’ to give visual variety and help readers browse or skim read different kinds of topics in boxes.

In-house in Cambridge I decided (along with colleagues Carole Drummond and Kit Scorah) that we were going to show off a bit, not just because it was a chance to promote the company to potential customers – once they had landed their jobs in publishing – but because it was genuinely appropriate for the book. I thought that readers would be keenly interested in how publishers actually do what Angus and Giles say they do.

The first problem was that the first run-in of the typescript into rough pages made well over 350 pages – the brief said 224. My first thought was that the space reserved solely for the ‘sidebars’ column in the finished book was just too generous. On my own initiative, to reduce empty space I then did a layout with two columns of equal width, to bring the extent down to about 256 pages. T&F decided to stick with their original brief and allow 320 pages instead.

By now sample pages were looking fairly settled, though we had not yet put much thought into the logos or icons – the ‘Web resources’ logo was inane clipart from the web, and all the topic boxes just had a grey blob. (I am using ‘logo’ to refer to the Now read this/Sources/Web resources lists, and ‘icon’ for the Expert/Skills/Topic boxes.)

Sue had briefed us to use Scala, as suggested by Angus. Scala has a stylish classic but contemporary look with quite thick serifs that print well. It also has an attractive sans variant, which gives lots of options where there are boxes, so they are differentiated but still part of a unity.

As Angus and Giles say in the book, the skill of publishing is to add value – I am proud that we have been able to help make the book a textbook example of itself.

David Williams
Managing Director, The Running Head Limited


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