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terrie
08-11-2009, 11:17 AM
I'd just finished reading A Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T. E. Lawrence (John E. Mack, ISBN: 0316542296) which is excellent and I started to read Lawrence of Arabia, The Authorized Biography of T. E. Lawrence (Jeremy Wilson, ISBN: 0020826621) and there as aspects of the book design that are so annoying that I may not do more than dip into the book here and there rather than reading it from cover to cover.

1. The text is set justified (flush right) which I find makes it harder to scan the line I'm reading.

2. It appears to be the UK edition given the spelling and the use of single quote marks--apropos of Mike's thread (http://www.desktoppublishingforum.com/bb/showthread.php?t=6642)--which I find visually odd and somewhat distracting as I keep looking for the outer/master double quote mark.


I'm sure I could used to these two things but it's the strangeness of the footnotes that I find most annoying. It took me until page 13 to realize there are no footnote numbers following quotes (I guess I was distracted by the use of single quote marks...'-}}).

Wilson goes to some length in his proglogue to discuss his research for the book and his use of pertinent government papers many of which became available for the first time in 1968--the book is copyrighted 1989 and mine is the 1992 edition. He states that he has spent 10 years gathering contemporary (to Lawrence's life) documents such that:

"I have used extensive quotations, and the essential points can be seen to rest everywhere on contemporary evidence rather than on some theory of my own. Individual extracts were chosen for a number of different reasons. The first was to give authority to the factual record; the second, to illustrate Lawrence's values, aims, motivation and critical judgment, and to show how he was assessed by his contemporaries." (Prologue, page XXV, Lawrence of Aratia, the Authorized Biography of T. E. Lawrence, Jeremy Wilson, Collier Books, 1992 edition)

And yet...there are no footnote numbers in the text!

There is a References and Notes section at the back of the book--very common approach and perfectly acceptable to me--but the design, particularly for a book that purports to be the final and authorized word on Lawrence's life, is just gawdawful--see the attached scan.

Wilson makes mention (often) of the "general reader" and it appears that he doesn't trust that this person has any degree of sophistication and intelligence which makes me (as a non-specialist, general reader) less than trusting of Wilson's writing and wondering whether it's worth reading his book.

I don't think that this book design is due to it originating in the UK or the differences between UK and US approaches to design. I think it's just crappy design?

Terrie

ktinkel
08-11-2009, 12:50 PM
I don't think that this book design is due to it originating in the UK or the differences between UK and US approaches to design. I think it's just crappy design?Most prose works (fiction or non-fiction) are set in justified lines, for better or worse. English and North American typographic styles differ, as do spelling, bits and pieces of vocabulary, and some aspects of grammar, but you should be able to adapt to the conventions within a chapter. (You should read more English mysteries — that is where I learned to read English-style English!)

It looks to me that they ran out of space for the footnotes; I would have put each page reference on a new line, myself. But it appears he has extensive quotes from a few references, and I think the endnotes would have been repetitious, too numerous, and seriously annoying.

Hard to evaluate the book design or quality of the typography from your snapshot of the index, but the lines look a bit too wide (and the margins evidently too small) for easy readability. There is also a lot of space in the lines (recognizing that this is not normal text), especially between initials in names but also the inter-word spacing. Combined with the typestyle — and in the notes, the frequent bold and italics — as well as the leading, the clumsy spacing makes the page look choppy and rough, which is always distracting.

These flaws are hardly unique to the English — publishers everywhere often try to save a signature (or two) by squeezing more type than fits decently on a page.

annc
08-11-2009, 12:58 PM
...publishers everywhere often try to save a signature (or two) by squeezing more type than fits decently on a page.And that's at its worst in the large print we buy, where margins are sacrificed in an attempt to keep the weight of the book down for arthritic hands. But they almost always fail to allow any hyphens, for some reason, so the word spaces are often huge and irritating. And they'd get a lot more words on a page if they did use some decent hyphenation.

ktinkel
08-11-2009, 02:44 PM
And that's at its worst in the large print we buy, where margins are sacrificed in an attempt to keep the weight of the book down for arthritic hands. But they almost always fail to allow any hyphens, for some reason, so the word spaces are often huge and irritating. And they'd get a lot more words on a page if they did use some decent hyphenation.I have yet to see a well-made, easy-to-read large-type book. I don’t think they put a penny more than they can avoid in producing them — probably have the night watchman spit them out in between their rounds! Poor or lousy hyphenation, no compensation for type size in the leading or line width, skinny margins. And I think they make the type larger than most readers need so the text is even harder to read.

I tried some when my cataracts got bad, and formed a powerfully negative feeling about those books.

Howard Allen
08-11-2009, 03:39 PM
Looks like something written by a researcher for researchers. Last summer I read a biography of Robert Hooke that was good and *very* thorough, but that thoroughness made it painful to read—it had endnotes and seemingly dozens of notes per page, requiring two bookmarks: one for where you're reading, and one for the endnotes section. The constant flipping back and forth just about made me dizzy.

Michael Rowley
08-11-2009, 04:15 PM
Terrie:
I started to read Lawrence of Arabia, The Authorized Biography of T. E. LawrenceThat book was published in 1992, apparently as a paperback, which is most unusual for a biography and probably accounts for the low standard of the publication (who's the publisher, Ann?). The lines are far too wide; the space after the full point is far too wide, but it may follow the rule for bibliographies of the sort you sent the thumbnail of. I'd never heard of the author: he's not, I think, one of the better known biographers..

The typographical conventions may be strange to you, but I cannot expect the book to have been published in the USA too. You seem strangely sensitive to matters that are often discussed in this forum—they're important to those that set books—but are not bothersome to readers. The only thing that troubled me as a small boy was what Zane Grey meant by 'laffed'. (I didn't know about northen English or American pronunciation.)

According to Amazon, the RRP was £10.33, but second-hand copies cost £10 or more: Amazon's price is £30!

terrie
08-11-2009, 04:33 PM
kt: Most prose works (fiction or non-fiction) are set in justified lines, for better or worse.I could live with it but, at least in this particular book, it's annoying...'-}}


>> English and North American typographic styles differ, as do spelling, bits and pieces of vocabulary, and some aspects of grammar

Oh definitely and I have no problem with the fact that it's not been "converted" to US spellings/vocab/grammar but I wanted to describe the book more completely...


>>It looks to me that they ran out of space for the footnotes

Perhaps that's it. One thing I forgot to mention which may be of significance is that the book is "Abridged by Author" which I doubt I noticed when I bought this many years ago (probably in 1992) because I don't buy "abridged" books and his rationale is that his original approach (not sure if this version was ever published) was 1200 pages because he wrote quite a bit about the history of the Middle East in/around the WWI timeframe and perhaps that's why the footnotes are so nasty...'-}}


>>I would have put each page reference on a new line, myself.

YES!!! They really are impossible to make heads or tails of as presented...


>>But it appears he has extensive quotes from a few references, and I think the endnotes would have been repetitious, too numerous, and seriously annoying.

I have no problem with the notes being placed at the back of the book--it's very common and I have gotten the knack of flipping back and forth between the text and the notes. The problem I have with the book as presented is that he goes to great pains to describe how deeply he researched this book and why it was important to approach researching as he did and then basically blows it off--why should I trust his writing when the footnotes that I would use to determine the source of this information are so difficult to follow?


>>Hard to evaluate the book design or quality of the typography from your snapshot of the index, but the lines look a bit too wide (and the margins evidently too small) for easy readability.

The gutter is a bit narrow but the outer margin (correct term?) is rather wide and the text is probably at least 13 perhaps 14pt and combined with it being justified, it's an odd read--I can scan a text page if you'd like to see it...


>> There is also a lot of space in the lines (recognizing that this is not normal text), especially between initials in names but also the inter-word spacing.

The inter-word spacing in the primary text is similar and actually somewhat difficult to read and I thought that was because of it being justified?


>>the clumsy spacing makes the page look choppy and rough, which is always distracting.

Yes!


>> These flaws are hardly unique to the English — publishers everywhere often try to save a signature (or two) by squeezing more type than fits decently on a page.

I don't think I've ever run across it so blatantly in what generally would be considered a "nice" book--even if it's paperbound...

Thanks...

Terrie

terrie
08-11-2009, 04:42 PM
howard: Looks like something written by a researcher for researchers. That is not my take on this book at all. I think any serious researcher would find it lacking primarily because it's so difficult to figure out what (foot) note goes with which quote...ugh!'-}}


>>The constant flipping back and forth just about made me dizzy.

LOL!! I don't know why, but I don't find that a problem. I generally scan the footnotes for a chapter/section before reading the chapter/section and make a mental note (LOL! no pun intended!) of the footnote number if the footnote is more than just a reference as to the source--sometimes a footnote has a deeper explanation and I always read them (after I've read the text that is footnoted) because it adds to my understanding...

Terrie

terrie
08-11-2009, 04:49 PM
michael: I'd never heard of the author: he's not, I think, one of the better known biographers..He's well known for this paticular book but I don't know much about him other than that--I'm going to do a browser search and see if I can find any reviews...


>>but I cannot expect the book to have been published in the USA too

It was published by Collier Books which (at the time at least) is/was a subsidiary of MacMillan Publishing Company and the book was pub'd in the US not in the UK...


>>You seem strangely sensitive to matters that are often discussed in this forum

"Strangely"? This is a dtp forum so why would it be "strange" for me to be sensitive to how books are designed?

Oh Wait!!!

Sorry...I'm a little slow on the uptake these days...that was supposed to be a joke...LOL!! Good one...'-}}


>>but are not bothersome to readers.

I'm a reader and they bother me! This isn't some throw away book that one reads in a few hours--a Zane Grey book for example. Just because it's paperbound doesn't mean that it should be any less well designed than a hardbound book.

Terrie

ktinkel
08-11-2009, 05:53 PM
Just because it's paperbound doesn't mean that it should be any less well designed than a hardbound book.Amen! There is no reason (beyond penny-pitching) for making a lousy paperback.

terrie
08-11-2009, 06:03 PM
kt: Amen!'-}}

Terrie

annc
08-12-2009, 01:22 AM
I have yet to see a well-made, easy-to-read large-type book. I don’t think they put a penny more than they can avoid in producing them — probably have the night watchman spit them out in between their rounds! Poor or lousy hyphenation, no compensation for type size in the leading or line width, skinny margins. And I think they make the type larger than most readers need so the text is even harder to read.

I tried some when my cataracts got bad, and formed a powerfully negative feeling about those books.I've decided it's money. But now they're putting them out almost as soon as the standard editions, and the baby boomers are getting to the stage where they are reading them, they should be able to sell enough to pay for some decent design and layout. Until recently, I was spending about $80,000 a year on large type books. Now it's someone else's responsibility.

Mike
08-12-2009, 01:23 AM
I can't seem to load the picture of the page but my experience is that paperback publishers are generally penny-pinching. They're happy to have small margins if they can save a signature. I'm often asked to reduce margins to save pages.

The other thing that happens is that often first editions have a larger page size than later editions. Rather than reset the book publishers will just reduce the page size by a mixture of percentage reduction and cutting margins.

To hyphenate or not? Generally I hate hyphenation and only hyphenate if all else fails. I receive a number of ID and Xpress file from the US and they seem to use hyphenation as a first resort - there are frequently hyphens on consecutive lines and hyphenation of very short words or words where the initial of continuation part may only be two or three characters. Maybe it's another difference between UK/US style.

annc
08-12-2009, 01:41 AM
We get a lot of both English and American editions of books here, so I'm quite comfortable with both styles. I can handle the American spelling and terminology in the thrillers written by Americans without turning a hair - in fact, I'd find them really strange if they'd been anglicised in any way.

At lunchtime today I grabbed a book off a shelving trolley in the library to start reading while I ate. I often do this and it's a great way of discovering new authors.

This book is set in the fashionable area of the City of London, and uses single quotes rather than double. That is its only concession to 'English' English. The style is American, the terminology is American: man weighing 200 pounds; car trunk; store etc. The story's quite good as far as I've read. If it had been set in a city in the US, with double quotes throughout, I'd have checked it out to my library card after lunch and taken it home. It's the strange juxtaposition of location, storyline and style that bugged me and had the book put back on the shelving trolley.

I did check the author details on the back fly leaf, and it just says she currently lives in South Africa. Will check further to try to find out her background.

Michael Rowley
08-12-2009, 07:12 AM
Terrie:
He's well known for this paticular book I now see, having read this

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Wilson

that he specializes in T.E. Lawrence studies and publishes books himself. That's probably why I haven't come across him as a biographer (as people like Antonia Fraser is). I hadn't realized that the book you have was published in the USA, but Coliier Books is not known to me (as opposed to 'Colliers' as a magazine publisher).

Michael Rowley
08-12-2009, 07:20 AM
Mike:
I receive a number of ID and Xpress file from the US and they seem to use hyphenation as a first resort - there are frequently hyphens on consecutive linesYour objection to hyphenating seems to be shared by a lot of typesetters; for myself, I don't find any number of consecutive lines with word breaks interferes with reading, but I do find badly spaced lines very distracting.

ktinkel
08-12-2009, 09:00 AM
To hyphenate or not? Generally I hate hyphenation and only hyphenate if all else fails.Without hyphenation good typographic color is not possible, and large word spaces (especially patterns of them) make text hard to read.

Hyphens, on the other hand, pass without notice most of the time — so long as they do not mislead the reader (the notorious the-rapist sort of thing).

Hyphen counting is really a trick: it is easier to teach people to count the number of hyphens in a row than to ask them to assess the evenness of spacing within the column (or at least in the paragraph) and then decide whether 3 or even 4 consecutive hyphens would be preferable to big spaces between words.

There is a way to have it both ways, but it means you may need to re-adjust dozens of lines before the area with “too many” hyphens, which is rarely cost-effective — especially as, in the end, a hyphen is much less obnoxious than badly spaced type.

[ You inadvertently triggered one of my pet peeves. ]

terrie
08-12-2009, 10:51 AM
mike: Generally I hate hyphenation and only hyphenate if all else fails.How interesting...I thought hyphenation was "standard" and that I was odd (well...I know I'm odd...'-}}) for hating it too...'-}}

Terrie

terrie
08-12-2009, 10:57 AM
michael: I now see, having read thisThanks for that link...I don't think Wilson writes anywhere near as well as John Mack (his Lawrence biography won the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1977)...


>>but Coliier Books is not known to me (as opposed to 'Colliers' as a magazine publisher).

Right...I thought of the magazine too...

Terrie

Michael Rowley
08-12-2009, 01:16 PM
Terrie:
I don't think Wilson writes anywhere near as well as John MackThe book you have was first published in England in 1990 by the Casle Hill Press—owners, Wilson and his wife; you can safely be a boring writer if you own the publisher.

terrie
08-12-2009, 02:31 PM
michael: The book you have was first published in England in 1990 by the Casle Hill Press—owners, Wilson and his wife; you can safely be a boring writer if you own the publisher.LOL!! Indeed...perhaps that explains the piss-poor book design too...'-}}

Terrie

Michael Rowley
08-12-2009, 04:01 PM
Terrie:
perhaps that explains the piss-poor book design tooIt nay do, but we don't know what the edition published by Castle Hill Press was like; books can get awfully mauled about by a second publisher that isn't prepared to spend a penny he doesn't have to.

Mike
08-13-2009, 01:53 AM
Without hyphenation good typographic color is not possible, and large word spaces (especially patterns of them) make text hard to read.


I do find that inDesign's paragraph composer helps a lot - though lines that look OK on screen may not do in print.

Maybe I should send you one of my books for a critique - when I feel brave enough.

ktinkel
08-13-2009, 07:34 AM
I do find that inDesign's paragraph composer helps a lot - though lines that look OK on screen may not do in print.That’s for sure.

Just as no one should select fonts at large sizes when they are intended for text. It is too easy to be charmed by some details that are almost invisible on the page. Or worse, that make the text hard to read.

Maybe I should send you one of my books for a critique - when I feel brave enough.Oh, no! No books, at least not for such a purpose! I imagine you do just fine, anyway.

It occurred to me that I don’t really like hyphens either. Hyphenation is essential, but the character sure is unappealing. Good thing that it practically disappears on the page (unless, of course, it is badly used).