Think me old fashioned and stubborn, but I happen to like good ol’ Times New Roman. When it comes to readability in a book, I can’t go past it. So I unashamedly use it in the paper versions of my books.
Of course there are 1,000 opinions about font selection for a book. Sans serif, serif, modern, classic, avante garde and just plain silly. Bit for me it always comes back to the tried and true classics. While I don’t use Arial, Helvetica, Gill Sans or Baskerville in print, I do think these are great fonts for web use.
With the advent of e-books I suppose it hardly matters anymore anyway as the reader can choose their own favourite font no matter how much care went into the font selection at the time of publishing.
Another stuck in the mud view I have is about page numbers and headers. Unless page numbers are at the bottom of the page, I really think they look like an afterthought. Similarly for the author’s name and chapter title in the header. How obscenely grotesque and a complete waste of page space. Isn’t the name on the cover, spine, back and second page enough?
Then there is the nasty little trick of fattening a book by increasing the page margins. I received a book recently that weighed in at 365 pages, but used page margins the size of the Pacific. Not only did it look ridiculous, it was a waste of paper, shipping costs, carbon emissions and it made me so angry I didn’t bother to read it. If a book only has 25,000 words, making it into a tome will not make it carry anymore weight.
The last book design technique that irks me is the small and sometimes hardly noticeable increase in letter spacing (kerning) and/or line spacing. A 0.1 point increase in both can increase the page count by between 15 – 20%. Not a bad way to make a book look better value?
I think that is enough griping for one day. I must have taken too many grumpy pills for breakfast.