Last week I was lucky enough to attend lecture by Tony Palmer from Penguin Books Australia. He took us through how to format a beautiful ebook for the iPad, how to design text and how to design a book cover.
eBooks for the iPad
Tony pointed out that 80% of the Australian ebook-reading market uses an iPad to view their ebooks. This means it is very important as a book designer to know how to work with iPads.
You need a different set of skills to design publications for print and iPad. The biggest change is that the designer must let go their control over how the ebook looks. The iPad user is able to change the font size and type to any number of options and your publication must remain readable.
The other restriction is that you are only given two rectangles in which to insert your content. The designer cannot adjust anything outside these borders.
Unsurprisingly for a lecture on text design, Tony started with a crash course on ‘good’ and ‘bad’ fonts. However, he then went on to say that he doesn’t like to use the word ‘kerning’ because it is not specific enough for his needs. He likes to specify whether there is a problem with ‘word spacing’ or ‘letter spacing.’ And this is the way that InDesign refers to it as well.
He also said that there is no magic equation for choosing the correct typeface, spacing, leading and grid. It simply comes down to experience and intuition.
For the large swathes of text used in books, Tony recommended a serif font like Garamond or a san-serif font like Rotis.
Book Cover Design
Here are four book covers that Tony created for Penguin:
The first three covers went through the usual stages of briefing, development, crash, redevelopment and commitment. The one on the right was an entry to a prize, so he didn’t have to go through any stages involving the client. This was because he was acting as his own client. This particular book cover simply went from the development to the commitment stage.
His main point when talking about book cover design is that he works for the client. There is no ‘Tony Palmer’ style, he simply makes what he is paid to make. Thats the deal. If the client wants a thriller cover, they get one. If they want an ‘artsy’ looking cover, they get one. If they want a children’s book, then thats what they get.