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Book Design Is More Important Than You Might Think

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With book designer Stephen Tiano


We can all recognize the importance and appeal of attractive product design. But with books, the right design affects much more than our aesthetic sensibilities.

Book designer Stephen Tiano wrote when he was very young, penning his first study at the age of four. When he started school, the Catholic nuns who taught him, as luck would have it, were more interested in grammar and diagramming sentences than religion.

Things were pretty well decided early on, he thought. But when he wasn’t a published novelist by the age of eighteen, and then twenty-one, he realized he needed to get serious about the next most reasonable work he could see himself doing: teaching English. He didn’t, however. Get serious or teach English.

Steve’s first real job was as a copy editor and proofreader. He even did some indexing…using actual index cards. He drifted into freelance proofreading when the typesetter he worked for eliminated all employee benefits: medical insurance, sick leave, on-time paychecks that didn’t bounce.

That’s when he decided that, if he had the tools, he could make books—or at least the files that a printer turned into books.

And so he does.

Please join Steve and host Paula B. as they weigh:

  • What’s the most important thing to consider when designing a book
  • How book design has changed over the last century–and why
  • Where new design trends originate
  • What a knockoff font is, and whether it matters if designers use one
  • How he would feel if someone offered him the chance to design books for cell phone delivery
  • Why book design is more important for the reader than you might think.

Interviewee: Stephen Tiano
Host: Paula B.
Date: September 16, 2007
Running time: 48:40
File size: 47 megabytes
Rating: G
Stephen Tiano’s Web site:
Steve’s blog: