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ISBN 9781568985527 Published Jan. 2006
Princeton Architectural Press
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Posted Oct. 7, 2009 5:45 a.m. by jon
In Publishing Industry - 800 CEO Read Blog
Another prime cut from the Author Blog, here's an email interview I conducted with design and publishing thinker Ellen Lupton, who talks about her experience with self-publishing books, and the role design plays in the process. It's an interesting read for anyone who might be looking for ways to present their ideas to the world.
Technology has enabled people to publish their own books easier, more frequently, and with more control than ever before, but what is really involved?
Writer and designer Ellen Lupton has published many books that deal with communication design, and has now written a book that addresses the freedom (and work) involved with publishing your own book. It’s called Indie Publishing.
After reading the book (and keeping it as an important resource), I thought it would be great to share some of her ideas with our author audience. The following is a brief interview I conducted with Ellen about some of the ideas in her book, and other insights into the publishing world.
What do you see as the main advantages of self-publishing, and working with a mainstream publisher?
In favor of self-publishing: Keep all the money. Control all the details. Take responsibility for your project. Don’t ask permission to get yourself published. Don’t get lulled into the false expectation that your publisher will make your book successful for you or fix all the problems with it.
In favor of mainstream publishing: Someone foots the bill (less risk for you). You don’t have to do everything yourself (less work for you). Avail yourself of professional expertise, including editing, design, and distribution.
With technology, self-publishing is certainly becoming more possible and easy for individuals, but is it for everyone? What are the main challenges?
Putting together books takes a lot of time, practice, and attention to details. To make a beautiful book requires sensitivity to typography. Traditional publishing is a collaborative process; self-publishing can be solitary–but it doesn’t have to be. You can still band together and get feedback from people.
Should the rise of self-publishing carry ecological concerns?
On the one hand, the rise of self-publishing means more books and more paper (because more people have access to publishing). On the other hand, self-publishing is well-suited to low-volume projects for local audiences, which are not terribly wasteful. Print-on-demand minimizes waste. Self-publishing is also suited to eBooks and other electronic editions.
Your book, Indie Publishing, covers a ton of helpful information on production, design, and even some history of the publishing industry. A whole other book, perhaps, would be to discuss the marketing of self-published books. What advice would you share for a self-pub author to get the word out about their book?
There are many ways to promote your book. You can visit schools, speak as an expert on related subjects, publish articles on related topics, have a blog, contribute to other people’s blogs, and more. Many people think the only way that authors promote books is by doing readings and events at bookstores. In my experience, these events can be awkward and ineffective. I’ve had much better experiences doing lectures at colleges or professional conferences, where people are there to hear about your topic and are receptive to the book.
A major chunk of the book is about design. Whether you’re making an art book or a business book, design is critical for usability and impact. For the sake of this interview, share a synopsis of your thoughts on the importance of design.
A book is a physical object. We hold it in our hands and we see it with our eyes. Bad typography and shoddy construction will undercut the authority of a book, making it look amateur. For example, a book typeset in 12pt TimesRoman with badly justified text will look like it was put together in your office cubicle at lunch. A well-designed book need not call attention to itself; it will just look right.
Some of the design approaches you discuss in the book might be labor intensive. Some authors might be thinking, “I can’t spend too much time on the design. I need to get the idea out there and get people talking about it.” What are your thoughts on this, and how far should authors consider the design and feel of their book?
Publishing is a labor-intensive process. Anyone who has worked with mainstream publishers has experienced frustrating lag times between various stages of submission–it seems to take forever to get feedback and results (even rejections take too long)! When you design and produce your own book, you discover the reasons behind some of that lag time, yet you get to control the time yourself. Writing is slow, editing is slow, and design is slow, too. Our society is starting to value “slowness” again. If you don’t enjoy gradual, repetitive processes, then self-publishing is not for you. (Self-publishers can hire professional editors and designers to help them, though.)
What are your thoughts on digital books, and how effective do you see publishing in that realm to be over physical books?
Digital books are coming of age fast. They are economical, timely, and low on waste. I believe that digital books will enable more authors to get published; however, this will also mean more books out there for people to choose from, and more competition for limited mind share.
Even if someone is working with a major publisher, what are some ways that self-publishing might compliment that work?
Print-on-demand technologies are a great way to develop book proposals to share with editors and agents (especially if your book has a visual component). I use print-on-demand throughout the writing and design process to prototype and share the work as I go. A print-on-demand or self-published work can be the basis of a bigger or formally produced book later.
About Ellen Lupton:
Ellen Lupton is a writer, curator, and graphic designer. She is director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. She is the author of numerous books, including Thinking with Type (2004), D.I.Y.: Design It Yourself (2006), and Graphic Design: The New Basics (with Jennifer Cole Phillips, 2008).
More information about her work can be found at:
Todd's Best of Business Books 2006
Posted Dec. 13, 2006 8:08 a.m. by todd-sattersten
In Lists - 800 CEO Read Blog
I started with a list of 22 books that I thought deserved year-end honors. The narrowing of the list was the hard part. I quickly marked the ones I knew should be on my list and looked to see if they had something in common. What I saw was each of the books changed the way I looked at the world. I went through the list again with that criterea and found three more books.
Here are my six favorite books of 2006:
*The Origin of Wealth by Eric Beinhocker
This is my favorite book of the year and you will not have seen me talk about it anywhere on the site. How is that possible? It is a hard book to talk about in 100 words. Beinhocker has taken all of the literature on complexity theory and put it into one book. The information is accessible and the research explained through extended stories. More importantly, Origin of Wealth is written for a business audience. What many are going to find daunting is the book is 512 pages. My solution: take three books off your night stand and replace them with Origin of Wealth.
What I Learned: The complex nature of the universe makes it impossible to predict. What makes it worse is that our brains are not wired to see the complexity in the world and we often make poor decisions because of it. The only thing you can do to survive is keep trying new things (and understand that most will fail). I know that sounds obvious, but are you doing it?!
*The Number by Lee Eisenberg
The book was released with high hopes from Free Press and the book never meet the expectations of the publisher. Adrian Zackheim, the publisher at Portfolio, said that people don't want to read about how they are not going to have enough money when they retire. I agree with him. Eisenberg takes you on a emotional roaster coaster ride through what it is going to take to deal with the second half of your life. It has been a long time as since I have been that depressed from reading a book. My reaction came from his vivid storytelling and the stark realities he forced me to face.
What I Learned: The magnitude of your number is driven by future lifestyle. People struggle is how they are going to spend their post-workforce years. Your life needs purpose and meaning whether you are 38 or 88. Calculate accordingly.
*The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld
Fred has been talking about customer loyalty for years. I remember when The One Number You Need to Grow ran in Harvard Business Review in 2003. Kate says it was a part of her coursework. I felt Net Promoter Scores (NPS) finally put some numbers to the power of word of mouth. Companies like GE and American Express have created corporate initiatives while others question if NPS really predicts corporate growth [WSJ - sub. needed].
What I Learned: In one question, I could find out the most important thing I need to know about my customers - would they recommend me to friend. This is not the sort of thing that can be corrupted. 800ceoread adopted the NPS philosophy when the book came out and believe wholeheartedly its effectiveness. We found out (and continue to find out) what matters to our customers. All you have to do it ask.
*The Change Function by Pip Coburn
Pip advises the investment community on technology. For him, technology is not about earnings per share and software release dates. It is about whether people will adopt it. It is about change. The book is a quick read with great examples. If you are in IT and you want to know why the functional groups around you are implementing their own solutions, this book is for you.
What I Learned: All you have to think about is whether the crisis greater than the pain of adoption. If the answer is no then nobody is going to buy. And this applies to all sorts of change like moving from PC to Mac or lowering your cholesterol. Simple, but powerful.
*Purpose by Nikos Mourkogiannis
I wrote my love letter to this book yesterday.
*D.I.Y. (Design It Yourself) by Ellen Lupton (editor)
I saw this book showing up on a number of design websites in the last year, and it piqued my interest. The book gives you some thoughts on the craft of design, but the cool part is Ellen and her students showing you how to make stuff. D.I.Y has instructions on how to make t-shirts, books, business cards, wall-graphics and more. Knowing what is possible help you be more creative.
What I Learned: You can make it yourself. You don't need to go to the store and choose the least worst. I made a batch of t-shirts for a side project that turned out great. My annual Christmas CD turned out wicked cool with some pre-silkscreened CDRs and slick jewel cases. I am already plotting my D.I.Y. projects for next year.
I was going to stop there, but I think there are some others titles that our dear readers need to make sure they considered. Consider these my honorable mentions.
-Firecracker Category (everyone needs a little inspiration):
Small Is The New Big by Seth Godin (best of his short writings)
Radical Edge by Steve Farber (another killer business novella)
Mavericks At Work by Bill Taylor and Polly LaBarre (the energy of Fast Company returns)
-The Company Books (read about the companies shaping how business is done):
The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman (best book on the company. Period.)
The Elegant Solution: Toyota's Formula for Mastering Innovation by Matthew May (spent time inside to find out what makes them tick)
-Thinking Cap Category (time to start thinking differently):
More Than You Know by Michael Mauboussin (this one is really about making better decisions)
One Great Insight Is Worth A Thousand Good Ideas by Phil Dunesberry (describes and illustrates the power of insights)
Are You Ready To Succeed? by Srikumar Rao (self-help for business people)
Undercover Economist by Tim Harford (economics are all around you, Tim show you where)
Questions of Character by Joe Badaracco (uses fiction to teach lessons in leadership)
-Nuts and Bolts Category (things to help run the organization better)
Hard Facts, Dangerous Half-Truths, and Total Nonsense by Jeff Pfeffer and Bob Sutton (based your decisions on evidence, not conjecture)
Setting The Table by Danny Meyer (the NYC resturanteer share his brand of managing)
12: The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner and James Harter (ten million Gallup interviews can't be wrong)
D.I.Y. (Design It Yourself)
Posted June 19, 2006 5:29 a.m. by todd-sattersten
In Small Business - 800 CEO Read Blog
Ellen Lupton and the students at the Maryland Institute College of Art wrote and designed a great book called D.I.Y. (Design It Yourself). The book's purpose is to make the idea of designing something less intimidating.
They start the book with a series of essays on designs and do-it-yourself design. It eases you into the idea that it is possible for you to design and that it is not just for the cool, hip kids who went to art school.
The rest of the book lays out 27 different products you can get your hands dirty with. They ranging from t-shirts to stickers to books. There is an overview and a series of projects in each chapter. The projects are rated by cost and difficulty so you know what you are getting yourself into. And there are LOTS of pictures.
D.I.Y. is a definite How-To book, but it is really more about inspiration. I think Lupton and her students give readers the license to try their own stuff and see what happens.