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Small is Beautiful

Of all the books we’ve produced at LifeLines Press, there is one that gives us all particular pleasure.  a young man rang us to say his father had died and left a journal.  It was only 9,000 words long.  Could we make a book out of it?

When you think that an average paperback is about 90,000 words long, you realise just how small his father’s journal was.  Books need spines.  How could we turn 9,000 words into enough pages to give us a spine?  Particularly important in this case as my client wanted it hardbound.

A few weeks before I had been browsing antique books shops in Charing Cross Road, trying to pick up design ideas that I could modernise, and I came across a selection of Victorian pocket books.  They were tiny, often no more than three or four inches wide by about seven or eight inches long.  The typography on the inside title page is always wonderfully ornate, and there was a particularly pleasing balance of type to white space.

So many modern books have mean little margins in an effort to cram as many words as possible into the minimum number of pages.  This may be cost effective, but it’s not aesthetically pleasing.  Books should look and feel good, as well as being worth the read.

Clearly when it came to small editions the Victorians knew what they were doing, and so we copied them.  We turned this tiny memoir into a modern pocket book, bound in soft book cloth, the scanty text laid out with generous margins either side. When it was finished and bound it measured 4″ x 8″ and the spine was just one centimetre thick.

To show you how small the book is we photographed it being held.  You can also see our modern version of a Victorian inside title page. The client was delighted – and so were we.

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