Meet the Book Designer: Steve Tiano

18 Sep

Anyone who reads our blog regularly will notice that freelance book designer Stephen Tiano is a frequent visitor and commenter. Recently, he was interviewed by Paula Berinstein at The Writing Show. (Listen to the podcast.) As she noted in her introduction about him:

    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.

I’ve been reading Steve’s blog—in a couple of different iterations—for the last year and a half or so and he has many good things to say about the life of a freelancer in general and book design in particular. For anyone with an interest in these areas, I would highly recommend you visit his Web site and/or blog and/or listen to his interview at The Writing Show.



4 Responses to “Meet the Book Designer: Steve Tiano”

  1. tianodesign September 18, 2007 at 5:13 pm #

    Thanks very much, Mark. Kind of you to say. I can only add that making books, as you well know, is a gas. For those who choose this kind of work, my hope is that you find it every bit as rewarding as I do.

  2. Jim October 17, 2007 at 10:41 pm #

    Having known Steve Tiano since July 1976–I was 21, he was 22–we became fast friends. At a time when I was more
    interested in comics by R. Crumb, he on the other hand was the only person I ever met at that age who could quote Sartre, Schopenhauer, Camus, and ‘all the rest’. ..Too bad he hasn’t yet penned a book on all the adventures we had, LOL!
    Happy BD today Steve (Oct 18).

  3. tianodesign October 20, 2007 at 7:32 pm #

    Wow! Just saw the comment above from a buddy of mine. He knew me pre-book book design—in fact, it was two years yet to my first proofreading job (in-house, too), when I met Jim in 1976. Strange business where we end up, compared o where we thought we were heading. That’s another reason I say to your interns, Mark: How lucky to be in a program on a path towards doing something you presumably love, or at least get a kick out of.

    By the way, it’s a bit of an exaggeration that I was ever able to quote Sartre. Kierkegaard, maybe. Talk about Fear and Loathing …

  4. tianodesign October 20, 2007 at 7:34 pm #

    Oops, I guess I meant Fear and Trembling.

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