How often do we remark on the way a book has been put together – beyond perhaps cursing such things as the smallness or the greyness of the type, the overemphatic display of chapter or section headings, or the eccentric positioning of page numbers? While a typographer’s skill should be largely invisible, the path to a legible, well-articulated text is a complex one. This admirable manual is itself a model of how such things should be done. The niceties it deals with would astonish the ordinary reader. Although a great deal more detail is provided than any but the professional would need to know, many of the main topics covered must be of general interest. A greater awareness of these fundamentals could help us all – and reviewers in particular – to a better appreciation of a well- made book, not least to discover the root of our dissatisfactions.
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'Robert Silvers, editor of the New York Review of Books, once asked Isaiah Berlin who his ideal dinner guest would be. Without hesitation Berlin exclaimed, ‘William James!’'
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Hilary Mantel reviewing Margaret Atwood: a #BookerPrize double-header from the archive.
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