So, this past couple of weeks I’ve been going through two sets of Page Proofs for Half a King, one for Del Rey’s US edition, one for HarperCollins’ UK edition. This is when the book, in its (almost) final typeset form, is sent to you for final approval on loose leaves of A4, and you hunt through for errors, typos, details you suddenly realise are rubbish (amazing how, during a dozen other read-throughs, you can sometimes miss the same word used twice in consecutive sentences, or even the same sentence) and issues of formatting. This, is, of course, a time-honoured phase of the process and, indeed, I’ve discussed it before at some length in – wait for it – 2007.
The interesting thing with this particular set is the somewhat different approaches the US and UK publishers have taken:
The UK (left) have gone for a bigger point size and narrower setting, which has produced a much bigger page count (370ish). The US (right) have gone for smaller type, turning the book in a full 100 pages shorter. The UK have also gone for a much simpler, more classic layout, while the US have done some quite interesting stuff with grey scales and arrangement, especially on the part title pages:
Which you prefer is going to be very much a matter of taste, of course. Be interesting to see how they look when the books are printed and bound. Why the difference, some will ask? Really just a matter of house style and a judgement by the designer on a look that suits the book and the intended audience.
It’s been really interesting reading the book over again, actually (twice). There’s quite a profound difference between reading a roughly formatted typescript and the properly typeset pages. A gain in authority, you might say. A sense that, bloody hell, I actually wrote a proper, honest-to-goodness book here. Not that I’m by any means a champion of paper over screen but that’s perhaps something that’s slightly lost with an e-book, where text has to wrap to new screens and point-sizes. When I read off a screen I tend to get a faint sense of work-in-progress. Properly set paper has that unarguable finality about it…