My Type


Over the last 48+ hours I've been seriously exploring the possibility of self-publishing some of my works on paper, and of printing works by the kind of writers I've published online at the Monadnock Review. So I've been experimenting with XSL-FO, learning about typography and typesetting, reading books on self-publishing and starting a small press, and thinking about whether this is really something I want to do, and if so whether I want to do it at this time in my life.

I've come to several preliminary conclusions:

  1. Typography and typesetting are practical art-forms, of which there are some beautiful examples (such as the books published by printers associated with the Arts-and-Crafts movement)
  2. XSL-FO is still an experimental technology and though I like it quite a bit, it does not yet give one fine control over all elements of a page
  3. As far as I can tell, Linux is not (yet) the best platform on which to attempt art-quality printing -- for instance, the font support is not advanced enough
  4. In order for me to print books I would be proud of, I need to learn a lot more about fonts, layout, graphic design, and the like
  5. Publishing is not cheap, since one is essentially setting up a small business and then creating a "product" on speculation, with no guarantee that one will ever sell enough copies to recoup expenses

So I think that while printing books is something I want to do, it's not something I want to do right now. It's definitely something that I'll continue to think about and plan for, though -- especially since self-publishing is pretty much the only way to get published these days.

Peter Saint-Andre > Journal