During the last months, we have been working on designing a platform for reading INC publications online. In order to consider all of the specific needs that creating a website for a book implies, we have been using the new Theory on Demand publication: The Gray Zones of Creativity and Capital as a material for our experiments.
Moreover, we have been producing the Epub and the printed version of the book, that I am now super happy to announce that they were officially launched on the 3rd of December, at MoneyLab!
You can find Gray Zones here.
We have been using the workflow that PublishingLab currently developps: Hybrid Publishing Toolkit.
To roughly describe this workflow, it uses the Pandoc library in order to export different kind of file formats. At PublishingLab, we mainly produce the needed files (.md, .epub, .pdf and now .html) from a single .docx file that the writers directly send us.
We were very happy to try the Hybrid Publishing workflow in order to produce this publication in such various formats. Still some troubles occured, as the workflow is constantly evolving because of the big variety of configurations our computers have.
In terms of design, we basically stayed close to the current Theory on Demand series, but tried to fit the visual idea developed in the first edition of Gray Zones. The book pages presented everytime different shades of gray and thus gave an impression of deep.
We made the choice to conserve, on the one hand, the basic template of ToD book covers (font-face, overlapping text, disposition of typographic elements) but on the other hand, to change the usual vector patterns of the background for blurred gray shadows.
We also made the book cover different than the other ToD publications by using no color at all and by playing only with different levels of black.
Those “small” details make Gray Zones slightly different than the other ToD and pops up subtly from the rest of the series.
Some small technical and typographic modifications were added to the pages inside the printed book, as for instance increasing the space after the titles —so that pages are more pleasant to read— and optimizing space between words in paragraphs, in order to avoid big white spaces and recurring hyphenation.
Moreover, we have changed the former font-face of paragraphs (Helvetica) to a new open-source font called HK Grotesk. This font is the one used for the new reader we design for the INC and consists in a visual link between the printed books and the online reader. This appeared also important to us, in order to fit with the open-source ‘awareness’ of the PublishingLab.
We believe that Epub, as it displays on a screen and is made with CSS, is rather difficult to style, regarding the justification of text and hyphenation.
That’s why we added some modifications to the Epub layout, as changing the justified paragraphs to left aligned text and removed all hyphenations. We also decreased the font-size to come near to 60-70 characters per line, which is the optimal.
Moreover, since technical problems appeared when modifying some parts of the CSS used to style the epub, we unfortunately didn’t commit all of the changes that we would have like to do, as changing the font-face to HK Grotesk in order to find an harmony between all of the different formats of the publication.
However, we are going to try to implement all of those changes in the future!