While I’m on vacation this week the blog posts will feature a picture-a-day from my publishing past.

This is a picture of my office at the book typesetter in Florida.

Thinking back, I suppose I owe my book design career to Quark 3.

Ever since college I had dreamed of working in book publishing but figured that there was small chance of that in my part of Florida. But there was an ad for a book typesetter in my local paper (and employer) and, based on my Quark ad-typesetting experience, was hired to join a small husband-and-wife-run book typesetting business. I think my education there can be summed up with this sentence: We had to measure out our layouts in Quark in points. Not inches, not picas, but points. But I loved it. All of it. The designs that we received with the book manuscripts were done by really good designers. The proofreaders with were exacting and my accuracy shot up exponentially. The manuscripts were mostly from university presses and academic journal publishers and I found all of them interesting. The deadlines were again fast and furious and many titles needed to be juggled at the same time, but the process of seeing a manuscript from Word to Quark to bound book was gratifying. The release of Quark 4 rocked my world.

Around this time, a Barnes and Noble opened in town. It was the only bookstore in the area open after work and my routine became: get paid on Friday, stop at B&N, drop a good portion of my paycheck there, and then take my purchases to the cafe for some coffee and dinner. These were the days my bookstore design research was born. Even though I wasn’t designing books, I was determined it was going to be my next step, so I wanted to be prepared. I also spent quite a bit of time in the art section, learning again my art-class basics and figuring out how they applied to grid design.

I look back at those years and can’t help but think of how wide-eyed that kid was. Always a late bloomer, my twenties were really like my college years, except that I learned on the job. Leave it to me to figure out what I wanted to do after college, but that’s the way it went.

Eventually, I figured out that a book design job wasn’t going to be found in Florida, no matter how long I searched. I was going to have to head back up North. So I eventually stopped buying so many books and started saving for the big move. That book typesetting job was perfect timing, though. I learned the basics from talented designers and figured out how to valuable to my boss (work fast, work accurately, troubleshoot on my own as much as possible). I felt prepared for my next step.