Voodoo Words


Ever heard of Sabon and Bembo? Really? Then you are – in my eyes at least – an interesting person, a valuable contact and skilled in typesetting.webite-home-026 I now also have something to do with typesetting – I am a publisher, aren’t I? – but until a couple of days ago I had never heard of Sabon and Bembo. I truly believed that a beautiful, readable text just appears on the page. Abracadabra – and that’s it!


The new-born publisher is very excited, her first text will be type-set today. She takes her beautifully designed cover, the preliminary pages, the layout and the text to the typesetter. The typesetter throws a quick glance at the stuff brought to him. “Bembo is a particularly tricky font, we might have to deal with a lot of gappy lines.” The new-born publisher, who has just arrived on planet print, never heard of gappy lines. And Bembo? All she can see are normal letters and that’s what’s matters. They look pretty similar to Times New Roman in her word documents. She shrugs her shoulders and thinks: Bembo? Some typesetter jargon, surely nothing she needs to worry about. She goes home, with a smile on her face, soon she will have a beautiful text ready to go to the printers.

Little does she know that her peaceful nights are counted.

The next morning she finds on her screen the type-set text, it looks odd. Some lines have more gaps then words. She e-mails back: We need to adjust those lines. The typesetter obliges. The gaps disappear but now the lines look cramped. Words run into each other. She spends a sleepless night. Surely it must be possible to just put a text normally on the page. She rings the typesetter the next morning. “I told you,” he replies, “that’s what you get.” Despair descends upon her. Again, she hears him mumble this Voodoo word, Bembo. She has absolutely no clue what he is talking about. “I’ll send you the text in Sabon,” he then adds with rising frustration. SABON?  There are just too many bizarre words around for this new-born publisher and she is overcome by an immense desire to crawl under the duvet covers. In the meantime the Sabon text arrives. She opens the file – the last act she will  perform before ending her life  – and Abracadabra the text problems have disappeared.


So, did she that night sleep safe and sound, with sweet dreams about Sabon on her mind? No! She woke up at 2am and laid wide awake until 4 am, worrying now about the book’s size. It’s a small book – because her texts are short. But is the book perhaps too small? Will people like the fact that in the bookshelves the spine will be shorter? And will the die cut on the book sleeve work. It’s a stunning idea but will it tear too easily? At 5 am she decides to get up. The least she can do is write her blog, a blissful simple task in comparison to her Voodoo publishing world.

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