Saturday, December 11, 2021

More on Free Fonts

Having said some words on free fonts for publishing (in the previous post), I thought I’d, ah, say some more words. Specifically, I’d mention a few popular choices that have become widely available. Why not in alphabetic order?

Alegreya is a lovely serif typeface that seems a little too ornate for the typical fiction book. I would not however, hesitate to use it for poetry—and have. Moreover, it pairs beautifully with the sans version, also free. Alegreya Sans for headings, Alegreya for body, is a combo that works great.

Century Schoolbook is one of the fonts included in the URW++ Ghostscript package I mentioned before. CS is always a good, workmanlike, and highly legible typeface. After all, it is widely specified for legal documents. For a novel? It would certainly work but might look a little old-fashioned, stodgy even, to some readers. For children’s books, as well as nonfiction, it remains a good choice.

Cormorant is a variant on the ever-popular Garamond style of typefaces, but one a little too quirky for long stretches of text. It lacks the readability for that. Great for titles, though (as is the related sans, Ysabeau), and we used it for a book of quotes once.

Crimson I mentioned before and suggested getting the latest version from the designer. It is another Garamond-ish font (or more in the Granjon vein, actually) and has some similarities to the popular Plantin typeface. That’s a good thing. There have been reports of oddities when it is printed so that is something one must watch for (as with any font). Another good workmanlike font with a touch of elegance.*

EB Garamond is pretty much the cream of the free Garamonds (although we mostly use the URW++ Garamond No.8) and practically identical to the widely used Adobe Garamond. As both are based on the same original type samples, this is not unexpected. Some might claim it is not quite as refined as the Adobe offering in terms of kerning and such, but it looks every bit as good to us. One could certainly use this typeface exclusively for text and forget the rest.

Gentium has been around a long time and is thoroughly tried and tested. It looks pretty good, too, less stodgy than many popular choices but not overdone. It does suffer somewhat from the same problem as Times New Roman; that is, it can look too closely packed in long lines. We’ve used it for poetry and it works there. It would not be a bad choice for a magazine, used in narrower columns.

The same is largely true of Linux Libertine, another font that has been around a while.

PT Serif was designed for the Russian government. It has more than a passing resemblance to Microsoft’s Constantia, probably the best of those ‘Clear Type’ fonts they brought out as a package some time back. Of course, any and all those Microsoft fonts included for ‘free’ with Windows are off-limits for publishing, but PT is a quite adequate and usable typeface.

Which brings us at last to the very popular Volkorn. As much as I like this font, I’ve never seen it as working that well in a novel. Maybe it could but I’d be more likely to use it for nonfiction. It is a solid, readable font—almost too solid.


Some others I might mention: Fanwood, which is based on a ‘standard’ typeface for fiction, Fairfield. The same designer, Barry Schwarz, has also crafted OFL Sorts Mill Goudy, based on Goudy Old Style. Both certainly look good but are perhaps not quite as time-tested and refined as some other offerings. Schwarz has some other Goudy-based offerings too; one might or might not find them useful.

Libre Baskerville and Libre Caslon are both projects that might not be completely perfected but might provide what one needs for a self-published project—especially if one wants that classic look such fonts provide.

Literata is a Google font originally designed for use in e-readers but one needn’t limit it to that. There is a version for print, in a large variety of weights. I’ll note that it looks somewhat like Adobe’s Minion.

Lora is also available from Google and is, again, intended more as a screen font than a print one, but doesn’t look bad on a page.

All these typefaces may be found readily enough online. Search the names. Perhaps I’ll write a post on a few of the commercial fonts we like and use, down the line, but this is enough for now.

*An addendum: There is now a Crimson Pro that is an even better choice, and available in a number of weights. If you wish to try out Crimson, this is the way to go (and it may be downloaded from Google Fonts).

Thursday, December 2, 2021

Free Fonts for Publishing

Allow me to make clear before proceeding that I intend to discuss typefaces for the interior text of books. Display fonts for covers are another subject. One can get away with type there that would be entirely unsuitable for text.

So—free. You may have been warned about low quality ‘junk’ fonts. This is not as much the problem as it was in the early days of desktop publishing. There are many quite good and quite free typefaces out there. We use some ourselves at Arachis Press. Let me begin with a familiar name: Adobe.

Back in the early days of personal computers Adobe developed a rather nice typeface named Utopia. This is a slightly simplified (for the low resolution printers of the time) take on something similar to Baskerville. Utopia was intended as a sort of Times New Roman killer, a font suitable to all-around office use. It didn’t displace TNR but it proved to be a quite nice font that eventually was made free. One may see quality novels and nonfiction from the big publishing houses printed in Utopia. Though they undoubtedly use the paid version, the free font is completely acceptable.

More recently, Adobe released their free Source Serif. This typeface has roots in the 18th Century Fournier designs and looks quite professional on the page. Not as ‘formal’ as Utopia—use whichever suits the mood of your book. One could probably get by with just those two fonts. There is also a free Source Sans; less useful as text but one could employ it effectively for chapter titles and such.

Which brings us to Charter. This is also an older design from Matthew Carter and created for much the same purposes as Utopia. Moreover, it is based on the same original typeface as Source Serif; there are differences, to be sure, but they are very similar. Which one is preferable is entirely a matter of personal taste. Charter also has a free version (more than one, actually). When I say free, I mean completely so: no cost and free to use however one wishes.

I could mention the widely available Deja Vu (aka Vera) fonts here also. They too were crafted in the early days of computers for much the same reasons as Utopia and Charter. Honestly, I do not think highly of the way they look on a printed page. Not that there is anything wrong with them; they are simply not very attractive to my eye.

There are loads of other acceptable free typefaces out there and I am not going to list them. There is all the stuff from Google Fonts, of course. Some are adequate, but be warned many are better suited to screens than printed pages. Some are not the latest and best versions, also—Crimson, which can be a pretty decent text typeface, is best downloaded from its designer, not Google. Be warned too that some of these typefaces can become problematic when sent off to a printer, with characters not printing properly and so on. Still many free fonts one may find are well designed and look good; just be sure to give any print proofs a very thorough going over!

I must mention the URW++ free package. These were the fonts donated to the Ghostscript project way back and include quite usable and professional typefaces. In particular, the Garamond No.8 and Palladio, which are our ‘default’ choices for, respectively, novels and poetry. Palladio is a variant on Palatino, and designed for URW by Zapf himself. Garamond No.8 is essentially Stempel Garamond. There are several other good fonts included. One can find the packet for download online. They may be ‘old’ designs but they hold up.

Now we at AP do not use just free fonts. We have a license for a package of Bitstream typefaces and those are every bit as likely to show up. But we could get by on free, if need be, and so could anyone else out there wishing to publish on their own. I would suggest starting with time-tested fonts like Charter and Utopia, and the URW++ package, and taking it from there.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Updates on Releases

We have started the process of getting Sienna Santerre's 'One Summer in the Sun' into print and distribution. With everything slowed down the next month and more, we felt it best to get it going right now, although the official release date is Jan 15. It is likely to show up in our own store before then—we'll see! Less hurry on getting the ebooks (epub, pdf, kindle) out the door.
We are also releasing revised versions of some of our older titles. New print editions of Stephen Brooke's children's chapter books, 'The Contrary Fairy' and 'Daisy Days' will be out shortly. The ebook versions will also be updated and these will continue to be free downloads at our site. Brooke's second poetry collection, 'Dreamwinds,' will also appear in a new edition and it, too, will remain a free ebook download. Do expect the print prices of these three books to go up a tad.
More revised books should continue to roll out in the coming year. New ones too!

Sunday, October 3, 2021

One Summer

Stephen Brooke's fantasy novel "The Walls Between the Worlds" is now officially in a release. Here's a peak at a promo banner for our next book, Sienna Santerre's "One Summer in the Sun," coming January 15 of next year. More on the novel as we draw closer to that date. Beyond that, we have nothing set. Do expect a poetry collection for Stephen Brooke sometime in the summer.

Saturday, October 2, 2021

Walls Release

Today is the official publication date for Stephen Brooke's fantasy novel "The Walls Between the Worlds." The book is available in our own store in print, PDF, and EPUB formats. Here's the link to the print version:

It is also available at Amazon in print and Kindle editions. Here the print link:

The print version should also be available at retailers 'everywhere.'

Friday, August 6, 2021

Lands Far Away Release

Saturday, August 7 2021, is the official release day for Stephen Brooke's collection of (mostly) fantasy short stories titled Lands Far Away. Here's the back cover blurb:

Away! Beyond the hills, beyond the seas, lie kingdoms unknown. This book of stories is for all who would seek them at the edges of the world, for all who would journey to Lands Far Away ~ tales of fantasy by Stephen Brooke.

Lands Far Away is available right now. It's a fairly short book, around 30,000 words, with seventeen stories and two poem/songs included. And, as with Brooke's poetry collections, the ebook version is a free download. Print may be purchased at the Arachis Press store or at Amazon or, in theory anyway, 'everywhere.' The download, in both EPUB and PDF formats, is here (along with several other free books).

Some of the stories included in the book have appeared in magazines and many—but not all—are on the humorous side. 



Saturday, June 19, 2021

The Rest of 2021

Today, June 19 2021 marks the official release of Oliver Davis Pike’s new science fiction novel, ‘Among the Many Worlds.’ The book is available at our own store in print (paperback) and ebooks (EPUB and PDF) formats. It is also at Amazon as a Kindle book, as well as print.

We expect to release two more books this year. These are both by Stephen Brooke; first, the collection of short fantasy fiction, ‘Lands Far Away.’ There will be a print edition for sale but the ebooks will be free to download. Release date is August 2. This will be followed by the fantasy novel ‘The Walls Between the Worlds’ in October. More on both as we move closer to those dates.

A new edition of the Brooke mainstream novel ‘Asanas’ is being rolled out over the next few weeks. The PDF and EPUB versions are already in our store. Expect Kindle to show up in early July, as well as a new version of the print edition. That latter will be available in our store first; it may take a little while for details of the updated book to reach retailers.

We are (finally!) revamping our website. The pages for our poetry/literary fiction imprint, Eggshell Boats, should be up soon. The main Arachis Press site might take a little longer but we are working on it—getting the books out always has priority (both publishing and writing).

Friday, May 28, 2021

The Walls Between the Worlds

We are pleased to announce that the latest fantasy novel by Stephen Brooke, THE WALLS BETWEEN THE WORLDS, is scheduled for publication on October 2, 2021. Here's the rear cover blurb and the cover (probably in final form):

Hurasu, the greatest sorcerer his world had ever known, was dead. To his son he left his sword, four mystic jewels, a realm in ruin, and many enemies. Urtu was not at all sure he wanted that realm. A wide unknown world lay beyond it; for a lad skilled with both weapons and spells, the path lay away for the great valley of his birth, across the mountains and into the tropical empire of the Molu.

Urtu realized that a mission had been given him along with his father’s jewels, for they were the Eyes of the Wind, too powerful to allow their misuse. To a place of safety he must carry them, with the aid of a shaman and a god and sometimes his mother, while other powerful wizards pursued. But first, a sojourn amid the politics and the women of the Molu—and a certain amount of learning about both the world and himself. Join Urtu as he begins his journey across The Walls Between the Worlds.


Sunday, April 25, 2021

When Man Was Young and More

We finally have the EPUB edition of Stephen Brooke's time travel novel, When Man Was Young, available in our store. That's only like a month late. Print version was available on schedule and can be purchased 'everywhere.' And, to be sure, the Kindle version is at Amazon. We have decided that future EPUBs (at least for a while) will be sold only through our Lulu store. Except, of course, for the free downloads at our own site. 

The next release will be the poetry title The Moon and I. This will be one of those aforementioned free downloads and should be available to everyone by the official release date of May 15, in both EPUB and PDF formats. The print version (which of course costs) should be available in our store by then but maybe not in wide distribution by the target date. That has to do with certain internet problems we've been experiencing (having to do with satellites and particularly odd weather).

We are hoping those problems will not pop up to plague us further this year (nor those we have been experiencing with Lulu) and that the roll-out of Oliver Davis Pike's SF novel, Among the Many Worlds will be smooth in June.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

The PDF as E-Book

The bulk of e-books sold these days (or distributed free, for that matter) are in one of the ‘reflowable’ formats: Amazon’s AZW Kindle or the open source EPUB, most commonly. MOBI, the parent format of Kindle, is also out there, retaining some popularity. All of these are essentially containers for HTML files; there is nothing wrong with a book in unpackaged HTML, whether for reading online or for downloading, and these can be read in pretty much any browser.

We try to offer our books both as EPUBs—our preference—and as Kindle. The latter, simply because so much book traffic passes through Amazon. Not as much, I think, as some would suggest. There are a great many EPUBs being distributed that are not being tracked and counted.

But there is also the venerable PDF. Every book that is printed has probably been in PDF format at some point. That’s what printers mostly work from these days. But as an e-book, the PDF has a much smaller audience. Its fixed, non-reflowable pages do not lend themselves to Kindles and other readers and tablets. On the other hand, if one reads on a computer, whether laptop or desktop, they can look very good and much more like a ‘real’ book. I prefer them personally.

We used to offer dedicated PDF versions of all our books for reading on computers (or elsewhere, if desired), directly from our store. Very few of the online vendors bother with them, Google being one exception. They sold poorly—when at all—and cluttered our store, so we dropped them. The PDF also has the disadvantage of being a somewhat larger file than the typical e-book, with or without illustrations.

But it has the advantage of looking the way we intended. The correct typefaces in the correct places, properly sized and placed illustrations, header and footer, fixed page numbers, etc. In other words, like a print book. This, we feel, is especially advantageous for books for children. A Kindle picture book is not going to cut it (not that toddlers should really be reading PDFs on your computer either). Our early reader chapter books are available as print and PDF, not in any reflowable format.

PDFs are superior for ‘how-to’ books, manuals, instructions, as well. Anything with lots of illustrations. And though poetry works well enough in the standard e-book formats, it really can be presented more effectively in the fixed-page PDF. The novel, admittedly, works quite well as Kindle or EPUB.

We note that the PDF has a certain popularity with the ‘literary’ world. Perhaps because those who inhabit that world spend a lot of time in front of computer screens. What I’m getting at here is that we are going to start offering more of our titles for download as PDFs. A few are already available free in that format and we will add to those, when we can, as we can. The next will be Stephen Brooke’s collection of fantasy short stories, ‘Lands Far Away.’ It was always intended that the digital version would be free (as are his poetry collections) with a print book available for purchase.

How soon we might make novels available in PDF form in our own store is uncertain. It will happen but may take some time to roll out and include all our titles. This will be part of the process of changing the distribution of all our e-books, as we are no longer going to use Lulu for that service. Essentially, EPUB and PDF will be available at our store at Lulu and as a few free titles at our site, and Kindle books may be purchased at Amazon. Of course, print will continue to be distributed ‘everywhere.’

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Update on Distribution

We have worked out a future distribution plan for our ebooks (print will remain as is). First, we are able to announce that Stephen Brooke's CITY OF WIZARDRY is now available as a Kindle offering at: 

We had been attempting to get this straightened out with Lulu's distribution since August! We chose to finally place it at Amazon directly, using their desk top conversion software. It does not allow as much customization as creating an epub (with Calibre and Sigil) but it looks perfectly good and the process is much more straightforward than most. We will do this with all future offerings and, eventually, go back through the rest of our catalog. There is no great hurry on the latter, and books already in distribution can continue so indefinitely.

And, to be sure, we will continue to sell direct from our store at Lulu, in epub format (linked from our own site, of course). That and Amazon may be our only two ebook outlets in the future; dealing with Google Books, Barnes and Noble, etc seems more trouble and time than is practical but we'll see about that. There are three advantages to this streamlined approach. First, the simplicity of just getting the books out there. Second, Lulu will no longer get a cut of the ebooks they distribute for us, and Third, we do not need to invest in an ISBN for the ebook editions. All this is to the good. Expect our next release, WHEN MAN WAS YOUNG, to appear at Amazon on schedule, by March 20.

Monday, February 1, 2021

Releases Through Summer



Releases dates for books from Arachis Press through August 2021:

When Man Was Young - a science fiction novel from Stephen Brooke - March 20
The Moon and I - a poetry collection from Stephen Brooke - May 15
Among the Many Worlds - a science fiction novel from Oliver Davis Pike - June 19
Lands Far Away - a short story collection from Stephen Brooke - Aug 7

Saturday, January 16, 2021

E-Book Distribution

We will be changing our ebook release strategy, primarily because of our distributor, Lulu. We have never had any real problems with the company for print fulfillment but their ebook distribution has been problematic. This was more so in 2020 after their complete redesign of their site and interface. Some of our ebooks never did get to where they should be and we did get tired of attempting to straighten it out.

Now, they announce that there will a charge to distribute any new ebooks. This was enough to decide us to distribute directly from now on, to Amazon and other sites. This means we will no longer need to give Lulu a cut of the profit (much less pay that initial fee). It also means we don't really need to allot an ISBN to the ebooks. That saves some expense too. Of course, it's a little more work for us.

In time, we will probably move the distribution of all our older ebooks away from Lulu as well. There's no great hurry on that. And we will continue to sell them directly on our store there, along side the print editions.

Coming in 2021

Time to announce some upcoming titles—those for which we have release dates set. Be assured, other books will follow these this year.

First is the science fiction time-travel novel WHEN MAN WAS YOUNG from Stephen Brooke. Release date is set for March 20, 2021. The cover:

And a blurb:

Ken Sasaki and his fellow time-travelers paid well for the Neanderthal experience—two weeks living with an Ice Age tribe, becoming part of that tribe.

Things did not quite work out that way. The last minute addition of a woman scientist to their group caused some grumbling. That proved to be the least of their problems as they found themselves struggling for survival in an inhospitable world, an age ago When Man Was Young.

A novel from Stephen Brooke and the Arachis Press

The second is a poetry collection from Stephen Brooke, THE MOON AND I. Coming May 15.

The moon and I conversed last night ~

These poems are conversations with the moon, with the night, with the soul. The birds and the wind, dreams and memory, speak in this collection from Stephen Brooke, THE MOON AND I.

Further releases will be announced as we decide on release dates.