Twenty years of poetry collections from Stephen Brooke. The first of these, PIECES OF THE MOON, was our debut as a publisher. All twelve remain available as print from book retailers everywhere, or as print or free ebooks at the Arachis Press site.
Wednesday, September 13, 2023
We (at last?) have a completely up to date and finished website (arachispress.com). The latest books are up, every print book we offer is directly linked to our own store (though they may be purchased elsewhere), and all the ebooks are now free to download. Yes, there is a page with them all listed, in PDF and EPUB format.
We had given the free thing thought for quite a long time and finally decided we would prefer to have the books read than to hope to make a few dollars now and again. Especially in that we do not deal with Amazon and no longer create Kindle editions. This includes every book by Stephen Brooke, Sienna Santerre, and Oliver Davis Pike.
Saturday, September 9, 2023
2023 marks the tenth anniversary of the publication of Stephen Brooke’s first fantasy novels (or one novel in four parts, if one prefers), the books of Donzalo’s Destiny. We have gone to new typography for the books, and the new versions are now up at the Arachis Press store. It may take a while for the revised editions to show up at other book retailers. Here are links to the print novels:
I. THE SONG OF THE SWORD: https://www.lulu.com/shop/stephen-brooke/the-song-of-the-sword/paperback/product-14mjeen6.html
II. THE SHADOW OF ASAK: https://www.lulu.com/shop/stephen-brooke/the-shadow-of-asak/paperback/product-18kdndrz.html
III. THE SIGN OF THE ARROW: https://www.lulu.com/shop/stephen-brooke/the-sign-of-the-arrow/paperback/product-1mwvn86k.html
IV. THE HAND OF THE SORCERER: https://www.lulu.com/shop/stephen-brooke/the-hand-of-the-sorcerer/paperback/product-1yn2v8g7.html
We are also making downloads of the novels completely free in EPUB and PDF ebook formats:
Monday, September 4, 2023
This summer, we undertook the somewhat ambitious (or at least time-consuming) project of new typesetting for almost all of our books (only one remained untouched). This involved both using a new program and, for most, new fonts. And, of course, each book needed to be proofread, which added considerable time to the process.
The program we used was nothing more than LibreOffice, which is generally known as a word processing app but is also more than adequate for typesetting. Definitely better than Word or anything of that sort, as it was originally designed along the lines of a desktop publishing program. No, it won’t do all the things InDesign or Scribus can but it is completely acceptable for a typical novel.
We also moved away from the Bitstream typefaces in which the majority of our books were set. These were included with the Corel programs we own and use, but the licensing was always a bit nebulous. No one, Corel included, seemed to know whether it was acceptable to use them in print books. Be that as it may, they were also becoming a bit outdated, being all in truetype format; nothing wrong with that, to be sure, but we do appreciate the options offered by opentype.
Not that all the opentype fonts we are using provide those options. Some of our titles now use typefaces from SoftMaker. These are definitely licensed for print books and most, as with Bitstream, are clones of fonts that have been around a while. In many cases, we simply plugged in the SoftMaker alternative to what we had originally used. To be sure, they are never quite the same size and formatting must be adjusted.
But we are definitely moving toward open license fonts for future offerings. These days, there are plenty of perfectly good typefaces available for free, and free to use for anything. One can find quite a few at Google Fonts but it should be recognized the majority of offerings there are geared toward online use, not print. This includes the latest versions of fonts that have been around a while, such as EB Garamond and Crimson—we recommend going to the original projects, rather than the redesigns done specifically for Google.
We have finished this redesign and now comes the process of getting all the new versions up. This is not high priority, as the old versions are (mostly, anyway) well-enough done. But we will replace them over the next few months. More importantly, perhaps, we are also going to put all the ebooks (EPUB and PDF) up on our own site as free downloads. Getting those up should take some time too, as well as removing them from the store (at Lulu). Print will continue to be for sale and distributed to pretty much all booksellers, Amazon included.
Incidentally, we would recommend not buying the Kindle versions we had up at Amazon. It is to be assumed those will disappear eventually.
Wednesday, August 2, 2023
The new and revised edition of Stephen Brooke's picture book, A MOUSE IS IN THE HOUSE, is up at the Arachis Press store: https://www.lulu.com/.../paperback/product-1v9qye8z.html
Most of the changes were improved typesetting. The story and pictures remain the same! We may soon upload PDF versions (both color and b/w) to our site for free (or pay what you will) download.
Monday, July 31, 2023
The open license Linux Libertine typeface is sometimes touted as a Times New Roman replacement, though the two do not look particularly similar. Libertine is more in the style of such mid-20th Century neoclassical designs as Berling and Palatino.
But it is metrically equivalent to Times. That is, the same words in either typeface should take up about the same amount of space on a page. This means Libertine, as Times, is somewhat closely spaced, though it does not tend to look as cramped in long lines of text. We might compare it more to Adobe’s Minion, which is similarly economically spaced (and expresses a similar design aesthetic).
It may be noted that other typefaces also are equivalent to Times New Roman. That was a common goal in the early days of free typefaces, when TNR was ubiquitous both on and off line. The popular Gentium is one of the most successful of these, though it has more of a Goudy-like appearance (to us, anyway).
Is Libertine a decent typeface? Would we use it as book text? The answer must be a definite ‘maybe.’ One can pick at little details of the design but overall we feel it works pretty well. Definitely as well as many commercial fonts available. But, as Palatino, we might be inclined to reserve it for jobs other than novels. Poetry, perhaps—we have employed Gentium effectively for collections, making sure to keep it relatively large and well spaced. These are type faces that need room to breathe, that might look crowded on the page of a typical novel. Or, as with Minion (or even Times), Libertine could be effective in books or magazines with the text laid out in double columns, on wider pages.
This does not mean we would never use it a body text in a novel. We tested replacing the Berling we used in a couple novels with Linux Libertine and it fitted rather well. Yes, and it looked pretty good, too. So perhaps a future novel from Arachis Press will appear set in Libertine; we do intend to move to open license type, after all, and this one should give us no surprises. It can be one of those workmanlike choices we should all have available as a fall-back choice.
And we would be willing to recommend it as a choice for someone new to setting up a novel (or other book). It will work—and it’s way better than Times!
Saturday, July 15, 2023
Today, July 15 2023, is the official release date for Stephen Brooke’s latest fantasy novel, STONES IN THE SEA. Here are the links for print and ebook at our store:
Print should show up retailers 'everywhere' eventually, if it has not already.
We also continue to roll out new editions of our books with revised typesetting. That is a matter of both licensing and improved appearance.
Friday, May 12, 2023
We have set the official release date for Stephen Brooke's new fantasy novel, "Stones in the Sea," for July 15, 2023. It will be available in print, PDF, and EPUB. Here is the cover:
And the rear cover blurb:
Where to sail but west after escaping his Chilean prison? Into the depths of the Pacific voyaged Yankee seaman Dick Brown, seeking refuge and rest beyond the horizon. What he found was another world, one where his coming had been prophesied, where his destiny was tied to the mystic gems known as the Jewels of the Elements. On lost islands, in mountain fastnesses, Dick discovers that destiny and his place in a new world.
STONES IN THE SEA, a novel by Stephen Brooke
Tuesday, April 11, 2023
We began our publishing journey twenty years ago with the release of Stephen Brooke's first poetry collection, "Pieces of the Moon." On the 21st we will officially publish his twelfth collection (and our 52nd book), "Islanders." Available in print, PDF, and EPUB.
Monday, April 10, 2023
Not long ago, I was recommending Crimson Pro over earlier versions of the Crimson typeface, which had various relatively minor problems. The Pro version was a redesign (not by the original designer) done at the request of Google. There were some fairly noticeable changes to the appearance but the other improvements made these acceptable. Crimson Pro remains a perfectly good and usable typeface, but one that is perhaps better for online use than print.
Then I found that Crimson Text had undergone a revision last year that addressed most of the problems. The Text version, at least to me, seems a more attractive font and a better choice for print. Pro seems to have a taller x-height, the details of serifs etc are more squared-off, and it has other small changes that might make it more readable on a web page but are not so desirable on a printed page. Not that it wouldn’t work, but Crimson Text looks more suited to that role, as well as more 'elegant' (which is very much a matter of personal judgement and taste). There have been comparisons of Crimson to Adobe’s Minion—and one can find similarities—but to my eye, it is more reminiscent of Plantin. And, as Plantin, it is an unassuming, do-it-all, Garamond-esque typeface (although Plantin derives more from the type of Granjon than Garamond). Crimson Text is certainly a useful font to have available.
Make certain you are getting the 2022 version of Crimson Text. What is offered at Google Fonts may not be the latest iteration but the face can be found at its GitHub project page. One of the problems with earlier Crimson type was that it didn’t always print properly in POD applications. This has supposedly been remedied but it would be prudent to watch for that sort of problem (it’s not the only typeface that’s been problematic in POD, including some that are commercial offerings).
No, Arachis Press has not released any books set in any version of Crimson. We almost certainly will, even if we do have a licensed version of Plantin available (we’ve used Plantin in a half-dozen books). It’s just the sort of fall-back typeface that is useful to have in ones toolkit, with an open license so we never need to worry about commercial use.
Monday, March 27, 2023
The Mid-Twentieth Century saw the emergence of what are sometimes called (accurately enough) ‘humanist slab-serif’ typefaces. These retained—for the most part—the rectangular serifs of earlier slab fonts but varied the axis and the other strokes to create a more humanist feel to the forms, as with the humanist sans faces that were appearing in the same period. One seemingly simple yet elegant example is Candida, which received greater recognition when Bitstream reissued it half a century later.
Around the same time, the company released a somewhat similar humanist slab of their own design, Prima. At first glance, they seem quite alike but one begins to pick out the differences quickly enough. Prima is rather unlovely beside Candida, but the latter undoubtedly influenced (or inspired) its design. It may be noted that Prima, as Adobe’s Utopia and Bitstream’s own Charter, was designed to work well with the low resolution printers of its time.
A second look will tell us Prima is pretty much identical to Bitstream’s Vera Serif, which has since developed into Deja Vu, a popular and widespread free font. Why the name change? In part, we would assume, to mark it as their open license (more or less) offering. An entire family of different fonts was attached to both Prima and Vera, sans and mono versions, designed with the same uses in mind. Deja Vu Serif is certainly a decent enough font, and beloved of the open source community, but we would be unlikely to use it to print a book.
Candida, maybe, but we’d have to pay for a license! In honesty, it’s not the sort of typeface we’d normally consider for a novel. Perhaps for some niche project it would be just the thing. There are, to be sure, other nice-looking humanist slab-serif typefaces available, and some are even open license. It has again become a rather popular concept and more than one recent release, such as IBM’s big family of typefaces, has reflected the trend. By the way, we think IBM Plex Serif is decidedly ugly (a pastiche of varying styles). We’d take Deja Vu over it, any day—it, at least, stays true to its concept.
Kameron, by Vernon Adams, looks pretty decent and is available from Google Fonts. Its lack of a separate italic is, however, problematic, and it is perhaps not really suitable to book text. To be sure, there are also a number of faces that almost fit the classification but are not quite humanist or not quite true slabs. There is not a big gap between humanist slab-serifs and some neoclassical fonts. As always, how they look on the page is more important than what category we place them in.
Monday, March 6, 2023
Softmaker, a software company from Germany, has been selling digital fonts for quite a long time. We recently purchased their Megafont package, some 7500 fonts with a commercial license, for thirty-five US dollars. This seems like a pretty good deal for a small publisher; we can print books with them without any restriction (other than the number of computers on which they may be installed). So—are they as good a buy as they seem?
The first thing to note is that of those thousands of fonts, more than a third are ‘special effects’ versions of the other fonts: outlined, antiqued, etc. These would prove somewhat useless to most of us and we would be unlikely to ever install most of them. Yes, I could possibly see using one in the main titling of a book or something of that sort.
The ‘normal’ fonts are of three sorts, some licensed or reissued from older (often out-of-business) foundries, some outright clones of older type (and not always done that well), and a few original fonts created for Softmaker. It should be noted that the quality of the fonts has improved since Softmaker (and others) started issuing digital type, decades ago. It should also be noted that the big-name foundries (many of which have been bought up by Monotype now) were not always that good either with their digital fonts.
I can not complain about the quality of the typefaces in the package (aside from the aforementioned special effects variants). Most are usable enough, though some lack italics or weights we might want. It is not always easy to tell what other typeface they might mimic, either—what is included might or might not provide a desired replacement font. They tend to be heavy on older and somewhat old-fashioned fonts, from the late Nineteenth–early Twentieth Century period. Many would not be a first (nor even second) choice for publishing modern fiction (though they could work, if nothing else were available).
I will say right here that one could publish quite decent books with nothing but open license typefaces, such as the ones available on Google Fonts. Many of those are geared toward online use rather than print but others are perfectly usable. EB Garamond, Alegreya, Crimson Pro—I would not hesitate to use one of those in a print book. The venerable Charter and Utopia are good too. I could keep listing useful fonts, but back to the Megafont package.
Some fonts from Softmaker have already proven of use. We have redesigned the novel ‘The Crocodile God’ (a fantasy adventure by Stephen Brooke) with their Gareth, a stand-in for Galliard, and it looks just fine. We may revise other books from time to time, though there is no great hurry about it. New books are entirely likely to use open license type, but it is nice to have something to plug into revisions or new additions to a series. The Softmaker package is, if nothing else, security, a back up source of typefaces. The $35 is a fairly good deal really; one could spend that much for a single commercial font.
To be sure, this typeface collection includes many that would be of more use to a designer than a publisher. After all, we do need to design ads and book covers and such, too, so they may well prove useful. Whether I would recommend it to a graphic designer, I’m not so sure. Oh, at that price, why not?
But for the everyday user, maybe not. This is an investment—albeit a small one—in commercial typefaces. For personal use, one would do as well to stick to what is available free. There are more good choices every day!
Friday, February 24, 2023
Here are links to JUMPING JACK at our store. This is the second Jack Mack science fiction novel by Oliver Davis Pike, official release date February 25, 2023. The print edition should be available from retailers everywhere.
Sunday, February 12, 2023
We are less that two weeks away from the official release on February 25 2023 of the second Jack Mack science fiction novel from Oliver Davis Pike. The cover and a blurb:
Young Jack McFee’s prowess as a jump
ship pilot has earned him the nickname Jumping Jack. He is only the
second person to leap through the Wall, the great cloud of dust and
gas bordering Scotian space. Jack would as soon continue patrolling
deep space with his almost-too-smart ship’s AI, but he won’t be
permitted. A drawn-out war that is not going well, attempts on his
powerful grandfather’s life, and the duty of protecting a
princess—whom he rather likes—draw him back into action in
JUMPING JACK, the second Jack Mack science fiction novel by Oliver
Wednesday, January 25, 2023
Tuesday, January 10, 2023
Loads of free typefaces flooded the internet pretty much as soon as there was an internet. Many of them were pretty awful, perhaps having some use as display fonts but definitely not suited for use as print text. We’re talking original typefaces here, not clones or copies of older designs (though they certainly could be inspired by them). We’ll write of five serif body-text faces from those early days that were good enough to have survived and flourished.
The first is Deja Vu, the darling of open license fans everywhere, and common in the Linux world. This font has undergone various iterations and redesigns since a form of it first appeared as Bitstream’s Prima, later morphing into Vera and the Deja Vu most commonly distributed today. As some of its successful contemporaries, it was designed to work well with low resolution screens and printers, having simplified forms. Deja Vu is essentially in the humanist slab-serif style, with similarities to such older typefaces as Candida. There have been plenty enough new fonts (many free) of this sort released since but they are not necessarily any better. Not that Deja Vu is a particularly attractive font—we doubt we would print a novel in it. Possibly it could be useful for nonfiction or brochures or that sort of thing; it is readable at quite small sizes.
Bitstream released another font into the wild, intended for much the same roles: Matthew Carter’s Charter. This one draws from the Fournier designs of the Eighteenth Century (as does the somewhat more recent and similar Adobe Source Serif) but simplifies them into a sturdy and attractive font suited to the needs of the time. As computers and printers improved, those needs lessened but Charter remains a quite good and quite free typeface. We would have no qualms about printing a fiction book in Charter (or nonfiction, for that matter), though there are more ‘elegant’ choices. It is a do-it-all font.
As is Adobe’s Utopia, which was designed with much the same roles in mind. Utopia has something of a slab-serif look to it but also draws from ‘Transitional’ and ‘Modern’ typefaces such as Baskerville. It is another all-purpose font. Adobe intended it as a Times alternative, for office use; although it never caught on for that role it remains a quite good typeface. We have issued fiction books set in Utopia. It provides a balance of modern utility and classic elegance. Were we forced to use one font for everything, it might well be our choice. Utopia became free, apparently, somewhat by accident. Be that as it may, it is definitely free to use as we will these days.
Our final two, Gentium and Linux Libertine, were not designed with the shortcomings of early computing in mind, but as traditional typefaces from their origin. Both are frequently referred to as Times replacements, and compared to that font, but we do not find either particularly similar to the Times typeface. Oh, some, to be sure; any serif text face is bound to have similarities or it would become unreadable!
Gentium does share one quality with Times and that is that it is somewhat closely spaced. That is the big problem with Times; it was designed for use in narrow newspaper columns and can become too dense on a book-width page (not to mention a sheet of typewriter paper). Gentium isn’t quite so tightly packed but it is something of which one should be aware. We have used it for poetry books but not for novels. This is not to say we never would. To us, Gentium has a bit of a Goudy-esque feel, with definite calligraphic elements. It is a nice looking but not ostentatious font, workman-like and most certainly usable.
Libertine draws somewhat from the mid-Twentieth Century neo-humanist movement that gave us such typefaces as Palatino and Berling. Although it has never caught on to any great extent as a book font, it may be found in use all over the internet. Wikipedia is the most obvious example. That familiarity could admittedly be a strike against using it for print. We have not used it for a book yet, but intend to in upcoming releases (as a replacement for the above-mentioned Berling). Libertine has the bonus of a true matching sans, Linux Biolinum (Deja Vu Sans has no family resemblance to Deja Vu Serif).
These five have been around for over thirty years, plenty enough time to be thoroughly tested. We would have no reservations about their dependability; whether they have the appearance one desires is another question and one that must be answered on an individual, book-by-book basis. But they will get the job done; they will not let one down.
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
We are a few days from the release of Stephen Brooke's new Hocking Hills mystery, THESE REMEMBERED HILLS, officially out this weekend, Saturday January 7, 2023. It is available right now in our store and print should be with book retailers everywhere (soon, if not right now—ISBN is 978-1-937745-85-1). Here are links to the novel in our store:
'Remembered Hills' is also up at GoodReads, with early reviews: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/63945869-these-remembered-hills
We shall shortly be announcing a definite release date for Oliver Davis Pike's latest Jack Mack science fiction novel, 'Jumping Jack.' Probably toward the end of February or early March!