A post from Shady Characters

The Shady Characters book, revealed!

Image courtesy of Jason Booher.
Image courtesy of Jason Booher.

Ladies and gentlemen: the Shady Characters book is now available for pre-order at W.W. Norton, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Noble and The Book Depository.

Phew. Wow, even.

After months of writing, editing and proof-reading with the help of Brendan Curry, Laurie Abkemeier, Rachelle Mandik and many others, it feels like everything has happened in a rush. The loose, printed proofs arrived in the post a couple of weeks back, closely followed by the bound proofs, and now by the appearance of the book itself at Norton, Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The bound proofs, incidentally, are a wondrous thing. The book has been set, with quite some flair, in Hoefler & Frere-Jones’ splendid Hoefler Text, and the typographic treatment is spectacular — there are certain things that don’t quite work in an electronic medium, and the physical book is just that little bit more cohesive. The pilcrow on the cover is also set in Hoefler Text, though the text is in Futura. I like it a lot, and my default sans-serif font choice of Gill Sans is under threat.

This is all still a little unreal. But not so unreal that I won’t encourage you to head over to the vendor of your choice and pre-order it as soon as you can!

13 comments on “The Shady Characters book, revealed!

  1. Comment posted by Valerie on

    Oh, wow, that’s a great cover! I added the book to my wish list on the Book Depository just now.

    Perhaps you’ve already noticed by the time I post this comment, but the links to Amazon.com and .co.uk aren’t working—just thought I’d point it out.

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Valerie — thanks for catching that, and for mentioning the Book Depository page. I’ve updated the post accordingly. And lastly, thanks for ordering!

  2. Comment posted by Les Bessant on

    Order placed. There aren’t many books I buy in printed form these days[1], but I’m happy to make an exception for what I hope will be a very nice thing to have.

    [1] For pure text, I prefer my Kindle

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Les — I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Brad Walrod, the book’s compositor, has done a great job on the paper edition. And as a lapsed programmer, I suspect that e-book composition for Shady Characters is going to be rather tricky!

  3. Comment posted by Michael Zajac on

    Any anticipated Canadian sellers?

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Michael — absolutely! The book is already on Amazon.ca, and I’ll post more vendor links as they appear.

  4. Comment posted by Esme Greenfield on

    Added to my wish list at loot.co.za! Cannot wait for September.

  5. Comment posted by Kathleen on

    Excellent news! And gorgeous cover. Will definitely be ordering a copy.

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Kathleen — thanks! I hope things are going well for you in Manchester.

  6. Comment posted by Andrew Areoff on

    I too am a big big fan of Gills Sans as I think it is just a clear-as-a-bell typeface (I should have said legible) and has that classic but somehow, not old fashioned look to it. I also like that width, it’s not narrow and awkward looking like some typefaces.

    Futura is a typeface I have used for 15 years for a client who I design insurance application forms for – I’d love to change it but its their brand typeface. I’m not a great fan of Futura in contrast, especially the question mark (I know as punctuation mark this will be of particular interest to you) which looks like a backwards S with a period beneath it – I don’t like it at all, and my client often asks me to replace it with one from a different typeface. This causes me lots of consternation, not to mention extra work of course.

    Great book, look forward to ordering a copy when it launches as I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts about punctuation and the like.

    1. Comment posted by Keith Houston on

      Hi Andrew — I think that rather than preferring Futura as a typeface, it may just be that I’m reaching Gill Sans saturation point. It seems to be the official typeface for the British establishment: I see it on gov.uk, at the National Library of Scotland, in the BBC logo; more or less everywhere, really!

      That said, Futura’s question mark is nice.

      Thanks for the comment, and I’m really happy that you enjoy the blog. Glad to be of service!

  7. Comment posted by annie morgan on


  8. Comment posted by Mustafa on

    Preordered. Cover looks good and I think this is going to make some great light reading during my idle time at work.

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