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A cute vintage robot stacks wooden blocks with letters and numbers on them.

Automation is great, but it won’t work for my books

Damian Gibbs
Solutions Consultant, Typefi

The most common feedback from publishers when chatting about automation is the belief that their publications are beyond what automation can do.

As a book designer and typesetter with over 20 years’ experience in producing almost every kind of book possible, I get it.

A cute vintage robot stacks wooden blocks with letters and numbers on them.
“How could any software replace what I had taken decades to accomplish?”

The hours dedicated to ensuring each line is hyphenated correctly; taking care of widows, orphans, grunts, and rivers; deciding where to place images (with the perfect crop); appropriately placing artwork in relation to its reference in the content; adjusting leading and layouts to ensure the content fits a publication correctly; and so it goes, page after page.

As a book designer, I was so much more than a machine, and it brought in the bread and butter⁠—and some jam every now and then.

A composite image of Typefi team members at work.

Happy 20th birthday, InDesign!

10 Typefi team members lay out their InDesign memories and tips.

Morgaine Auton
Marketing Assistant, Typefi

1999 was a big year. President Clinton was acquitted, The Matrix premiered in cinemas across the globe, Napster pioneered peer-to-peer file sharing, and the Y2K bug was still capturing the public zeitgeist.

Perhaps most significantly for us here at Typefi, and for many people working in publishing around the world, the first version of Adobe InDesign was released in August of that year.

A delicious-looking cupcake with white icing and a black square decoration on top in the shape of the InDesign logo. The words '20 years' are written on the bottom of the logo. There is a pile of mixed nuts on the plate next to the cupcake.
Birthday cupcakes at CreativePro Week 2019.

Called InDesign 1.0, the 1999 version was created as a replacement for Adobe’s retiring desktop software, Adobe PageMaker, which was struggling to compete with QuarkXPress, the leading desktop publishing software at the time.

The release of the OS X compatible InDesign 2.0 in 2002 made it the first desktop publishing software in the space, helping cinch its position as an industry standard amongst Apple users in the creative industries.

An antique printing press.

The Publishing Machine: How automation makes space for creativity

Damian Gibbs
Solutions Consultant, Typefi

It is a curious thing, publishing books. I’ve never been sure if it is more art or science; either way, there is no doubt that both are involved, and one without the other amounts to naught.

Access to literature has come a long way since early handwritten manuscripts, thanks to moveable type and the printing press, largely attributed to Johannes Gutenberg. The “technology” Gutenberg leveraged was his own trade of blacksmithing. This is as far from being a scribe as you could imagine—metal versus paper, a loud, hot workshop versus the quiet library environment.

Stock photo of an antique printing press.
The printing press—an early industry disruptor!

It is unknown how or why Gutenberg formalised the concept of moveable type and the printing press, but it is an early example of “disruption” by someone “outside of the business”.

Overcoming the challenges of accessible publishing

Guy van der Kolk
Senior Solutions Consultant, Typefi

Almost five years ago, I learned about my first major project as a fresh Typefi employee: I was to implement a multilingual, multi-format accessible workflow at a specialised agency of the United Nations. No pressure!

Fortunately, I am multilingual, and had a lot of experience with multiple formats, but I had no idea what this accessibility thing was all about.

Needless to say, the learning curve was high. However, I did not have to go at it alone: colleagues had done some of this work before, and the internet is a veritable treasure trove of information.

Now, after five years of helping Typefi customers successfully implement accessible publishing workflows, I have learnt a thing or two about accessible publishing challenges—and how to overcome them—that I would like to share with you.

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