How Not To Make a Book

Shift Happens


This here newsletter is about the terrible first drafts, the design slip-ups, the misprints, and all the tiny failures that go into making a beautiful printed book, so it feels somewhat cruel to mention Marcin Wichary’s Shift Happens in the same breath here.

Because Marcin has made something wonderful.

A picture of Marcin’s book Shift Happens

Shift Happens is a book full of stories—keyboards, typewriters, and the centuries of weird experiments that went into them—but it’s also a wonderfully researched book filled with gorgeous photographs and material scooped up from dusty archives. Marcin mentions this in a post all about what his book means to him:

You can read my book’s words and completely ignore the photos, and hopefully you’ll have a great time. You can also buy it just for the photos – for yourself or as a gift – and you will enjoy it also. But the best course of action is, of course, doing both.

For years now I’ve watched Marcin slowly make this thing, I’ve seen his early designs and typographic choices, his designs for the cover, and all the lovely things he’s made around the book. But the reason why I mention Marcin here in this newsletter is because I see books like Shift Happens as the end goal. With all those little failures lined up, all those frustrating book-making moments piled on top of each other, all those evenings of desperate frustration working on that bad first and second and third draft, this is what might happen if we’re lucky; a book like Shift Happens might come out the other side.

A remarkable book worthy of all that effort.

A picture of Marcin’s book Shift Happens

So next week, on Tuesday Feb 7th, I’ll be chatting with Marcin in a livestream for the launch of his book. Earlier that morning Marcin’s Kickstarter for the book opens up and then shortly after we’re going to celebrate in the livestream. There’s so much to talk about! There’s the painstaking research Marcin has poured into this book investigating keyboards, plus there’s a million questions I want to ask him about the design process, the photographs, the typesetting, the people that make up the stories in his book and, of course, what Marcin’s favorite keyboards are.

We’re going to run the livestream over on YouTube and you can subscribe here to get pinged when we’re live. It all starts at 11am PST / 2pm EST / 7pm GMT.

We hope to see you there!
✌️ Robin