Friday, September 12, 2008

Book Update And My Latest Invention

The latest book news involves talk of printers shipping to distributors and other fun technical stuff like that. What that means is it should actually be in your hands soon! Remember, whatever the official "pub date" ends up being--that doesn't necessarily mean you can't get the book until then. Amazon shows October 12th--but if things go well it could be shipped to bookstores before then. The key is, since we're close to actually having copies of the final product in our hands, we can start to reschedule earlier events that we had to, ahem, delay since the release got delayed. I know you want specifics--I'll post them as soon as I can! And maybe you can come out and meet us at a reading or a signing. We've got some fun stuff planned. In the meantime, you can still pre-order. And if you're new and don't know what the hell I'm talking about, the book is Dirty Water: A Red Sox Mystery, written by myself and my mother, Mary-Ann Tirone Smith.

Okay, now for my big idea. I think this is a good one, and as far as I know, this is finally one where I'm saying it before someone else thinks of it. You know how every letter in a font looks the same? Even in wackier fonts, like those "kids' handwriting" fonts, they go for the appearance of just some random kid's sloppy writing, but every time I see that, I can't help but notice that every B is the same, every E is the same, etc. Which to me is completely contrary to what a font like that should be about. In fact, those aren't supposed to look like print at all, but like a person actually wrote it out with a pen. But only a robot person would make every T or every Q the same as all their other ones. So my idea is this: A font with 1,000 different versions of each letter/character. They'd all look essentially the same--as if written by one human--but with very slight variations. When you type the E key, it randomly generates one of the 1,000 Es for you. So every sentence looks like it was written out by hand. You could even get into having the spacing between letters change verrry slightly, to give it a more real feel. You could even personalize it! You write a 1,000 of each letter, and they all get fed into the font. Or write 10,000 of each. People could go to this crazy font store, write out as many of each character as they want, and the thing would electronically capture each one and give you back your own personalized handwriting font. So you could write an email or do a flier or whatever on the computer, and it would come out exactly as if you had written in out in your own handwriting.

(Of course, I recommend just getting a pen and actually writing it. But people will buy anything.)

So, can anyone make this happen? Or direct me to someone who can? Or just do it yourself? Look, you can keep the money you make from it, just skim, say, 20,000 dollars off the top each year and send it to me in unmarked bills every December.

[Example of a "kid font." They call this one "Andy." I'm sorry, but if I know Andy, he'd never write a story and have every single M look IDENTICAL to all the others. They do give you a variation or two on some letters, but nothing like what I'm proposing.]

That's a great idea! Though at first I thought you were suggesting someone invent the ransom note, with each letter a different font, and i was, well, non-plussed.

But now I'm totally plussed, and on board!

I have terrible handwriting- I never learned, plus, since I think much faster than I can handwrite, I get bored or impatient with whatever letter i'm forming, and i move on to the next one without finishing it. So my print has lots of unfinished, half-formed squiggles. But if I could just take the time to make the letters sort of correct just once, i could reproduce my feverish scrawl at the pace of thinking!


of course, as a philosopher, I can offer zero help on the logistics of making this happen. But i can approve of it while stroking a beard...
OK, this font idea is actually very clever! You are 100% correct - no one writes each letter exactly the same each time. Sorry I don't know how to do this but I'll mention it to some of my techie/geekie friends for you.

In other news, I'll be in the greater New England area from Sept 28 to Oct 3. Any chance a copy of your book will be available by then? I'd love to buy you a cup of coffee at a local shop and have you autograph a copy of the book. Otherwise it will need to be through the mail since I'm not sure when I'll make it back to New England.

Thanks Jere!
"But if I could just take the time to make the letters sort of correct just once, i could reproduce my feverish scrawl at the pace of thinking!"


Glad you guys like the idea. I came up with it as early as 2001, because I remember suggesting it to a co-worker at a job I was at then. SHe was gonna tell her hubby who had some kind of font-inventing connection, but nothing became of that. She also had a son named Jackson, after Jackson Pollack.

Anyway, Jeff, just keep watching here and at the book blog- for the schedule of events. Hopefully it's out by the time you leave here!
You really need to get a patent on this. Awesome idea!
Will these future events involve a book signing in Florida?

Love the font idea!
An interesting idea, Jere, but I'm glad I'm not involved in the manufacturing process.
The review of your compelling book is up over at my place. It was splitsville yesterday at Fenway, but without that late rally, it could have been much worse. Congrats to you and your mom for writing such a pageturner. Enjoy the Sunday...hi to the cats.

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