Perhaps one of the simplest aspects of the back matter is the colophon. Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s not important – quite the opposite, actually. Where the publisher is concerned, the colophon may be the most important part of the back matter. The colophon contains all the technical information pertaining to the book, including the type and publisher or printer. A lot of books use a colophon, in some form or another; it’s not just limited to one specific category or genre.
What is a Colophon?
The colophon is a brief section that states publisher (name, location, date, insignia) and book production information. Historically, colophons were always located in the back matter, but, nowadays, they’re can also be featured in the front matter, after the title page, along with copyright details.
The word “colophon” comes from the Greek “κολοφών” meaning “summit” or “finishing touch.” Around the turn of the 20th century, private and commercial presses began including colophons in the back of their books and listed different technical and material information about the book: the front, paper type, binding process, cover material, etc. This simply adds another layer of recognition for the publisher and the work that went into turning the story into a physical book.
The most common version of a colophon in the back matter that you’re likely to see nowadays is a section called “Note About The Type.” This may seem odd, but it’s necessary to make note of. Colophons may also be used to identify book designers, software used, type of printer used, and the kind of ink.
Including a Colophon in Your Self-Published Book
Just as with anything else, no one is going to force you to include a colophon in your self-published book. Everything – from the cover to the words to the back matter – is entirely your decision as the writer and publisher. However, when you self-publish a book, a lot of hard work goes into its creation. The printer works hard to ensure you have a beautiful, bookshelf-worthy product that you’ll be proud to sell and give to readers.
When you print with DiggyPOD, there are a plethora of printing options for you to choose from: from paper type to cover details to binding. These choices tell a story, too. Certain types of paper work better in different books (are there pictures in your book? Choose a thicker paper). Certain binding options look better than others (spiral binding is great for cookbooks, hardcover is perfect for fiction). And – believe it or not – even the font is a crucial choice (nonfiction books will use clean, simple fonts, while the font used in a children’s book will be bigger, more colorful, and fun).
Since colophons are versatile and serve to give the details of the book, you can use a colophon in any kind of book that DiggyPOD prints – from mystery novels to memoirs to yearbooks. Using a colophon in a yearbook is especially useful, as you can include staff information, book printer, book specifications, etc. Here are a few more examples:
An example of a colophon in a nonfiction book, from The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison:
The text of The Empathy Exams is set in Adobe Jenson Pro, a typeface drawn by Robert Slimbach and based on late-fifteenth-century types by the printer Nicolas Jenson. This book was designed by Ann Sudmeier. Composition by BookMobile Design & Digital Publisher Services, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Manufactured by Versa Press on acid-free 30 percent postconsumer wastepaper.
An example of a colophon in a fiction book, from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad:
This book is set in CASLON, designed and engraved by William
Caslon of WILLIAM CASLON & SON, Letter-Founders in
London, around 1740. In England, at the beginning of
the eighteenth century, Dutch type was probably
more widely used than English. The rise
of William Caslon put a stop to the
importation of Dutch types
and so changed the his-
tory of English typecutting.
Again, though the colophon may seem simple, it’s an important piece to include in your self-published book. Though it traditionally started as a part of the back matter, it can also be included in the front matter.