Jigsaw Puzzles, Book Design, and Typesetting

If I could live forever, I would spend a lot of that time doing jigsaw puzzles. There is almost nothing I would rather do than put together a 500- to 5,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

My personal record for putting together a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle is 29 minutes, accomplished when I was fourteen years old. My goal was to keep doing the same puzzle over and over again until I could finish it in less than 30 minutes.

My grandfather was so impressed with my jigsaw puzzle skills that he framed several of my puzzles, including a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle of a waterfront scene with a bronze plaque that read: “Andrea Reider, age 5.”

I’ve asked my mother why she let me work on such large puzzles when I was so young. She told me that it was a gradual process and that when the smaller puzzles became too easy for me I used to turn the pieces upside down and put the puzzle together without the picture.

I think typesetting and laying out books requires many of the same skills used in putting together jigsaw puzzles. One big difference is that jigsaw puzzles always come to the same conclusion, whereas a book designed and typeset by me would come out very differently from the work of another designer or typesetter.

There are hundreds of small-to-medium decisions that affect the design and layout of a book–or how long it takes to put together a jigsaw puzzle. I still love doing jigsaw puzzles, but I spend a lot more time these days designing and typesetting books.

One thought on “Jigsaw Puzzles, Book Design, and Typesetting”

Thank you! Andrea