Hebrew Voices #20 – Adventures in Hebrew Typesetting (Rebroadcast)

Hebrew Voices - Adventures in Hebrew Typesetting - Nehemia Gordon with Rapahel FreemanIn this episode of Hebrew Voices, Adventures in Hebrew Typesetting, Nehemia Gordon chats with Raphael Freeman, world-class typesetter and Founder of Renana Publishers in Modiin, Israel. Gordon and Freeman discuss the special challenges of Hebrew typesetting from the letterpress era to the digital age. With its consonants, vowels, dagesh, two sets of accent marks, and myriads of combinations, creating fonts for Hebrew is considered by Microsoft to be more complicated than for Chinese.

Freeman relates stories from some of his previous work at the Jerusalem Post, for the Encyclopedia Judaica, and for the Koren Bible. We also learn how his Orthodox Jewish beliefs led him to move from the UK to Israel—and eventually to form a company that creates digital books for the iPad—books that include video, audio, photo galleries, pop-up footnotes, study cards, hyperlinks, and more. It seems adventures in typesetting have only begun.

I look forward to reading your comments!

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Transcript

Hebrew Voices #20 - Adventures in Hebrew Typesetting

You are listening to Hebrew Voices with Nehemia Gordon. Thank you for supporting Nehemia Gordon's Makor Hebrew Foundation. Learn more at NehemiasWall.com.

Raphael: And the law in Israel was actually changed on account of this.

Nehemia: You’re kidding me.

Raphael: Actually, that was the reason why the law firm didn’t actually charge the font boundary to sue Microsoft. They did it for free, because they wanted their things to be in the Israel law books. Crazy, crazy.

Nehemia: This is adventures in Hebrew typesetting, it really is. Wow.

Benjamin Netanyahu: Le ma’an Zion lo ekhesheh, u’l’ma’an Yerushalayim lo eshkot. (For Zion’s sake I will not be silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest. Isaiah 62:1)

Nehemia: Shalom, I am here in Modi'in, Israel with Raphael Freeman. Shalom Raphael, it's great to be here with you. This episode I'm calling "Adventures in Typesetting,” and maybe it's "Adventures in Hebrew Typesetting.” Raphael is the best typesetter in Israel for Hebrew and English, and he also happens to be married to the best and greatest real estate agent in Modi'in, Israel, who also happens to be my sister. So, he's my brother-in-law.

Raphael: It doesn't make it not true.

Nehemia: No, it's definitely true. It's a fact. Raphael, we're going to talk today about the adventures in Hebrew typesetting. We've actually spent many hours talking about typesetting, and I find it absolutely fascinating. Where I come to it is, having a background dealing with Hebrew manuscripts and seeing how they painstakingly wrote things by hand. And then, now you in the 21st century, on computers and through your technology, you basically do what the ancient scribes did, through software.

Raphael: Indeed, yeah.

Nehemia: Tell us a little bit about your background. I know you've got a degree in computer science, printing and photographic technology from Manchester Metropolitan University, and you used to be the Vice President of production technology for the Jerusalem Post. And you currently run a business called “Renana Typesetting.” And that also is my niece's name, Renana. How did you come to that name? Not for the typesetting from it. Was the typesetting business first, and then my niece, or...?

Raphael: I had a typesetting business quite a few years ago. After I worked at the Jerusalem Post, I started my own business, and I called it at the time “Jerusalem Typesetting.” Then I went to work for another company called Koren. And then when that ended a couple of years ago, I decided to resurrect my Jerusalem Typesetting. However, I wasn't in Jerusalem anymore. We’d moved to Modi'in, so I felt it was a bit inappropriate. So, since I had spent a long time choosing my daughter's name and I liked it, I thought…

Nehemia: There you go.

Raphael: “I’ve got a name.”

Nehemia: And for those who don't know Hebrew, what does “Renana” mean?

Raphael: It means “Joy.”

Nehemia: Joy. And it also implies song, doesn't it?

Raphael: Yeah, joy and song.

Nehemia: Okay, very cool. Tell us about some of the projects you've worked on over the years with Hebrew typesetting. What are some of the exciting projects you've done?

Raphael: I'll start with the biggest project. I think the biggest project I ever did in my life was… Not I think, it was. It was Encyclopedia Judaica, the second edition, 17,000 pages.

Nehemia: 17,000 pages. And the original Encyclopedia Judaica was in, I believe, in 1971. It was a physical book. Did they make a physical encyclopedia out of what you created?

Raphael: Yes, yes, you can buy it… and you can buy it, it's about $1,700, I believe, in price.

Nehemia: And that's considered probably the definitive word on Judaic subjects?

Raphael: Yes, yeah. I think that would be...

Nehemia: Certainly, from an encyclopedia perspective.

Raphael: Indeed, yeah.

Nehemia: The Encyclopedia Judaica. Wow, so 17,000 pages you did?

Raphael: Yes.

Nehemia: And so, what were some of the Hebrew challenges that you ran into with Encyclopedia Judaica?

Raphael: So overall, there were actually, I would say, three different challenges that we had. The first challenge was the regular challenge whenever you have an English text with Hebrew interspersed within the paragraphs, so we had to deal with that. The second challenge was that in this Encyclopedia they had decided that they want to delineate the letter khet with an H with a dot underneath, which doesn't exist in most typefaces. And the typeface that we had chosen, Minion, did not have that dot underneath. And the third challenge was, there was one particular entry, it was only a page or so, which was on Masorah, which took me about 50 hours, not to exaggerate. Today, I could probably do it in about half-an-hour. But with the technology that I had at the time it took a full 50 hours. And it was very difficult, because they used what we call “ta'amey mikra,” cantillation marks...

Nehemia: The Biblical accent marks.

Raphael: Exactly, within the text. And they were showing, of course, the two different kinds of accent marks. I don't remember what the names are. You’d probably know this better than I do.

Nehemia: For those who don't know, let's just go over this. In any given page of the Bible, there are three main sets of symbols and really a fourth one. You've got the consonants, the 22 letters. You have the vowels, which is a series of dots and dashes above, below, inside the letters. And then you have the accent marks, or what you call the “ta'amey mikra,” or the cantillation marks. And then, there's two different types of cantillation marks, or accent marks. There's in the 21 books, which is most of the Tanakh, and then there is in what they call “sifrey emet,” which is Job, Proverbs and Psalms. They have their own set of cantillation marks. So wow, you had to deal with all those issues. So, you're dealing with consonants, vowels, and two sets of accent marks on one page.

Raphael: The particular article of Masorah actually…

Nehemia: And what does masorah mean?

Raphael: Masorah means tradition, but here it had a different meaning, because there are two ways of drawing these accent marks. So, in Jewish teachings we tend to use these curved marks. They actually have a name for it, but I've completely forgotten what it is.

Nehemia: Okay, nobody knows, either.

Raphael: And there's another system which has diagonals. And in this particular entry they showed both systems.

Nehemia: Wow.

Raphael: And so, I had the actual symbols for the ones that I usually used, which I use today, but in the ancient texts, of course, they weren't there. So, that created more entertainment for me, hence the tremendous amount of time.

Nehemia: And for those who want to go check in their Hebrew Bibles, for example, if you look at the JPS Bible in the Hebrew side, you'll see the curved symbols. If you go to the BHS, the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia, which comes out from Germany, based on the Leningrad Codex, instead of a curve it'll be a straight line.

Raphael: That’s right, exactly.

Nehemia: And you're saying they had both of those on the same page, and you as a typesetter need to represent all of that accurately.

Raphael: Exactly.

Nehemia: Wow. People take that for granted. And you're saying, now the technology is better, but back then it was a bigger technological challenge. You know, during my master's degree, I worked on the Hebrew University Bible project. And one of the things they dealt with is, they would have the text of the Bible based on the Aleppo Codex. And then surrounding it, they would have different variants in different languages. In other words, if you read in the Greek, and there was a different word, they would quote the Greek text in Greek. And then if they had an Aramaic, for example, Syriac, which is dialect of Aramaic, they would quote the Syriac.

And what I was told is that it costs to do a volume back in the 60’s of that, because of all the different fonts and all the different characters, it cost them something like $250,000. And then when I was working on it, after the year 2000, it was a fraction of that, using computers. And one of the criticisms of the Hebrew University Bible project is, “You guys have been working on this since the ‘60’s. What's taking so long?” And the real answer was the cost of typesetting. You know, that was what was keeping this Bible being done. Imagine that; $250,000 for typesetting. I bet you would have liked to have gotten that job.

Raphael: Yes, it would have been useful.

Nehemia: So now, you mentioned working on the Jerusalem Post, and that's really cool. You were running actual physical printing presses, right?

Raphael: Yeah.

Nehemia: Did you ever get the opportunity to yell, “Stop the presses?”

Raphael: Yes.

Nehemia: Tell us about that.

Raphael: It wasn't quite as exciting. Well, basically, what would happen is that the newspaper would go to press at a specific time in the evening, I think it was around 10 o'clock at night. And it was very, very critical that we went to press at a specific time, because otherwise, we would miss the distribution. And if we missed the distribution, we'd have to send newspapers in taxis around the country.

And we actually calculated the cost of what it would mean if we were 15 minutes late, or half-an-hour late. So, what would happen is, if an ad came in late at night, and if the people who were paying for the ad paid significantly more than the cost of being 15 minutes late, or half-an-hour late etc., we would take that ad and we would say, “Stop the presses.”

Nehemia: And for those who don't know, Jerusalem Post is, or at least when you worked at it years ago, was the primary - maybe the only back then - English newspaper coming out of Jerusalem.

Raphael: It wasn't the only one.

Nehemia: It was definitely the primary one.

Raphael: Haaretz in English was there, but the Jerusalem Post in those days was definitely the...

Nehemia: And now, I think they have like jpost.co.il or something.

Raphael: jpost.com I think it is, yeah.

Nehemia: And so, you’re actually talking about not a very big country, Israel. But even then, there was a great cost of sending taxis to Kiryat Shemona, Eilat, and wherever.

Raphael: And various kibbutzim, etc.

Nehemia: People who were buying newspapers.

Raphael: If there was one guy who had a subscription to the Jerusalem Post living on some remote kibbutz somewhere, then they had to get their copy of the Jerusalem Post.

Nehemia: How many times did you ever get to stop the presses?

Raphael: I think in the three years in total that I worked there, I think it happened perhaps three times. But it was fun every time.

Nehemia: It sounds fun. Another project you worked on, you mentioned working at Koren.

Raphael: Yes.

Nehemia: Koren is famous in the Jewish world. And I should state here that you're an Orthodox Jew, is that right?

Raphael: Yes, I would define it as such.

Nehemia: And I think people, from your accent, they can figure out that you originally came from Texas, right?

Raphael: Near Texas, it's a place called “Leeds” in a small island called “England.”

Nehemia: Was that the name of the island? I thought the island was Britannia.

Raphael: I'm not sure.

Nehemia: Or is that disputed?

Raphael: It’s small.

Nehemia: This is pretty cool. We're sitting here in your office of Renana Typesetting in Modi'in, Israel, and Modi'in for me would immediately come... You know, every time I drive by Modi’in I think first of my sister, and then I also think, “This is where the Maccabees started their rebellion against the Greeks.” It was here in Modi'in. The story is that they tried to force them to participate in this pig sacrifice here in Modi'in, wherever the Biblical town of Modi'in was. And Matityahu, the father of Judah, refused and started a rebellion, and that led to the story of Hanukkah. So, how did you get from Leeds, England to the birthplace of Hanukkah? How did that happen?

Raphael: You saw the film, “Trains, Planes and Automobiles?”

Nehemia: Wow, not really.

Raphael: That’s okay, you didn’t like it.

Nehemia: No, I think I did in the ‘80s, with John Candy. I remember the one line actually in that movie, come to think of it, where they're driving down the highway, on the British side.

Raphael: On the correct side.

Nehemia: And somebody shouts, “You're going the wrong way.” And he turns to his friend, he says, “How do they know where we're going?” Because they were driving the wrong side of the divided highway. Is that how you got here, by trains, planes and automobiles?

Raphael: Yeah, something like that. Growing up in Leeds, in the north of England, a lot of us were involved in a youth group. And in this youth group…

Nehemia: What youth group?

Raphael: It was called Bnei Akiva. It still is called Bnei Akiva.

Nehemia: It’s an Orthodox Jewish Zionistic group.

Raphael: Yes, an orthodox Zionistic youth group. And its mission is basically trying to educate in the Messianic belief of return, of going back to living in Israel.

Nehemia: So, what is the Orthodox Jewish messianic belief? Because a lot of my listeners won't know what that is.

Raphael: Okay, some of us, most of... Well, everyone who fits into my line of thinking feels that...

Nehemia: All the people who think correctly.

Raphael: Everyone that thinks just like me - and I'm correct, as we stated right at the beginning of this podcast - that we believe that by Jewish people going to live in Israel, moving to Israel, we will be bringing back the Messiah. That will cause the Messianic era to start. And by each of us doing that, actually taking that step, getting on the airplane and living here, and living a life according to the Torah, that will cause the Messiah to come. And this is based on the Tanakh, based on what it says in the Tanakh. And so, we believe that this period of time is known as the beginning of the redemption.

Nehemia: Wow.

Raphael: That's what we believe. Those of us who come for these reasons come for very positive reasons. We want to live our life in Israel, and the weather is way better here than it is in Leeds.

Nehemia: You get to see the sun. Did you ever see the sun in Leeds?

Raphael: So, yes. I mean, I always remember that we would sit, being Orthodox Jews, we don't turn the lights on and off on the Sabbath. So, we'd have time switches. I remember very vividly sitting in our dining room. One wall was windows, and the most light could come in, and it would be 12, 1 o'clock in the afternoon, waiting and about to have our Shabbat meal. And we'd be waiting for the lights to come on. Not that you couldn't see your food, it wasn't dark. But in the winter, it was pretty dismal. So, this is not a problem that we have here in Modi'in.

Nehemia: That's a really exciting idea to me. So, you as an Orthodox Jew, basically you're saying, by living in Israel according to the Torah, as you understand it, you're bringing Israel one step closer to the advent of the Messiah.

Raphael: Exactly.

Nehemia: Wow, that's amazing. So, tell me about your work. Koren is famous in Israel as the Tanakh. And I don't know if this is still the case, but I know for many decades, the Bible that they would give soldiers when they would swear... You know, they get their swearing in ceremony for the Israeli army and it would be a Koren Bible.

Raphael: Yes.

Nehemia: And that's not Quran, which is with a Q. This is K-O-R-E-N, which I assume is the family who started the business, or something.

Raphael: So yeah. There was a guy by the name of Eliyahu Korengold, who changed his name. And he escaped Nazi Germany.

Nehemia: Koren was his name in Europe?

Raphael: Korengold. His name was Korengold in Europe, and he escaped Nazi Germany. And he came to Israel and he decided that all the Bibles until that date had been printed by non-Jewish printers. And he decided that he wanted to make a Bible that was created for Jews by Jews. And what was particularly interesting though here, certainly from my perspective, was that he was a graphic designer. And he wanted to create a typeface specially for a Bible, which hadn't been done for a Jewish Bible before. And this was the first completely Jewish Bible.

Nehemia: Can I stop you there? Because that's a major statement that I think will shock a lot of people. What's called the Mikraot Gedolot, which was the Bible used for about 400 years in the Jewish world, was originally printed in... Oh boy, was it Italy? I know it was the Bamberg, which was the name of a Christian printer. I think it was in Italy, or Germany, or someplace like that.

Raphael: They did the Talmud.

Nehemia: They did the Talmud and they did the Bible. And that's actually referred to, I know in scholarly sources, they call it that the “Rabbinic Bible,” ironically. And yes, there were Rabbis involved, but the actual guy in charge, the printer, he was a Christian. And so, you're saying, coming back to Israel, surviving the Holocaust, he said it's time for a Jewish Bible to be printed. Wow, that's cool.

Raphael: So, he went ahead and did that. He created a typeface and a number of other innovations. But the main thing was making a typeface and it took a couple of years.

Nehemia: And typeface, for us mortals, means a font, right?

Raphael: It means a font, but in those days, making a typeface wasn't drawing on a computer. It was actually drawing with this thing called a pencil. I think they used a pen as well, as an ancient way of putting ink onto paper. Remember, in those days printing was done with metals, hot metal typesetting.

Nehemia: What do you mean hot metal? Little squares of metal?

Raphael: Yeah, little squares of metal.

Nehemia: I remember, when I was a kid, we had a typewriter, and you’d press a button. And there was something on the back there, it would touch the ink. So, it was lots of those rectangles?

Raphael: Exactly, lots of little rectangles.

Nehemia: And that's called leading? No, that's called lead.

Raphael: No. Well, it's made out of lead.

Nehemia: Oh, it is made out of lead.

Raphael: The space between the lines is called “leading.” It's made out of lead.

Nehemia: Oh, and the actual rectangles are called lead.

Raphael: I don't remember.

Nehemia: But that is what they call movable type, is that right?

Raphael: Yes.

Nehemia: Which meant you could rearrange them.

Raphael: Right. But of course, he had someone to make those little blocks, those little letters.

Nehemia: The blocks, yeah.

Raphael: So, that was sent off to a company, I believe, in France. It came back months later, and it wasn't perfect, and they to do it all over again, at their expense. So, that process took a few years. So, he created that font. In about 1960-something, it’s not clear exactly when, they printed the first Koren Tanakh. And the whole process they did, actually, there was another interesting part to that process, because the Hebrew accent marks you mentioned earlier, what we call the ta'amey mikra, well, they didn't have that in the lead. So, they had to have a way of actually adding that to the text. And the way that they did that was, they actually printed the Bible at twice the size it was going to be.

Nehemia: What?

Raphael: And then they placed the te'amim on the page now.

Nehemia: The accent marks.

Raphael: What they wanted to do, they wanted to use Letraset.

Nehemia: What's that?

Raphael: Letraset, it was very popular until the computers came along.

Nehemia: Some technology before computers.

Raphael: No, it was rubdown letters, these letters you rub down? Do you remember, when you were a kid, you got a page and you had lots of As and lots of Bs?

Nehemia: Oh, yeah.

Raphael: That was called Letraset. But they hadn't actually invented Letraset, so they couldn't use it. They created their own Letraset.

Nehemia: Wow, and that's how they put in the accent marks.

Raphael: It was little like that. And actually, I met one of the ladies who worked on it. There were three people who worked on it, and one of them is a lady who's now a very well-known professor, Professor Ada Yardeni, whose name you probably have heard.

Nehemia: I’ve definitely heard of her. She's an expert on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and particularly the writing of the Dead Sea Scrolls. She's done all this work about how the Scrolls were actually written. That's her expertise.

Raphael: So, she was one of the three people that actually put these accent marks on the page. I met her, and she told me the first page took her a full day to do. She got faster after that.

Nehemia: Of like 1,000 pages of the Bible, or something like that.

Raphael: Yeah, more. 1300 pages, right? She did get faster after that. So, that's how they did it, and then they shrunk it down. And you should know that the large edition...

Nehemia: ...is the real size.

Raphael: No, it was half the size.

Nehemia: It's half the size?

Raphael: Yes. And if you get the large edition, that's big.

Nehemia: And I gotta say, this to me, is really fascinating. Because, you know, growing up, the Bible that I read in Hebrew was the Koren Bible. That was the Bible that we had. And it was actually the Jerusalem Bible, which had the Hebrew on one side and the English on the other side. And it's funny, because looking back... Pull that down, I don't even know if I could read that today. Once you hit 40, things get different. But back when I was a young man, I could read this. Oh, yeah, we're gonna have to talk to my other sister who's an optometrist. I could just barely make out the letters now. Wow, so you're saying they did this all by hand.

Raphael: It's all done by hand.

Nehemia: That’s amazing.

Raphael: So, it took a while.

Nehemia: Back in the ‘60s… So, how did you get involved and what was your role 40 or 50 years later?

Raphael: When I came, when Koren, the company…

Nehemia: I gotta stop you. Now it makes sense why for 400 years they used the Christian printing of the Bible. This is what's involved. No wonder. So now, 40 or 50 years…

Raphael: As you mentioned before, I had my company Jerusalem Typesetting. And someone...

Nehemia: Can I share a story?

Raphael: Of course, you can.

Nehemia: I know I keep interrupting you, but I remember when you were maybe first married to my sister, or maybe dating her, I remember you sharing about how you had a...

Raphael: We didn't date for very long.

Nehemia: There was some form you had from like a Saudi oil company, like you had to typeset a document. Tell us about that. It was in Arabic, right?

Raphael: Yeah, we did a little bit of work in Arabic. When I was running Jerusalem Typesetting, I actually have two funny stories about that. I had worked for a number of translation companies, and what they would do is that they would get, obviously, whatever it happened to be. One was a shoe thing for Scholl. I don’t know if they pronounce it “Scholl” or “Skoll.”

Nehemia: It's a shoe company.

Raphael: It’s a shoe company.

Nehemia: And they translated it…

Raphael: And they translated into various language. But when it came to dealing with right to left, it required a special version of the typesetting software. Now it's not an issue. So, they gave me any Arabic or Hebrew work. So obviously, there was not an insignificant amount of Arabic work. Anyway, there were two stories that I had where they really didn't want to tell the client that I did it, but that they did it. So, one was actually… yes, this was a Saudi company doing their barrels of oil. And I'm not exactly sure what we were doing, because obviously, it was all in Arabic.

Nehemia: But you typeset it.

Raphael: But we typeset it. And the other story is actually even funnier. It was Microsoft, and Microsoft Israel needed to have some stuff prepared for Windows Vista. It was a whole bunch of things, including a large poster, etc. But they knew that in Israel, the level of typesetting wasn't that great, which is absolutely true, on the whole. So, they went to this company in England, who then subcontracted it back to us in Israel. Now, it became rather amusing at one point. I was doing this enormous poster, and it was a very large file. And in those days, the Internet was a lot slower than it was today. So, I would work on the file, and then I would send it and they'd get it the next day overnight on the Internet.

The problem was that the client was coming into the office. Someone had flown from Israel all the way to England, in order to see it. And the last time, they’d used the excuse that I was sick, that's why I wasn't there, and I wasn't actually in the country. This time I had a problem, I needed to get it done within the hour. And I said, “I don't know if that's going to be possible, because the speed of the internet.” We did pull it off in time and all of Windows Vista stuff, Microsoft Israel subcontracts to the company in England who subcontracted it back into Israel, and it cost them twice the price.

Nehemia: That's funny. All right, so back to the Koren Tanakh.

Raphael: Yes.

Nehemia: That you were involved with.

Raphael: I was involved with it. So, I had a lot of involvement in Koren. Originally, when I was running Jerusalem Typesetting, a gentleman by the name of Matthew Miller bought Koren. I had actually known Matthew from England, even though he's American, but that's a whole other story. And he actually asked me if I would be interested in being involved with re-typesetting the Koren Tanakh, because obviously, it was in print format.

Nehemia: Just to remind people, Tanakh is the Hebrew Bible, what Christians call the “Old Testament.”

Raphael: Correct.

Nehemia: And it's in Hebrew, this isn't a translation. This is the Hebrew text.

Raphael: Exactly, 100% in Hebrew. So, I went on to actually work full time for Koren for a period of six or seven years… No, six years, sorry. And the one project that I originally had to do hasn't actually been completed yet, which is kind of ironic. Because of course, the first job that we had to do, which was the obvious job, is that we needed to actually have the text of the Bible. And you’d think, “Well, what's the big deal?” Well, it was actually quite a big deal, because the Koren version of the Bible is a very accurate version, of which there are a number of different accurate versions, but this is the Koren version…

Nehemia: In the Hebrew.

Raphael: …of the Hebrew. So, what we had to then do was, we had to take a text, which we just downloaded off the Internet. And we had a team of a number of people who went ahead and changed the text to be accurate, according to the Koren text. Great, now we have all the texts to be exactly the same. You're probably thinking, “How does the text change?” Some versions are… God didn't create the world in the beginning, he did it in the middle.

Nehemia: Is that what happened?

Raphael: So, it was the nuances are really in the accent marks. There’ll be more differences. For example, if you take the first paragraph of Psalms, take three Bibles, you'll see there'll be differences in the accent marks of those three things. The actual text tends to be the same.

Nehemia: Now, would somebody find a difference in the translation of those three texts? Or are those nuances really in the tradition of how it's sung, or cantillated in tradition?

Raphael: When we're dealing with Psalms, we do not know the meaning of those accent marks in what you called before, the three, Job, Proverbs and Psalms.

Nehemia: Which we call in Hebrew "emet,” the “truth books.”

Raphael: That's right, “sifrey emet,” because those are the...

Nehemia: The acronym of Iyov, Mishley, Tehillim.

Raphael: That's right. But it's important to have everything correct because Koren is very accurate.

Nehemia: And would you say it has to be correct because it's a sacred text, right? And if you were gonna reproduce it, it has to be reproduced exactly.

Raphael: Oh, absolutely. Yeah.

Nehemia: So, in other words, something that even the average, probably, scholar at Hebrew University, or the average Rabbi coming to that would look at the three, see the difference, but wouldn't be able to say there's a difference of meaning or translation there.

Raphael: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely.

Nehemia: Okay, but it's still important because it's a sacred text.

Raphael: Exactly. So, that was the first task, and we estimated it would take about five years to do that.

Nehemia: How long did it take?

Raphael: It took a little bit longer because other projects came in. I think it was about six or seven years, but it was according to our original estimation. But the bigger challenge - and this is from my point of view, from a typesetting point of view - was actually a much more technologically interesting challenge that, of course, we don't have the typeface. What does that mean? Originally, this was done with metal characters. We need it on the computer.

Nehemia: And the kind of scratch thing.

Raphael: Yeah, the scratch thing, the Letraset.

Nehemia: The Letraset, right.

Raphael: So, we had to digitize this. And this process of digitization was a very interesting process.

Nehemia: So, you can't go to fonts.com and download the font that you needed?

Raphael: Correct. There were other versions of the Koren fonts that other people had made.

Nehemia: Let's talk about that. So, I open up my Microsoft Word in Hebrew, and I have a font called “Koren.” And you were mentioning before the program that there's some kind of issue with that.

Raphael: So yeah, that's an interesting story. Basically, there was a font designer called Shmuel Guttman who I had the privilege of meeting, and he created a version of Koren called Keren, which he thought was a new and improved version, not realizing there was a slight legal problem, certainly in Israel, with doing this. And he sold these fonts to Microsoft.

Nehemia: Mm, that’s why I have it…

Raphael: So, Microsoft bundled it with all their software. Now, there was a court case a few years ago, where it was a very interesting setup. But basically, Microsoft were being sued for providing this typeface for free. Now, in America there would be no problem with this. And in Israel, technically speaking, there was no…

Nehemia: Who was suing him, Koren?

Raphael: Well, it wasn't Koren suing him. It was a bit weird. It was the font foundry who was suing Microsoft.

Nehemia: What's the font foundry?

Raphael: The font foundry is a company that own the right to the font. And what we did at Koren, we didn't have the expertise to draw the fonts and also sell the fonts, so we went to font foundry. You might have heard of Linotype, and Monotype, and Anchor, and Adobe.

Nehemia: So, one of those companies was suing…

Raphael: In Israel there was a company called “Master fonts,” and they were suing Microsoft.

Nehemia: They were suing Microsoft?

Raphael: Yes. So obviously, Microsoft have a bigger budget, in terms of defending. But the short version is that Microsoft actually lost.

Nehemia: Really?

Raphael: And as a result, Microsoft from the year 2,000 and whatever it was, I guess, ‘14, no longer are allowed to bundle the Keren typeface. And the law in Israel was actually changed on account of this…

Nehemia: You're kidding me.

Raphael: And actually, that was the reason why the law firm didn't actually charge the font foundry to sue Microsoft. They did it for free, because they wanted their names to be in the Israel law books. Crazy, crazy.

Nehemia: This is adventures in Hebrew typesetting. It really is. Wow. Now, you said in America that wouldn't be an issue. What is the law here?

Raphael: In America, if you see a typeface that you like...

Nehemia: A font.

Raphael: Times New Roman, a font, a typeface, the same word. You like Times New Roman, you want to make a new version of Times New Roman, you're allowed to do that. You can't copy the font. You’re not allowed to take Times New Roman and sell it. You're not allowed to do that. But if you want to now draw a new version of Times New Roman...

Nehemia: From scratch.

Raphael: Yeah, then you can do that. There's no copyright on the art.

Nehemia: Oh, interesting.

Raphael: Whereas, now in Israel there's a copyright on the art. You've now created art.

Nehemia: That blows my mind.

Raphael: Bearing in mind, it takes a font designer two years to create that art. He has created a typeface. He spends two years of his life doing that. It is only reasonable that someone else can't just copy it and make a slightly different version of it. You know, “Let's make the E with the crossbar being a slight angle. Oh, now I've got a new font.”

Nehemia: And really, you're talking about the Hebrew fonts, but also the English fonts.

Raphael: In Israel you can't copy artwork.

Nehemia: Artwork in general is copyrighted.

Raphael: It’s copyrighted.

Nehemia: That's interesting. All right, let's talk about Koren and the font.

Raphael: So yes, we had to redraw the font. So, I went to the font foundry and said, “Well, here you are. Here's the Bible, scan this…”

Nehemia: Make a font like this.

Raphael: Yeah, exactly, “Make this font.” I mean, obviously, he knew what the font was, everyone in the country does. So, we said, “Look, here are the films that we use today to reprint the Bible.”

Nehemia: Back up, films.

Raphael: Right. So, when you print a book - things have changed recently, in the past 10 to 15 years - but when you print a book, the very first stage that you'd have to do is, you'd have to photograph the page. Now, before the Apple Mac came along and changed desktop publishing as we know it today, the way things would be done the stage before, of course many stages before that, was that we would output the text on something called bromide. It was a very expensive process.

Nehemia: That was a material, bromide.

Raphael: It was a material. It was black on white, and then we’d put on the light table. And it would be stuck and then the pictures would be stuck on the page. And pagination would be taking galleys, taking strips of text and literally sticking it on a piece of paper. And you were supposed to use this thing called guar gum, but everyone just used Pritt Stick.

Nehemia: What's a Pritt Stick, a glue stick?

Raphael: Yeah, a glue stick.

Nehemia: So, that's how professionals made books. They’d stamp it with a glue stick.

Raphael: Absolutely. When I came to Israel and I started working in the printing company I worked at, they were still doing a job like that. They were using Pritt Sticks, and they would then photograph it on giant cameras.

Nehemia: And that was what was called “Photo-ready...”

Raphael: It had to be camera-ready.

Nehemia: Camera-ready, right.

Raphael: That’s what “camera-ready” meant. That means I can now put it onto the camera and make film. And then from the film, they would arrange it. This is still done, of course electronically today. It would be arranged digitally on 16 pages on a very large sheet of film. And of course, page 1 had to go opposite page 16, so that when it folded, it would create the book. At any rate, then from that point, those films would be made into plates. So, when I started in my career, we were at the end of camera-ready, taking a picture, making film, and making plates.

Nehemia: Now are the plates made directly from PDFs?

Raphael: Yeah, plates are now made directly from the computer. It's direct to plate. It used to be, during my career it went from direct to film and then film to plate. And then, we're now direct to plate, there is no...

Nehemia: So, when you got involved in Koren, what they'd been doing since the ‘60s is using the same films to produce plates.

Raphael: That’s right. Now, that's where it becomes very interesting. What happened was, we said, “Listen, here’s the best thing.” Film is the equivalent of around 3000 dpi. It's very high resolution, very high quality. To give you an idea of what that means is, an average laser printer would be 600 dpi, so this is like five times better. It can't be better than that.

Nehemia: You can’t beat that.

Raphael: So, we go to the font foundry and they scan in these films, a very high resolution, and they draw three letters for us. And the letters were a bet, a shin and if I'm not mistaken, a tav. And why those three letters, I have no idea, but those were the three letters. And he drew them, and he made it, and he sent it to us. And we printed it out on the laser printer. And I put it onto my desk, and there was a lady that still works at Koren, and when I was there, she'd been there for 30 years. And she had typeset under Mr. Koren. Mr. Koren passed away about 12,13 years ago, so she was our closest thing to Koren. And she comes in, her name is Esther. I said, “Esther, look.” She looked at the letters, and she goes, “They're very nice, but they're not Koren.” These were like huge letters. To me, they were perfect, it's just they're not Koren. Anyway, what had happened, we had a problem, and he went and did an aleph. What we discovered was that the films over the years had warped…

Nehemia: Wow.

Raphael: …only a slight amount. But if you took three alephs on one page and superimposed them…

Nehemia: They’d be different.

Raphael: …one on top of each other, they were completely different. Now, the significance of that is that if one letter is now slightly narrower or slightly warped than another letter, then the whole rhythm of the font is lost. And that's why when she saw those three letters she said, “It's not Koren,” not because she could discern that it was a fraction of a millimeter narrower, but because the rhythm was off, something was off.

So, we were stuck. And I'm sitting there in my office, and I'm staring at the wall. And then I realized, “I'm an idiot.” What had happened was that many years ago, Koren had drawn his letters in ink, the actual letters that he'd sent to the font foundry, and he’d framed it. And he’d put it as a picture on the wall. And these were very high-quality letters. So, we took down that picture...

Nehemia: You had the framed picture…

Raphael: Yeah.

Nehemia: …with original masters that he kept as a souvenir.

Raphael: Well, we don't know if it was the master, we believe it was as close as he did it. It was like staring at me.

Nehemia: That's amazing.

Raphael: So, we took this to Tel Aviv, and he goes, “Ah,” and he starts ripping the whole thing to pieces. “Oh, careful.” No, he didn't care, and he created the letters and they were perfect. It was absolutely fantastic. Then the fun began, because we had to do...

Nehemia: So, you're not done, and now you’ve got to…

Raphael: We're right at the beginning. This took months. The whole process took a year. And the next thing we had to do was something called “kerning.” Kerning is making sure that two letters sit nicely. The classic example that's always given when teaching kerning is the book, “War and Peace.” Why? Because the first word, WAR, in full caps. I'm showing Nehemia something, of course you can't see. But if that's a W, and that's an A...

Nehemia: The A fits in underneath the W…

Raphael: That’s right.

Nehemia: And that's proper typesetting.

Raphael: That's called kerning, and that's built into the font. Most Hebrew fonts don't bother with that, it takes way too much time for them to do. It's many hours of work to kern a font, and there aren't enough people buying fonts in Israel. The market is very small to justify the work. But this was Koren, so I spent the next couple of months kerning the font.

Nehemia: Wow, how do you do that?

Raphael: You sit down, you take the first letter, the aleph and an aleph, an aleph and a bet, an aleph and a gimmel.

Nehemia: Every combination has to be custom...

Raphael: Every combination.

Nehemia: And then, that will be programmed in for that combination.

Raphael: And that was programmed into the font. So, we used somebody, a programmer that I’d done a lot of work with, to program the font. And he used this program called VOLT, which is a Microsoft program that's completely free, although you get no instructions with it, and it's a DOS-based program.

Nehemia: You don’t have to pay for it.

Raphael: You get what you pay for. But this is the definitive program that everyone uses to make fonts. Sometimes, more expensive programs are used, but the VOLT is the core of making that typeface.

Nehemia: So, this will be a program that sits on top as an interface, but VOLT is the core.

Raphael: Exactly. Exactly. So, he did it directly into VOLT. And then, the next day just to put the vowels, the nikud in, because we didn't want to have a khirik, a dot be sitting under the resh, in the middle of the letter. It had to sit under the stem of the letter. So, that was more work for me to do.

Nehemia: Meaning, the way it shows up in Word or on many websites isn't proper Hebrew typesetting. It's somebody who didn't have the resources and time, or maybe the knowledge, and they just typed it in and it shows up where the dot underneath the letter is in the middle of letter instead of under the stem of the letter.

Raphael: Right. To all intents and purposes, that’s correct. In order for the dot to sit correctly, two things have to happen. One, someone has to have taken the trouble to place each vowel in the exact correct place for each letter. And secondly, the software that you're using has to support it. The latest version of Word, for example, does support it.

Nehemia: Oh, it does, if it's in the font?

Raphael: Absolutely, but the person has to put it in the font. Windows and OS 10 support this natively. The latest version of iOS 8 also supports this extremely well, so that solved that problem. So, we had to actually do that.

Nehemia: So, you're programming into VOLT.

Raphael: And I, personally, was just giving the value. I was saying, “I want the nikud to be moved to the right, 50.”

Nehemia: And then somebody would punch that into VOLT.

Raphael: Yes, somebody would punch it into VOLT. Then we had a problem of combinations. What do I do if I have a word like... I have to think of a good word, “vered.” Vered means “rose, pink,” whatever. Vered is a vav, which is a very narrow letter, and it's particularly narrow in Koren, and it has a segol, three dots which are wide…

Nehemia: Underneath it.

Raphael: And then there's a resh, and the stem of the resh is next to the vav. So, those two segols, are going to touch each other, they're gonna overlap.

Nehemia: So, you have two vowels that are very close to each other, and that's a challenge.

Raphael: Well, they're going to overlap.

Nehemia: Oh, overlap. So, what do you do?

Raphael: So, we had to program VOLT that if you had a resh with a segol following a vav with a segol, to move the first segol a little bit to the right, and the second segol a little to the left. So, when you’d type it on the computer, it was great.

Nehemia: Wow. What's amazing to me is like the ancient scribes who would sit there by candlelight, by lamplight, they would do this by hand. The difference is, once you get this done once then you can print like a million Bibles.

Raphael: Exactly.

Nehemia: They would do it by hand, painstakingly, and spend like a year writing the Torah or something, with the vowels.

Raphael: If you buy the Koren font from Master Font and you type the word “vered”...

Nehemia: It will come out properly.

Raphael: It will come out properly in Microsoft Word. On your PC in China, you don't even have to...

Nehemia: So, out of curiosity, by Israeli law, if I buy a master font and I've got a legal copy of Word, can I then publish that, create a PDF publishing with those fonts?

Raphael: You can. There is one limitation in the Koren font, that you can't make a Bible with a Koren Bible font.

Nehemia: Oh, interesting. That's awesome. But if I'm quoting the Bible, I'm allowed to do that.

Raphael: Yeah, no problem. Or you’re doing another text, whatever it is.

Nehemia: Or a prayer book that quotes the Bible.

Raphael: Yeah, someone did a dedication in a book that we're doing, and I used the Koren font. It's a beautiful font.

Nehemia: So, you're making this in VOLT, and you're doing these specific combinations.

Raphael: And then, of course, we add the accent marks in the combinations.

Nehemia: So, we've got consonants, vowels, accent marks.

Raphael: Right. Now, I'm not going to confuse our listeners here with all the various... Obviously, each accent mark has its own name. But let's just say it gets very complicated, and we have a very long list of accent marks.

Nehemia: Because sometimes, the accent mark will sit where the vowel should sit, and it's got to both make room for each other.

Raphael: Exactly.

Nehemia: And this has to be programmed beforehand.

Raphael: Yes, it has to be perfect. And so, I sent to the programmer the next set of corrections, the next set of collisions.

Nehemia: This is the kerning.

Raphael: No, the kerning we did.

Nehemia: Oh, you’re past the kerning, okay.

Raphael: And we did the positioning of the nikud, of the vowels, and we did the collisions of the vowels, and all this is great. And now we've got the accents, and we're doing really well. And then I get a phone call, and he goes, “We've got a problem.” I said, “Okay, what's the problem?” He said, “I can't compile the font, I can't make the font with your latest set of corrections, or collisions.” I said, “Why?” He goes, “I don't know.” So, he decides to write to Microsoft and said, “Listen, we've got a problem. We're trying to compile this font…” That's a computer geeky term of, “I'm trying to turn my code into a piece of software,” and a font is a piece of software.

Nehemia: Like an app.

Raphael: It’s like an app, it is an app. And Microsoft wrote back and said, “Well, that's interesting. Send us the font.” So, we sent this font, and Microsoft goes, “Oh, we see the problem. It's too big. You have too many lines of code.” So, the programmer, his name is Aryeh, said, “What do you mean?” They said, “When we created VOLT, we made an arbitrary limit to how many lines of code or how much program was in it. It was enormous, and yours is too big.” So, we said, “Well, what do we do?” They said, “There’s nothing you could do about it. We're not coming out with a new version of VOLT, so basically, you're on your own.”

Nehemia: And didn't they say this was the most complex font they'd ever seen at Microsoft?

Raphael: Yes, yeah, the most complex font ever. So, a Hebrew font for a Hebrew Bible, for a Jewish Bible, is now the most complicated…

Nehemia: You know why that's so amazing to me? Again, we've got vowels, consonants, accents. And there are actually two types of accents. So, we've got four sets of symbols, but this is the most complicated. I spent a year in China, a language with 20,000 characters, and this ancient Hebrew writing system, used by Jewish scribes to preserve the oracles of God, the Hebrew text of Scripture, is more complicated than Chinese.

Raphael: That's right.

Nehemia: That's amazing to me.

Raphael: But it's more complicated.

Nehemia: As far as Microsoft is concerned, anyway.

Raphael: Yes, it's more complicated, simply because we want to take into account all the collisions.

Nehemia: And you want to do it right.

Raphael: We want to do it right.

Nehemia: Meaning, if I was going to do a half-baked Bible, I could take the David font or something…

Raphael: Yes.

Nehemia: And there'll be things that look awkward, and probably the average reader won't know it. But somebody who is fluent in reading the Hebrew will come and look at that and say, “Wait, what's going on here? I'm reading the 10 commandments with the dual set of accents, and this is completely messed up, right?”

Raphael: Yeah. I think if you're reading an English book and you see a word, any word, just a random word on my screen, “creation,” and I have the E half on the R, then you're gonna think, “That's not right.”

Nehemia: It’s overlapping, I see.

Raphael: We don't want an overlap.

Nehemia: Wow, that's an amazing story. And so, what did you have to do in the end?

Raphael: So, in the end, the current font is 99.99 percent accurate. And then, the places where there are the collisions, that has to be moved manually.

Nehemia: Manually in the typesetting software.

Raphael: In the typesetting software, yeah.

Nehemia: Okay. So, let's talk about typesetting. You've got a company, Renana Typesetting, named after my niece. And let me ask this question. Let's say I'm an author and I've written this book, and this is the greatest book that the world has ever seen. Why can't I just type it up in Word and push it out and publish it? What's wrong with that? As a typesetter, what's the issue with that?

Raphael: Well, as a typesetter there's no issue. As a reader, there's a big issue. As a typesetter I don't make any money from you. What's wrong with doing it in Microsoft Word? And so, the answer is, it's a little bit subtle. It's about what the result is going to be.

Word is an excellent word processor, and I use it every single day as a part of my process. But Word is a word processor, and the job of Word is to do many things. An author is going to be using it to make corrections and checking grammar, etc. But Word isn't very good at displaying that text in the absolute optimum way.

There are ways of doing some of the things that we do automatically in typesetting in Word, but generally, if you take Word and you choose a built-in font and you print it out on your laser printer, and then you take that same page and you typeset it in typesetting software - I use Adobe InDesign, it’s off the shelf software - and I print that out with a professional font. My software knows how to massage that text on the fly. The experience for the reader is going to be a much smoother experience. It's a little bit like driving on a road. Every road will take you from A to B. If you have spent any time in Israel, you will know that some roads are better than others. Most of them are appalling…

Nehemia: And some drivers are better than others.

Raphael: And some drivers. I often use a road as a way of describing typesetting. The roads can be full of potholes, you'll still get from A to B. There could be good signage, there could be poor signage. If the signage is like in Australia, which is superb signage, it'll be a less confusing journey. In Israel, unfortunately, the signage is not so great, so it's the same as typesetting. If you’re doing it in Microsoft Word, it's a little bit like having a road with potholes. You'll get to the end of the story, but it won't be as pleasurable.

Nehemia: For the reader, and I could speak from my experience, I've come across books that were done in Word, and there's just something about it where it doesn't have a professional feel to it. It looks like somebody was sitting on their laptop and created a PDF and sent it to the printer, as opposed to a book that's typeset that really has that professional look and feel.

Raphael: Absolutely.

Nehemia: That's really the value that you add to people's books. So, if there's someone out there who does have the masterpiece on the spacecraft that crashed into Roswell, New Mexico, and they discovered that they’ve figured it out, would they be able to come to Renana Typesetting? Even though it's not… You know, you're an Orthodox Jew, that has nothing to do with it. It's a book about alien spacecraft, or whatever the book is about. Is that something that you would typeset?

Raphael: Absolutely.

Nehemia: Okay, and how can people contact Renana Typesetting?

Raphael: We have our website, which is renanatype.com. Of course, spelling Renana is not so easy. It's not the way you might think. It's R-E-N-A-N-A. Did I say that correctly?

Nehemia: It's like banana, but with a R-E instead of a B-A.

Raphael: That's right. Very good, banana. And it's type, T-Y-P-E, one word. But if you just Google “Renana Typesetting” or Raphael Freeman, you will find me. And our clients range from individual authors to publishing houses. Other publishing houses use our services quite extensively, because typically, a publishing house will not have in-house typesetting unless they're doing hundreds of books a year.

Nehemia: So, people could go into in America, Barnes and Noble and pull a book off the shelf, and maybe you did that book.

Raphael: Absolutely.

Nehemia: Wow, that's amazing. And even Saudi oil companies.

Raphael: If you're dealing with barrels of oil, although you won't see my name in it, there's a chance that I typeset that, yes, yes.

Nehemia: That's awesome. Wow, this has been a fascinating discussion, Raphael, and I have no doubt that we could continue to speak for many hours about this. But I think we've got to bring it to a close. Is there any last thing you want to share with people?

Raphael: Um, no.

Nehemia: Well, the last thing is, if you've got the masterpiece that you poured your heart and soul into, I think you owe it to yourself. Spend the extra money to make it look professional. Go to renanatype.com and get your book typeset. Oh, we've got to talk about this. One more thing, Raphael, would you please give me a few more minutes? You were showing me how you do these iBooks, is it?

Raphael: Well, we've got a problem. Apple will not allow us to call them “iBooks.”

Nehemia: Oh, what are they called?

Raphael: Because if it was called an iBook we'd know what we were talking about. So, we have to call it a “digital book for the iPad,” because saying “iBooks” is too easy.

Nehemia: So, if I have an iPad I can buy books that you’ve created?

Raphael: If you have an iPad or a Mac, Apple actually came up with a very interesting technology for people who want to read books on the iPad. Not just read books like a Kindle book, but actually have an experience that you can't do in a physical book, pictures, music, and all sorts of cool stuff like that.

Nehemia: So, is this “books plus?”

Raphael: Yes, we can call it “books plus.” So basically, the books have to be redone from scratch, unfortunately, more or less, in a piece of software which Apple provides for free, called “iBooks Author,” which is kind of a big deal because InDesign costs like thousands of dollars and this is similar software. Of course, you have to buy a Mac, that was quite expensive, but I did. I went out and bought a Mac specially. And obviously, your listeners aren't able to see this, but I have a random book here where we've got a number of pictures which pertain to one page. So, we're able to do that as a very slick gallery.

Nehemia: I'm looking at this book here, and it's describing in words a certain thing. This is kind of a Rabbinical text, if I'm not mistaken. He's describing something, and then now you're able to put in not only a picture, but a gallery with a number of pictures that people can slide through, and understand not only in words what he's doing, but actually visually see it. That's pretty cool.

Raphael: And all those pictures are, of course, all on that one page. And I did another book where we did footnotes. Footnotes we're all familiar with.

Nehemia: I love footnotes.

Raphael: iBooks Author doesn't actually support footnotes natively, they let us work very hard. What I did was, I made a little clouds bubble. So, first, you don't have lots of footnotes on the page. But next to the text, you can click on this little cloud, and you see the footnote. Now, what you can see in this particular footnote here is that this footnote is quoting Genesis 2:18. So, we've got here in Genesis chapter 1, etc. and then it says, “And God said.” And once more in Genesis 2:18.

Nehemia: I absolutely love this example. I'm not going to read this whole text here, but he's quoting Genesis 2:18. And in a regular book, it'll say maybe a little footnote on the bottom that gives the verse number, maybe it will be in parentheses in the running of the text. Here, I'm reading the text, it quotes the verse. And then I click the little symbol here, and I click it again…

Raphael: There’s a pop-up.

Nehemia: And it pops up and it brings up for me in both Hebrew and English, the actual running passage with Genesis 2:18.

Raphael: In context.

Nehemia: In context. So now, I clicked on the button and it brought me to chabad.org which has what they call the “complete Jewish Bible.” And I'm looking here in the Hebrew and the English, and I can check what the guy says. The guy is writing about something in his book, and I can pull up the verse and look at it in Hebrew and English. That's really cool. And you can't do that in a print book.

Raphael: Right, exactly. And I did another book which I actually encourage our readers to listen to, because I think it's a... If you have an iPad or a Mac, if you do a search in iTunes for Twelve Musical Masters...

Nehemia: And you did this book.

Raphael: Yeah, I did this book in three languages, actually. We did it in English, German, and Russian. I'm going to open it up in English, because I speak English better.

Nehemia: Allegedly.

Raphael: Allegedly, but not much better. All these years in Israel. And when you open it up, you get a table of contents. And it's got 12 musical masters. The first one is Antonio Vivaldi. Now, you can tap on Antonio Vivaldi, and it will go to his page. But you could also tap on the little button here, a little sound button…

[music]

Nehemia: Wow, so you could never do that in a print book, that's impossible.

Raphael: No, that's very difficult for a print book to do. And then, if I click on Antonio Vivaldi, there's a beautiful painting which was drawn by a graphic designer. We've got the button there, so we continue to listen. And then we've got text on the side that's scrolling and it's all on one page. So, the person’s getting an experience which they're not going to otherwise get. And it's a beautiful book, and if you happen to enjoy music, if you want to... I showed this book to my eight-year-old son, and he just loved it. Him and his friend was here, and they spent a good 10 minutes, 15 minutes playing with a book, listening to the different music. And it's a wonderful introduction.

Nehemia: And how old is your son, for the audience?

Raphael: My eight-year-old son is eight.

Nehemia: Okay, I missed that part. I'm so fascinated by the book, I didn't hear that. So, my eight-year-old nephew spent 10 minutes listening to classical music…

Raphael: 10, 15 minutes, that’s right.

Nehemia: …because the interface is just so engaging.

Raphael: That's right.

Nehemia: Wow. And this is the type of thing that you can help people create.

Raphael: Absolutely.

Nehemia: If they've got the content, you can create it in a format that's just so engaging even an eight-year-old could sit there, engaged by it.

Raphael: Absolutely, and there's lots of cool stuff you can do with people who are familiar with iBooks. You could do video, and you can do texts. You can do all sorts of dynamic things, but not dynamic for the sake of being dynamic. This is a better way and you still have the footnotes. Rather than having a page where literally half that page would have been footnotes at the bottom of the page, you now see a full page of text. And then each footnote you tap and it pops up, and if it's a footnote that's three lines, it's a small pop-up. And if it's large, it's either the whole page or it scrolls, whatever you want.

Nehemia: Well, I'll tell you how people read some of my books, and I know this because they've written to me. They'll have the print book, and then they'll have their computer to pull up certain translations, and then they'll have a Hebrew Bible next to it where they'll be looking. And then, a lot of people who can't read Hebrew very well, they'll have a concordance, and they'll have all these books. And they'll be using that to say, “Okay, Nehemia wrote something here, let's go check it out.” And then, with your interface, you just click a button and you're there. That's pretty cool.

Raphael: That's right. And another cool thing, because it is an iPad, and because this is built-in, let's say you don't know what the meaning of a word is...

Nehemia: I love that.

Raphael: There are no words on this particular page which are difficult. But the same way, you'll have this on your Kindle, obviously on the iPad as well, you simply tap on a word. And as you can see, you can see, we chose the word “proportionate,” and it tells you what proportionate means. But what you can also do, which is very useful for people who are writing notes, you can take some text and you can share that text to Facebook. But what's more interesting and more useful is, we can actually attach a note to that text.

Nehemia: Oh, wow, so you've got your running commentary on the book you're reading.

Raphael: One of the very cool things, actually, and this is something that mustn't be underappreciated, the beauty of publishing to a digital format with Apple's system who, by the way, are the only... No one else has provided this. I can't use this for Android at all, because Google hasn't provided a platform to do this. If you find a mistake in your book, and this is very cool, and I'm sure you'll appreciate this as an author…

Nehemia: Oh, I've actually done this.

Raphael: …You can update that book. And if this person has got notes on that text, don't worry, the notes will stay in place.

Nehemia: And I've actually had people ask me, they say, “I want an eBook. Should I buy the Kindle book or the iBooks format from iTunes?” And I tell them that there's no question that as an author, and you as a reader, the iBooks is superior. I sell a lot more on Kindle, because it's cross platform. But, for example, one of the things I had to do in Kindle was remove the Hebrew, because Kindle doesn't support Hebrew. So, I'll be quoting something and I'll say, “Here's the Hebrew word.” And I gotta kick that out of the Kindle, and in the iBooks it's there.

Raphael: Right, exactly. You know, you can very easily find all your notes that you've written. And with one, literally - I'm not even exaggerating here - with one tap of a button, you can turn it into study cards. And this is all built into the platform, it's not something that I have done. I can't take any credit for this technology. It's not obvious, but you can see which pages you've been on, you can go backwards and forwards and add bookmarks. This is all part of it.

Nehemia: Is pagination a native feature of this? Because you know, the Kindle, when you create a Kindle book, when I've created my Kindle books, they don't allow you to have pages. They allow certain people to have pages. But me, as a small publisher, a small author, they'll say like, you know, “Location 324,221,” and the actual pages in the book I don't have.

Raphael: Right, so on iBooks you have two modes. And you can decide what mode you want to have. In this particular book, this is a very interesting book. It’s a book in English. It's a religious book, and the author wanted all the quotes, in full, to be in the margin. So, if the quote’s very long, we can simply scroll down, and they're in Hebrew, a minor detail. Now, what's interesting, it goes as follows. When you put in horizontal layout, it's fixed. That means, if I'm zooming in, it zooms back again. It’s fixed.

Nehemia: Okay, it doesn't re-layout the page like the Kindle does.

Raphael: It doesn’t re-layout the page, exactly, which allows you to have a very graphically rich page if that's what you want. However, in this particular book, we've chosen that when you go into in portrait mode, in portrait mode it does re-lay it out like Kindle. And in portrait modes I'm able to change the size of the fonts if I want it to be larger. And then the way the quotes are handled in this situation is that there’s this little pop-up on the side, and then they can pop-up like that.

Nehemia: That's very cool.

Raphael: Okay, so any pictures you'll have will be attached to the text in the right place. It’s a very different experience from the Kindle. The other advantage here, and this is something that we thought about in Encyclopedia Judaica we mentioned in the past when you and I were chatting, but we can put our own fonts in here. So, this particular author likes to have H dot, so I made a font with an H dot in it, and it appears here. And it's actually quite amusing if you share a sentence with the H dot and we can do that now. Now I'm sharing it to Facebook, it actually shares to Facebook if I look at my PC now, with an H dot in the font for Facebook.

Nehemia: How does it do that? The font is embedded?

Raphael: No, it's not embedded. The H dot is a Unicode character. It's magic. It's magical. There's a lot of Tim Cooks and Steve Jobs who say it's magical, right? So, there is actually some science behind it, but we'll ignore the science. So yeah, so it allows us to do certain things which for many people is very useful, and that's something that we do. Most of our work is for print, but we do have this expertise and I've had a number of different companies come to me and consult with me on doing this, because in Israel, very few people have the know how to do this.

Nehemia: And people outside of Israel can also use your services.

Raphael: Absolutely.

Nehemia: Anywhere in the world. So, we're here in Modi'in, Israel. This is Nehemia Gordon. We've been talking to Raphael Freeman, the greatest typesetter in Israel, who is married to the greatest real estate agent, realtor in Modi'in, who happens to be my sister. Raphael is not my sister, his wife is. All right, shalom from the place where the Maccabee uprising began.

Raphael: That’s right. Thank you very much, Nehemia.

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Show Notes:

Raphaël Freeman explaining the intricacies of Hebrew typesetting.

Raphaël Freeman explaining the intricacies of Hebrew typesetting.

Raphaël Freeman was born in London and made Aliyah to Israel in 1993. With a degree in Computer Science and Printing & Photographic Technology, he became Vice President of Production and Technology for Israel's largest English daily newspaper The Jerusalem Post. Later, Freeman led a team to re-typeset the historic Koren Bible, the standard Hebrew Tanakh used throughout the Jewish world and issued to Israeli soldiers during their swearing-in ceremony. Today, Freeman is the Owner and Senior Typesetter at Renana Typesetting in Modiin, Israel, offering a full array of services from editing, proofreading, typesetting, jacket design to commercial printing and distribution in bookstores around the world. He also specializes in creation of e-books for iOS and Mac.

  • Janice says:

    Amazing !