Sunday, October 30, 2005

Making books

Some time ago, a very successful friend of mine told me he wanted to publish a book of my photographs. He wanted me to learn InDesign and do the layout myself. I was thrilled at the prospect because, who doesn't want a book? Or, as my friend said, "There's something about a book." But I was about to move and didn't have time to attack the project right away. As time went on and I didn't work on it, I got further and further away from the idea that I could make it happen. I guess I was afraid that I wouldn't be successful at it; and that I wouldn't be able to find the proper theme or pick the right images, or, or, or. Every excuse I could think of not to move forward.

Thankfully, I've had a paradigm shift in my thinking (or better fear-of-failure management) and I am now ready to move forward. Why now? I have been thinking about the elusive, fragile, and transitory nature of the digital medium. Most of the work I do now - that all of us who do art on computers do now - is intangible. What I mean is that there is nothing that can be held in one's hand or placed on a wall or stored in an old yellow Kodak photo paper box. The images are stored in formats that might not be easily accessible with tomorrow's technology - on storage media that is unproven over the long haul (cds, dvds, etc.). While I'm alive, I'll make sure to resave my work to the newest and most durable media. But it's a constant, time consuming effort to manage all of this stuff. And will anyone else bother? Or even know what lurks on my computer and in the boxes and boxes of cds gathering dust on my shelves?

So, that's why a book now. I want something that lasts beyond me in a form that is easy for my kids and grandchildren to find and examine. Totally narcissistic right? But what could be more narcissistic than writing a blog anyway? Assuming that what one says has any value to anyone else.

I decided that before I begin on the book I was asked to make, I would make one or two others in order to become accomplished at the process and art of book design. Because there are several viable publishing on demand (POD) options out there now, I could design a book, make a copy or two, and offer it for sale if I was satisfied. If not, I hadn't invested much money and I had learned a lot.

iPhoto's iBook has several new formats and most importantly, you can choose blank pages without a template. The templates offered by iBook and My Publisher (non Apple equivalent) are really basic and not very attractive. So, what I've done is to lay out a book in InDesign that is the exact dimensions of the iBook. I can save the InDesign book to a pdf file and then use Acrobat to save the individual pages as jpegs which can then be imported into iBook. It's been working very well.

After I had already started laying out my first book for iBook, I learned about Lulu. Besides offering POD, they can also register the book for an isbn from the Library of Congress and offer it for sale through Amazon and B&N, etc. I think I might try them for my next book.

making books part two


Russ said...

iPhoto's publishing is decent enough if your book is only photos. Indesign is great, (Quark express is really old news) but really is most useful when there is a lot of type, especially type that needs text to flow around photos, etc. Your final output, regardless, will probably be in the .pdf format, as most print houses have generally accepted that. My point being it might be easier for you to create your book in photoshop, if text will be at a minimum. The key is who you are using to print.

David Ramage said...

Thanks for the feedback. I'm only using iPhoto because I want to get a look at what the work looks like in a bound book. It's a good way to practice getting my design chops down before the "real" book. I'm really learning InDesign for a book project that will be going to a traditional printer. I'm really enjoying the process of using InDesign anyway. And there will be a fair amount of text in some of my future projects.

Shepherd said...

Congrats on moving forward. I've made two books through iPhoto, one for each parent chronicling their life in pictures. Each was a success on a personal level and also for them. Mostly they were photos with captions for the pictures. Thanks for sharing your process and I am looking forward to your results. Good luck.

Pierre J. Mejlak said...

All the best!

Harisankar said...

its a cool idea wishing u all sucess....