The writer/publisher – part 7

The adventure continues.

Like most other high-tech activities, printing has its share of little "gotchas". This causes a lot of "scurrying behind the curtain" between the time you send in your shining manuscript and the time that the printer delivers the first copy of your book. An entire industry exists to handle this area and it includes book design, prepress activity, and the printing itself.

This industry exists because the fonts and features that make it easy for you to bang out another sizzling novel or ponderous treatise on your Remington/Word Processor/PDA while in your garret/Starbucks/floating in your pool do not meet the needs of a printing press/Docutech/digital toner thingy.

Simply put, MS Word and Truetype fonts cannot make the final printed work look like what you originally created. To make things more interesting, printing technology is changing as rapidly as desktop data entry. This creates an interesting scenario. There is a lot that must be done in order to transform your stream of words into a book – but the requirements are changing every six months.

Talk to ten printers and you will get at least three different solutions, depending how old their equipment is. Talk to book designers and POD (Print On Demand) services and you will get different stories from them because, again, this area is in flux.

The bright spot in all this is that it does not take rocket science to create a document that any printer can then process further to run on his own type of press.

Since I have more time than money and have a naturally flippant attitude toward new challenges, I have chosen to take on the challenge of doing the complete book design.

You have not had an update on this project for a few days becasuse I was learning how to use Adobe Indesign, the latest page layout and design tool for high-level digital publishing.

This is an outrageously great tool that lets you combine elements from a variety of sources to make multipage documents for reproduction as books, magazines, what have you.

The learning curve is very steep, but the results are worth it, if you are crazy enough to want complete control of the design and execution of your book.

InDesign will completely replace tools like Quark XPress and Adobe PageMaker. It provides sophisticated control of every aspect of page layout and design.

I would even suggest that some newly-jettisoned cubicle types might look into investing a little time and money to become InDesign experts. It is an employment niche that might last for a few years…and you can do it from home!

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0 Responses to The writer/publisher – part 7

  1. David Robarts says:

    When InDesign first came out I read about a feature that amazed me. It’s called “Optical Margin Alignment.” Optical margin alignment means that InDesign will slightly adjust the margin depending on the shape of the character next to the margin. Most punctuation will hang over the margin quite a bit because if it were lined up to a strict margin, it would look slightly indented.

    When I learned that InDesign was used here in the Architecture Department at Cal Poly, I was thrilled at the prospect of getting my hands on the student version. I remembered having read about optical alignment, but didn’t remember what it was called or how to access the feature. In December, I finally found the feature (after submitting my projects for my digital tools class). The feature is accessed through the story pallet. Choose Story from the Type menu.

    Another thing that I missed until it was too late for my projects was adjusting the clipboard settings in Illustrator so that I could copy a path into InDesign and use it as a frame.

    InDesign is a great page layout program. I know that InDesign and Pagemaker coexisted as Adobe products for a while, but I think Adobe has discontinued development of Pagemaker. As far as Quark XPress goes, I’ve heard that it has some features that make it better for regularly publishing a periodical so it will probably continue to be used by the newspaper industry for a long time. At the very least established periodicals will be slow to migrate for a system that is working for them now. One reason OS X was adopted slowly was that Quark took a long time to get XPress out of Classic into OS X native code.

    Good luck on your book. I love InDesign. Have fun!

  2. L. Thomas Martin says:

    Here are a few of the many resources for learning InDesign and getting a helping hand when you’re stuck:

    OmniPilot [was: Blueworld] InDesign Talk;

    forums on Adobe’s website;

    directory of InDesign user groups;

    tips and so on from Anne-Marie Concepcion.


  3. LTM,

    Thanks for the tips.
    I welcome all of the help I can get.

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