February 2, 2010

Room for improvement. No—wait—airplane hangar for improvement.

Posted in advice, books, e-books, production, technology at 9:34 pm by India


India, Ink., has moved. The live version of this post is now located at http://ink.indiamos.com/2010/02/02/room-for-improvement-no—wait—airplane-hangar-for-improvement/. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Below are slides from a presentation Liza Daly gave at the Digital Book World conference last week. There are elaborative notes on the DBW site.

View more presentations from Digital Book World.

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August 22, 2009

When, not if

Posted in advice, hardware, technology, Tools at 10:32 pm by India

Backup Tapes

Today over tea I was holding forth about backup methods, which reminded me that I’ve long meant to post something about how I’ve been handling it. To wit: right now, I’ve got a two-part system—constant partial backup online via SugarSync and less frequent but complete offline backup using Time Machine and an external hard drive.

Yes, I got backup religion the hard way, by having my laptop drive fail in 2006 when it was six months out of standard warranty. I was able to salvage most of my data using Prosoft Data Rescue, but only because I happened to notice before it went into a complete dive that the drive had failed its S.M.A.R.T. status test. Now I keep Smart Reporter in my menu bar, and I back up constantly and redundantly, over and over again, a lot. And I always fork up the money for AppleCare, which replaced that dead drive in a weekend.
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July 6, 2009

Please, Mister Postman

Posted in advice, humor, Rants, typography at 2:26 pm by India

post office

Oh, I think I need to make a field trip to the 11215 post office . . .

Dear Postmaster Potter:

I am writing to ask if you would please consider redecorating my local post office. Maybe you have heard of it: 11215. It’s the Park Slope Station in Brooklyn, New York, and I believe that a great many novelists spend time there, waiting to mail their manuscripts and galleys and quarterly estimated tax payments and whatnot, so perhaps it is the source of a great many written complaints. Or perhaps not. Anyway, may I elaborate on the nature of the problem?

The nature of the problem is choice of font.

Rudolph Delson, “An Open Letter to John E. Potter, Postmaster General” (PDF, 127 KB), February 12, 2007

Oh, but that is not the only problem, as it turns out. And these issues have been observed not only at the 11215 post office, as I’m sure many can attest. I particularly recommend the 10009 (Tompkins Square) location for psychotic signage (not to mention patrons).

I think I also need to get a copy of Mr. Delson’s novel, Maynard and Jennica.

(Via Manhattan Users Guide)

March 26, 2009

Big Is Beautiful

Posted in Accessibility, advice, books, Design, indexing, Typesetting, typography at 11:11 pm by India


I like getting to play Dear Abby! Though lately my responses read less like sage advice and more like columns by The Non-Expert—only not funny. Yesterday Sarah wrote with some questions:

Since 2002, I have been editor for our local historical society’s 20-page quarterly. When I first started, I did it in an old version of WordPerfect and (you’ll laugh) actually cut and pasted together the booklet and took it to our local printer.

Then I got slightly more high tech and started producing PDFs from the WordPerfect files.

The next thing was a switch to the Atlantis program, which produces .rtf files, from which I made PDFs to send to our local printer.

So, I still have all the old .wpd and .rtf files.

The historical society is now interested in taking the old issues, indexing them, and publishing the old issues in books (putting several together per volume) or perhaps just putting the old issues online.

However, there is not much of a budget for new software. The new software would need to do indexing and be able to handle endnotes and read the old files.

I am looking at Serif Page Plus and SoftMaker’s TextMaker. Have you heard anything pro or con or about these programs?

As a side issue — I am also looking into producing Large Print versions of documents. It seems that there are all sorts of standards that different organizations have for producing large print books. Do you have any advice for what standard to use, and how to handle graphics for large print books (obviously the graphics need to be bigger, but I don’t know how much).

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March 20, 2009

Attn.: InDesign Salvage Operations Team

Posted in advice, Lazyweb, Tools at 2:37 pm by India

Relief workers inspect smashed carriages after railway accident at Camp Mountain, Queensland

Justin asks,

do you have any tips for recovering “damaged” files?

when i try to open a layout i was just working on, it prompts me to fix the file from recovered data, then notifies me that the file may be damaged; it starts to recover, but then the program quits altogether.

[. . .] if there’s no easy solution, this means a ton of work lost … are you familiar with this quandary? any suggestions?

Anyone? Anyone? I haven’t experienced this in a long time, so my response was vague:

. . . the first thing to try would probably be moving your preferences folder to the desktop and forcing InDesign to rebuild it. That’ll get the program to launch properly, at least, and then maybe you can recover the file from there. Details:
InDesign Secrets: Rebuilding InDesign Preferences.

The second option would be trying to get someone at Adobe to look at it, by posting a query on the forums. Sometimes they respond pretty quickly.

Finally, if the time you’d lose redoing everything would be worth $99,
you could send the document to Markzware for their voodoo file rescue
service: Markzware blog: Fix your Bad Adobe InDesign Files!

Other suggestions? If the file could be opened, I’d say export to .inx; that cures a lot of ills. When you can’t open it, though, I dunno.

I should also mention here that perhaps one reason this hasn’t happened to me in a long time is that I regularly create new save-as versions while I work—foo(1).indd → foo(2). indd → foo(2b).indd (a variant I’m not sure about) → etc. Doing a “save as” compresses the file, and I feel in my heart that it removes a lot of potentially corrupting gunk and thereby keeps my files more stable. Having snapshots of all those previous stages also makes it easier to roll back parts of a file, selectively.

An aside: Does anybody out there use Version Cue? I’ve never bothered. Does it help with this kind of stuff at all?

March 18, 2009

In like a lion, out like a lamb

Posted in advice, Tools, Typesetting at 10:06 pm by India

lion and lamb

I spent a ridiculous amount of time yesterday converting two files: one Quark XPress 6 document to InDesign CS4, and one WordPerfect document to MS Word 2004. Part of the time-suck was because my apartment is disorganized and I couldn’t, um, find one of my laptops. Most of it, though, was because I’ve forgotten a lot of my old file-conversion juju.

I used to have to jump through these kinds of hoops all the time, salvaging manuscript files that had been prepared in weird old programs on MS-DOS or whatever. But since I drifted out of the exciting world of typesetting, I haven’t had to convert a lot of texty documents. Video, audio, and image files, yes, but not so much with the text.

So, in case anybody else has forgotten or never knew how to do this stuff, here’s what I had to relearn yesterday.
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February 1, 2009

What is one thing you would you do to change book publishing for the better?

Posted in advice, books, business at 4:19 pm by India

sprucing up the books

For the past several days, novelist Jason Pinter has been posting responses by publishing people to the question “What is one thing you would you do to change book publishing for the better?” There’s a wide range of recommendations, from people in many parts of the industry. Some snippets that I found worth noting (in most cases, these are excepts from longer comments):

I’d get the major publishers together on a standard e-book format, one that’s DRM-free and not tied to a device (like the kindle). Most important, we need to get e-book prices down. Charging the same price (or more!) than a hardcover for a digital file is absolutely ludicrous—we’re hamstringing this technology at a crucial phase in its development.
David Moldawer, editor, Portfolio/Penguin Books [part 2]


If you’re not passionate about books, get out of this business. If you’re not willing to fight for something better, get out of this business. If you’re not willing to dust yourself off the ground, get out of this business. If you’re not helping others and you’re being selfish about preserving your meager place on the ladder, get out of this business. If on the other hand you’re living in the present and paying attention to the future, and you have the chops and the fortitude to persuade the stubborn holdouts . . . , then you’re absolutely vital to the future of publishing. You’re needed. And you must go in and change things for the better.
Ed Champion, editor of Reluctant Habits and creator of ‘The Bat Segundo Show’ [part 2]

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January 30, 2009

How to pick better fonts

Posted in advice, books, business, Design, Reading, typography at 4:29 pm by India

golden section tattoo

How do you pick your fonts? It’s easy! Just look at type samples and find one that catches your eye. Throw that one out.

All this month, Tom Christensen of the always interesting Right Reading has been guest-blogging over at ForeWord magazine. For his final post, he offers “a simplified speed course in making books that readers will want to pick up”: “Book Design Primer.”

It’s very basic, as advertised, but he mentions a way of using the golden section that I’d never considered, so you, too, may learn something.
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January 2, 2009

Am I going blind?

Posted in advice, Lazyweb, Tools at 1:51 pm by India

Happy New Year! Here’s my first lazyweb request of 2009:

guides in Photoshop CS4

Can you see the guides in this screenshot? How about the control points on the path? Because I can’t, and it’s making me nuts. Read the rest of this entry »

November 19, 2008

The Designers Review of Books

Posted in advice, books, Design, Reading at 9:56 am by India

Designers Review of Books nameplate


(Via Margaret)

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