February 12, 2010

E-book Abomination Index

Posted in books, e-books, production, Rants, technology, typography at 4:40 am by India

Deprecated!

India, Ink., has moved. The live version of this post is now located at http://ink.indiamos.com/2010/02/12/e-book-abomination-index/. Sorry for the inconvenience!

I’ve been reading a lot of e-books in the past ten days or so, and I have seen a lot of messy formatting. But the latest one takes the cake: a McGraw-Hill Professional book in which the first letter of every paragraph appears on a line by itself. Thus:

T
he quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.

Hella annoying. And there was an egregious typo in the book, repeated three times in one paragraph. Annoying enough that I dug around on the McGraw-Hill site until I found a place to lodge my complaint.

But then I got to thinking, as I filled out their lengthy incident report form, that if I want to report every fucked-up e-book I come across—which is most of them—I could spend the rest of my life chasing around on publishers’ websites for the buried feedback addresses or forms. And then I thought, Why not set up a sort of Hall of Shame where not only I but anyone else who finds a crappy e-book can post the gory details?

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you the E-book Abomination Index submission form?
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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

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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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February 1, 2010

Clarifications

Posted in books, business, e-books, production, Rants, technology, Typesetting at 2:42 pm by India


Left: Eirik Newth. Right: Me.
Easy mistake; could happen to anyone, we’re so alike. Except that, y’know, he’s a genius.

Here (with some corrections), in case anybody else interpreted my posts from this weekend in similar ways, is a way-too-long comment I just posted in response to Doyce Testerman’s Publishing, Charlotte*, and John*. You should start there, or it won’t make much sense. The part of Doyce’s post where poor Eirik gets dragged into things and where my grumbling gets taken somewhat out of context is at the very end:

In the postscript to this piece, Eirik Newth explains why Big Publishing consistently cites costs to create ebooks that fall miles outside my experience and expectation.

Short version: they’re doing it wrong.

Long version:

Publishers are still producing paper books the “X-Acto–and–wax” way and then outsourcing their e-book production to other companies, which probably automate the conversion process, and then they’re not practicing any kind of QA on what comes back, because nobody gives a shit, because the people who make the decisions don’t read e-books.

No wonder they think making an ebook is an expensive, time-consuming process.

Yes, you read that right. Publishers aren’t producing workable electronic files when they produce a paper book — their product essentially has to be OCR’d by a third party company to get an ebook out of it. They start with a hardcopy and make someone else turn it into an electronic version, which they’ll never read.

Oops. So I sez to him I sez, No, actually, you didn’t read that right:
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September 28, 2009

California, here I come!

Posted in bookbinding, books, education, production, technology, Tools at 9:06 pm by India

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India, Ink., has moved. The live version of this post is now located at http://ink.indiamos.com/2009/09/28/california-here-i-come/. Sorry for the inconvenience!

book bindings

Now I know what I’ll be doing next time I’m in SF: Tim James of Taurus Bookbindery has opened the American Bookbinders Museum. The Chronicle reports.

In the museum sits an 800-pound Imperial arming press from 1832 that James bought and had shipped from France three years ago. Asked how expensive that was, he answers “frightfully,” declining to elaborate. James has been working on the museum for 15 years, accumulating paper cutters, paper samples, lettering tools, contraptions for lining blank paper, photos, manuals, and union pins from the International Brotherhood of Bookbinders.

Earlier this year he attained nonprofit status and started giving tours by appointment. In August he opened to the public. Admission is free and on Saturdays binder Tom Conroy is there working in the traditional fashion.

Even if you’re not going to San Francisco in the foreseeable future, do look at their website, which includes, among other things, a database of books annotated with salty comments such as,

Edition:
First, one hopes
Annotations:
This may not be the most utterly useless self-published book ever written on binding your own books; and it may not be the very worst bound. It must, however, be in the final running for both prizes.
Condition:
Covers heavily cockled, pages cockled at gutter, from poor binding technique

(On A How-To Guide: Bookbinding from Home)

Have any of you dear readers yet been there? If so, please report.

(Thanks, Jack!)

September 4, 2009

To be fond of ; to like ; to have good will toward ; to delight in, with preëminent affection.

Posted in art, bookbinding, books, coveting, illustration, Inspiration, letterpress, printing, production, Typesetting, typography, Video at 1:14 pm by India

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India, Ink., has moved. The live version of this post is now located at http://ink.indiamos.com/2009/09/04/to-delight-in-with-preeminent-affection/. Sorry for the inconvenience!

Love.

Chronicle Books had only a dummy of the trade edition at BEA, but the book is out now. (Buy it through Indiebound.)
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August 26, 2009

Mysteries of publishing revealed!

Posted in books, business, production at 3:35 am by India

Secret of the Old Clock

My esteemed former colleague Shelby Peak has written a tidy breakdown of ye typical book production schedule, When’s that book coming out? It’s based mostly on her current day job, which is at a large academic publisher, so I’d love to hear others chime in (ouch?) on how the timing in other contexts differs.
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June 11, 2009

Indexigning

Posted in books, Design, indexing, production, Tools, Typesetting at 4:45 am by India

talk to your kids about indexing

Via e-mail, Lars R. asks, “Would you consider doing a write-up on your blog on the production of indices and how indexing relates to the design process as a whole?”

Some topics I’m interested in include

– The usefulness of InDesign’s indexing feature (as opposed to third party programmes if they exist, or simply manually typing in numbers)
– The practicalities of the designer being involved with the nitty gritty versus any sort of indexing specialist working independently)
– At which stage in the production process indexing begins and ends
– Differences between independent/inhouse publishers and large commercial affairs
– Does the designer generally have any input to level of detail, extent etc, or is it exclusively a case of matter having priority over form? How does the index influence castoff?

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March 27, 2009

The future of publishing is here today!

Posted in books, Design, hardware, humor, production, technology, Tools at 9:43 pm by India

wire-sewing machine

The oddest thing about the newly announced winner of Bookseller magazine’s annual Diagram Prize for Oddest Book Title of the Year is not its title, The 2009–2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais, but rather that its author, Professor Philip M Parker of the French business school Insead, has produced more than 200,000 books,

thanks to his invention – and patenting – of a machine which writes books, creating them from internet and database searches in order to eliminate or substantially reduce “the costs associated with human labour, such as authors, editors, graphic artists, data analysts, translators, distributors and marketing personnel”.

I think the graphic artist–eliminating part of the machine may need a bit of work, since if the competition had been based on covers rather than titles, I feel certain that Fromage Frais, for all its charm, would have lost out to either Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring or Curbside Consultation of the Colon, which were merely shortlisted.

The 2009–2014 World Outlook for 60-Milligram Containers of Fromage Frais Techniques for Corrosion Monitoring Curbside Consultation of the Colon

More: “Oddest Book Title prize goes to treatise on fromage frais” by Alison Flood, Guardian, March 27, 2009

October 13, 2008

Calibrate!

Posted in books, print-on-demand, printing, production, technology, Tools at 9:08 am by India

For anyone who uses print-on-demand outfits such as Lulu.com, or who has been considering doing so, Cathi points out the following brilliance:

Dear Lulu” is a test book researched and produced by graphic design students and Prof. Frank Philippin at Hochschule Darmstadt, Germany, during an intensive two-day workshop with London-based designer James Goggin (Practise). The book’s intention is to act as a calibration document for testing colour, pattern, format, texture and typography.

Exercises in colour profile (Adobe RGB/sRGB/CMYK/Greyscale), halftoning, point size, line, geometry, skin tone, colour texture, cropping and print finishing provide useful data for other designers and self-publishers to judge the possibilities and quality of online print-on-demand — specifically Lulu.com, with this edition.

The book’s price is set at Lulu.com’s exact printing cost per unit.

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August 13, 2008

The many delights of publishing

Posted in books, Editing, production, Reading, Typesetting at 3:00 pm by India

headband

Bridget points out Rachel Toor’s “A Publishing Primer” in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Excerpts:

French flaps: Extensions of the cover of a paperback that fold elegantly back inside the book and hold extra copy, in imitation of the flaps of the jacket of a hardcover book. Très chic.

. . .

Headbands: Adorable, colorful ribbons at the top and bottom of hardcover books. They are there to delight you.

. . .

Monograph: A scholarly tome on a single subject or limited aspect of a subject. Monographs were once bought primarily by libraries that used to have “standing orders” for all books on certain topics from specific presses. Those days are gone. Those days have been gone for a long time. Remember that when you are revising your dissertation.

. . .

Orphan: This refers to the first line of a paragraph left sitting by itself at the bottom of a page. “Widows” are the final line of a paragraph left alone at the top of a page. It’s the publisher who creates that kind of loneliness; it’s the publisher who should take care of it.

Some of it is specific to academic publishing, and much of it is, sadly, pretty straightforward, but you may find it of use when trying to explain certain phenomena to the uninitiated.

Photo: 2008-01-25 3 Headband by Du-Sa-Ni-Ma; some rights reserved.

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