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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Book Formats

I covered the proposed content of my book/zine project yesterday. Now, about the format: I'm still considering some things, but I wanted to focus on EPUB for the electronic version and have a print on demand option. Some of this depends on research into distribution channels. I was thinking about this as a commercial project, actually charging money, but that obviously raises issues, including whether anyone offers online distribution/fulfillment for EPUB the way Lulu offers it for print on demand. I'm still thinking the money thing over.

The more interesting aspect to the book formats question is that I plan on doing a tutorial series, as I have often  mentioned. Periodically, someone in the blogoverse starts asking about free or barebones layout options. It's always been a reminder that people really need some kind of tutorial on this: how to prep your content to make layout easy, what's available for free in terms of layout apps, how to do the actual layout. I've occasionally promoted the use of Markdown and Pandoc for text preparation, but I've never told people step by step how to do this. I've also been doing layout in InDesign (not free) for a couple years, but maybe I should investigate Scribus (free) so that I can tell people step by step how to do that as well; sort of an "I learn it so I can teach you" situation.

So the blogpost series is going to look something like this:

  1. before you begin: how to write your main content with Markdown
  2. prepping tables with the Pandoc version of Markdown
  3. (other text prep issues I may have forgotten, if separate posts are necessary)
  4. using Pandoc to create HTML or RTF
  5. using Pandoc to create EPUB
  6. (other Pandoc output posts, if necessary)
  7. low-end layout with Pandoc and OpenOffice
  8. basic layout with Pandoc and Scribus
  9. (other Scribus layout posts, as necessary)

These posts will all be written as I am working on the first book/zine, so that I can keep track of all the stuff I actually do (and, in some cases, learn) and keep focused on the stuff people will actually encounter as they try to set up their own workflow with the free tools available. I'll take the detour into OpenOffice land for those planning on submitting .doc format articles to Fight On!, Footprints, or other group production zines. I may even take a detour into diagram creation in Inkscape, or using Inkscape for character sheet PDFs. The plan is flexible, in case anyone wants to suggest things they'd like to see.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds incredibly useful to me. In fact, I'm almost looking forward to the tutorial aspect more than the content. One of the reasons that I haven't shared more "formal" work (like full modules) is that I'm not very experienced producing professional documents.