The option that wasn’t

Kobo advanced settings

One of the things I like—a unique feature, as far as I’ve seen—about Kobo’s e-reader software for iPhone OS is that it gives you a choice between vertical scrolling and traditional pagination. Because, really, what do pages mean on a digital reader where the text can reflow according to user preferences? Great. So, I selected vertical scrolling.

Problem is, even if you choose this setting, you will still run into page breaks:
Continue reading “The option that wasn’t”

That part of the future which is here today

page heart

As you may have gathered, if you’ve been following along, the reason I no longer post much around here is that I’m in grad school, in a program that doesn’t have anything to do with books. Not usually, anyway. It’s a two-year master’s deal, and I have to come up with a thesis sometime in the next couple of months, so I’m hoping to find some way to work books back into it. In the meantime, however, most of the connection between school and books is in the readings I do for my classes.

A few of these readings are in the form of actual bound books, most of which I’ve bought because I don’t have time to wait for them to be available at the library. Many more of the texts I have to read are stapled photocopies, just as Gutenberg printed them when I was in college six hundred years ago. But the majority of my readings this semester are online, either on good, old-fashioned Web pages or in dedicated e-book sites such as Safari or Books24x7, to which my university subscribes.

So, uh, I know it’s old news, but reading books onscreen sucks.
Continue reading “That part of the future which is here today”

California, here I come!

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,

First, one hopes
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.
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!)

When, not if

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.
Continue reading “When, not if”


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?

Continue reading “Indexigning”

The future of publishing is here today!

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

Attn.: InDesign Salvage Operations Team

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?

In like a lion, out like a lamb

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.
Continue reading “In like a lion, out like a lamb”