Musings on Photography

Getting Ready

Posted in books by Paul Butzi on December 23, 2007

In anticipation of the successful launch of ISoPhoBoMo (and to advance on several book and book-like projects) I have contrived to acquire a copy of Adobe InDesign CS3, which is now happily installed on both the Mac Pro and the laptop.

Last night I fired it up, having read through bits of “Real World Adobe InDesign CS3”. My intent was to actually make an attempt at starting a layout for a book – because there’s nothing like actually trying to do something to show you what you don’t know but need to know.

Man, there’s nothing like looking at that blank first page and thinking “Ok, so what does the title page of a photo book look like” to send you scurrying to the bookshelf and pulling the photo books off by the dozens, and looking at all the title pages. And then the copyright pages. And then to see how they’ve sectioned the book up.

And what strikes me is that some books are quite ugly, even if they have very nice photographs in them. And there are some books which are nicely designed, too – some with nice photos, and some with not so nice photos.

My theory is that I should be able to produce a mediocre book by copying the better designed ones. In the process, I’m hoping I’ll figure out enough to actually make a passable go at a book by the time iSoPhoBoMo rolls around.

For what it’s worth, InDesign does not seem to be quite so overwhelming as Photoshop.

8 Responses

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  1. Ed Richards said, on December 23, 2007 at 6:47 pm

    Keep us posted on Indesign and how well the Real World book works for it.

    I laid out a big book, with footnotes, indexes, etc., in Framemaker years back, and the learning curve was fierce. It was not very intuitive, so I found that 5 years later it was as if I had never touched the program. I would not do that again unless I had to publish a service manual for a jet engine or something else about 10,000 pages long.:-)

    Something to look for, or perhaps develop, are layout templates. It should be possible to have a set of templates that someone without much knowledge of Indesign could use to layout a book.

  2. Ed Richards said, on December 23, 2007 at 6:55 pm

    The Idesign Ideabook might be a good start:

  3. Les Richardson said, on December 24, 2007 at 10:52 am

    Depending on what you’re trying to accomplish, I would focus on the content and not get bogged down with ‘design’. Typically the authoring process is separate from the ‘editor/typographer’ process.

    In this case, I’m not sure how intertwined the two may be. I would suggest a very simple authoring environment if you’re mainly laying down words (ie. a text editor), and if words and pictures perhaps a text editor where you put in some img tags and render in a browser. Fiddlin’ around with other stuff is distracting and will slow you down.

    Once done, just autoflow it into InDesign and drop in pictures, then layout, pagination.

    My 2 cents worth…

    Les Richardson
    Open Admin for Schools

  4. Ed Richards said, on December 24, 2007 at 11:14 am

    Les raises an interesting point. If the project is to just get pictures on bound pages, the best bet is probably MS publisher or using Blurb’s authoring software. It will not be professional looking, but it make the pictures most of the work.

    If the project is to make a real book, one that looks professional, then layout, esp. for the first one, is much more difficult than getting the pictures. (Hence my original questions about whether this was realistic in a month’s time.)

  5. Les Richardson said, on December 24, 2007 at 7:02 pm

    MS Publisher is a toy suitable only for creating a newsletter for the wife’s book club. It has no real control over layout precision, typography, etc. It is a toy piece of eye candy. Not worthy of one’s time.

  6. dave beckerman said, on December 25, 2007 at 6:19 am

    I’ve been using inDesign for a month or so for my own layouts – and once you’ve got the basics, i.e. master pages, a couple of styles, it’s not too difficult. Easy to export to PDF so it can be a pretty universal input, though the POD company I’ve been using – SharedInk – doesn’t accept them.

  7. Gordon McGregor said, on December 26, 2007 at 6:58 am

    Perhaps a useful aspect of this would be some sort of survey of the print on demand options available for photographic books.

    I know there’s the whole world of wedding album and snapshot printers from low to high end ( to but I’m not as familiar with the print on demand book focused companies – I’ve heard of and but is new to me.

    Are there any with useful publishing software that goes beyond so simple as to be frustrating almost immediately you want to do something interesting ?

    Is InDesign and doing it all yourself the best way to go ?

  8. Gordon Coale said, on January 27, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    MS Publisher is pretty lightweight and InDesign is pretty expensive. (Does it cost more that $0? If it does it is too expensive.) I’ve been looking at opensource Scribus. [] It should be more than up to the task, seems to have great PDF support, and is priced right — $0. I like it!

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