Archive for November, 2012

The Anatomy of Type

Add comment November 30th, 2012

What a book!

From the first page, Erik Spiekermann’s Foreword, The Anatomy of Type spoke to me. Mr. Spiekermann made it clear that this book is for both type geeks and for those who are more focused on the use of type for particular reasons. In fact, he could have been speaking of me, way back in 1989, discovering Avant Garde, one of the resident family of fonts on my first Macintosh, a IIx, when he wrote,

We like best what we see most. … Gimmicks don’t work, as they wear off quickly, and basing a whole alphabet on one idea also doesn’t fly. This is painfully apparent, for example, in a page set in Avant Garde Gothic, whose geometric shapes separate characters from each other rather than combine them into words.

Would that I had known that way back when. But Avant Garde was one of my two favorite types at the start, the other being Palatino. I liked what I saw most, all right.

And Mr. Coles’ book would have gone a long way for me as a textbook and gotten me up to snuff far more quickly than the roundabout trial-and-error fashion in which I wound up learning the things I know now about using type. In little more than a dozen pages, from his Introduction through half-page representations of the various type classifications, Mr. Coles’ creates a foundation for those learning to begin accumulating real type smarts.

And then the fun begins.

Some of the “Good for” comments, particularly about text faces I have used in books, made me smile at first blush, amused. Upon reflection I got more the sense that saying something in a witty manner does not mean the speaker is making light of his subject.

The front cover is a wonder, packing a great deal of information into both its text and the labeled graphic. It pretty neatly displays all the book is about, providing a one-line descriptor after the subtitle, “Examining Shoulders, Spines, and Tails in Detail.”

And really, what more could one ask for in a book for type students and typophiles? I know I discovered a few types that knocked some of my favorites off their pedestals, some that I have added to my list of “text faces I intend to use when the right book arrives,” and one or two sans serifs that I put on a very short list—to this point it had only had Optima on it—of sans serifs I would like to use for body text in a book.

Mr. Coles has written and presents quite a thoughtful collection of insights on typefaces, illustrated by the types themselves and, ultimately, I only wish he had included more, simply because I did not want the book to end so quickly.

My First (Test) Ebook Project with Red Jumper Studio’s Book Creator for iPad

Add comment November 1st, 2012

I cannot remember exactly when or where I first heard about Red Jumper Studio’s Book Creator for iPad; but it couldn’t be more than a couple of weeks ago and somewhere online. It sounded like a great entry point for me to again try to get stoked about making ebooks, an app for repurposing print files for e-versions.

I have to admit there were some immediate red flags, even while reading about the iPad app. For one thing, even Red Jumper Studio suggests it’s probably best-suited for children’s picture books. It sounds like long docs were not their prime intention. Then, too, text will not flow from page to page or—I guess with ebooks it may be more accurate to say—from screen to screen. And Book Creator’s choice of typefaces is currently limited to fonts native to the iPad.

On the other hand, Book Creator for iPad is made for fixed layout ebooks.

You may all assume this last point won me over to at least explore what Book Creator offers, how it works, and what its end-product looks like.

So with all this in mind, I dug out a copy of Adrienne Ehlert Bashista’s Mishka: An Adoption Tale (Pittsboro, NC: DRT Press, 2007). With really pleasing illustrations by Miranda R. Mueller, this is one of the books I am most proud to be associated with.

If text would flow from page to page until it was all out there, I think that would have been fine. I would have found a new body text face/display face combination to suit this new version of the book. But having both factors forced on me by the program got me to thinking. Since I had to run illustrations on very nearly every page and JPEG files were best suited to this, that would mean downsampling artfiles to screen resolution and resaving as JPEGs.

The method I arrived at was one that could easily be brought into Action/Batch routines in Photoshop for quick, repeated steps for each piece of art. Seeing, however, that there were relatively few pages—compared to something other than a picture storybook for children—I wanted to do them manually, one at a time, to see how each illustration looked before placing them. I decided then to keep the body text and, essentially, make each page—including the text—an illustration. This allowed me to keep the original typefaces as part of those illustrations.

Here is the process I used:

  1. Open the PDF of all the interior pages of the book in Adobe Acrobat Pro—I currently work in version 10.1.4.
  2. Create a new folder and name it for the new ebook’s art.
  3. Select Tools => Pages => Extract and choose Extract Pages As Separate Files. Make sure to choose the new folder to save the Extracted Pages into.
  4. Open the first extracted PDF file in Photoshop as a Photoshop PDF.
  5. Select Image => Mode => RGB … if Mode is not already RGB.
  6. Resample at screen resolution by selecting Image => Image Size … and entering 72 for Resolution.
  7. Select File => Save As. For Format, choose JPEG and leave all other specs as is. Click Save. Enter 12 for Quality. Click OK.

And that was the process. Easy to see how this can be turned into an Action and then applied to the whole folder of individual PDFs in a Batch operation.

After repeating until each individual PDF was a 72 dpi JPEG, I did the same for the front cover.

Then it was simply a matter of placing all of these JPEGs, beginning with the front cover on the first page, the Cover, in Book Creator for iPad’s landscape layout. The JPEGs had to be sized, of course, to fill out the page; but, essentially, that was it. After placing all 33 PDFs, the ebook—technically an iBook, though not one created with Apple’s proprietary iBooks Author—was complete, as the sample pages below demonstrate.

 

Now these are just the first few pages of my “test ebook” of Mishka: An Adoption tale. My understanding is that, technically, this is actually a variant of an iBook, although it was not created with Apple’s own iBook Author app. But by opening in still another piece of free software, Adobe’s Digital Editions, it’s possible to view as an ebook on something other than an iPad. And it can be opened in atill another free app, Sigal, and saved in the .mobi format for viewing on the Kindle.

My next thought is to try repurposing a general non-fiction book, something much larger than a 32-page children’s storybook and loaded with text, an adult’s book.


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