On making your own photo book

When it comes to making a PDF for the upcoming SoFoBoMo, I will be looking at open source tools for the purpose. There are several choices, the top two probably being Scribus (a full featured desktop publishing program) and OpenOffice (a full featured word processing program).

Everything tells me that Scribus would be the better tool, ultimately, for a book that is primarily about photos. The difference is essentially trading off exact positioning of page elements vs. a primary text flow approach with wrapping around frames. Basically, the word processor gives you a tool with excellent text flow and lets you insert occasional elements with minor tweaks, whereas the DP program is going to let you position everything precisely and then start tweaking (kerning, etc.).

I did have a go with Scibus once with the idea of creating an online PDF book. The problem I had with it was twofold: the images in the previews looked terrible (which doesn’t give you warm fuzzies about how the output is going to ultimately look), and when printed, I couldn’t get reliable color, compared to printing from other applications, even though it is a color-managed application (this may have to do with getting the right profiles embedded in the PDF).

On the other hand, I have had excellent results using OpenOffice to create documents with images and then using the PDF export button to create a PDF. But then again, OO is not color managed.

I’ll be having a go with both of these applications for the SoFoBoMo book. I’ll report on my results with them here. It may be that the best approach is to edit text in OO Writer and then import it into Scribus.

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