A Linux-Based Photography Workflow (Part 4: Producing Books and Folios)


Key: R20110210-201845

This is part of a series of posts on Linux-based software tools for a photography workflow. Please read that first if you are coming to this series fresh–it will provide the necessary background information to explain the purpose of this series.

My next post in this series was supposed to be on making panoramas. I’ve run into a bit of a snag on that one and I’m going to push it to the end of the series. So we’ll move on to talking about Linux based software that I use to create books and folios.

This is actually an easy post to write because I’m going to point you at a fair bit of writing that I did in the last year or so on these subjects. So without further ado, let me point you at my categorized posts on books and another set of tagged posts on folios. Finally a pointer to my set of templates for books and folios.

A summary for those who may not wish to dwell deeper:
After some brief and successful forays into desktop publishing books using Scribus (a graphical tool), I ultimately settled on a method using the venerable La(TeX) markup language to create works that can be targeted as web PDFs (so called “E-books”), books from PDFs using Blurb.com or some other Publish On Demand service, and web and print-based folios. The method gives up some control of manually laying out the work by automating the layout using a markup language (LaTeX) coupled with TeX’s tried-and-true hyphenation and page layout algorithms. I realize that this method is probably too technical for the average photographer. However, if you have any kind of technical bent (and you well might, if you are considering a Linux-based photography workflow), you may find that the trade off is well worth it. Manual layout of books is a slow and somewhat tedious process, especially with a GUI program. A mark-up language based approach is not only faster, but inherently tweakable when your output needs change.

From the LaTeX source, xelatex or pdflatex will produce a PDF file.  I use evince (a very good PDF viewer, part of the standard Ubuntu desktop) to review the PDFs for correctness.  Once satisfied with the PDF I can either upload it to Blurb.com if I am ordering a book, or to a a web site (e.g. Issuu.com) if I am just creating an e-book.  Folios are uploaded to a web site, or printed on inkjet paper using a method that will discussed in the upcoming post on printing. After using these methods I cannot imagine going back to manual layout approaches for most books and folios.  However, if you enjoy (or need or prefer) the manual control of a GUI layout program, I can heartily recommend Scribus.  You could spend a lot of money on Adobe InDesign or some other DTP program and never use more than the feature set that Scribus offers for free.

Addendum: I use the aforementioned Image Magick convert program scripted from Python to downsample my photographs from a master folder for the book or folio.  In true geek fashion, a Makefile is used to ensure that all the images are downsampled to the appropriate size for the web or print, depending on the target output.

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