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Tools and resources for simple self-publlishing and bookbinding?
December 22, 2005 9:59 AM   Subscribe

A colleague is interested in doing some personal desktop publishing and bookbinding. He came to me and asked a few questions I couldn't answer offhand and don't have the terms to google efficiently.

What is the term for sections of a bound book that are bound into facing pages -- they're kind of like sheaves of equal size folded together and have to be printed in a very specific collation of spreads in order for the pagination to work out? (I'm encountering the word "signature" in my searches for this) And (2) what's a good, inexpensive program for the PC to do this? Are there settings in MS Word that collate and paginate in this way? He's just obtained Microsoft Publisher, and I've tried to talk him into Adobe InDesign but he'd like to explore what's at hand first. Any help, tips or advice appreciated.
posted by George_Spiggott to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
1) signatures
2) indesign

that's it!
posted by miss tea at 10:13 AM on December 22, 2005


I would tell him NOT to spend any time on Publisher - it will give him a lot of bad habits that will be very hard to break. Far better to start working with Indesign now - keep on him about that. Playing with publisher is fine, but please don't try to actually produce a book using it. His output tools are very limited - he'll have to output to postscript files and then do all his imposition from there. And the typography controls in MP are total and complete crap, with horrible support for opentype and its various features.

A signature is indeed the type of spread you describe, and a gathering is a group of signatures collected for stitching into a book.

PCs can do much of what Macs can do in this area, and it's not really worth arguing one platform over the other, but in my 15 yrs experience, I'd tell your friend that starting on the Mac now may save him a fair amt of grief. It will also be much easier to get support; he'll find that the vast majority - well over 90% - of people doing fine typography and bookprinting will be using macs, if they use computers at all.

I myself set type using Indesign, output to film and from there make photopolymer plates or magnesium engravings which are mounted type-high on wood, and print on a Vandercook or clamshell from there.
posted by luriete at 10:18 AM on December 22, 2005


(Not that i recommend letterpress printing for a novice, that's just the way i go about it; he could just as easily print from litho plates made from the same film.)
posted by luriete at 10:20 AM on December 22, 2005


Thanks. I think what he wants to do is more basic and hands-on than that -- print the signatures on his own printer, in (e.g.) half-letter size so that he can fold standard paper over.

I'm trying to set up something for practice on InDesign (which I have, and have basic rough-and-ready experience with) but it has no index entries for signatures, and because "signature" has another much more common meaning, Google's returning nothing useful. How would I set it up so that you can print half-letter size signatures by, presumably, running the paper through twice on a single-sided printer?
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:24 AM on December 22, 2005


Indesign has a wonderful built-in plugin for this - go to file > inbooklet SE (i think it comes with most installations; if not, the SE version of inbooklet may be a free download) which lets you print sigs of almost any shape and layout - I think what your friend wants is a 2-up saddle-stitch layout.
posted by luriete at 10:29 AM on December 22, 2005


luriete -- just found the PageMaker Plugin Pack CD in the box. Installing now...
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:36 AM on December 22, 2005


I had a nice post written up, but on preview I see luriete has it covered. I'll just second luriete on a few points:

If he's serious about learning to do good book typography, he'll want to get InDesign. I've done work with it which would be difficult to do using any other software. I prefer using OS X over Windows, but he'll be okay with the Windows version of InDesign.
posted by D.C. at 10:40 AM on December 22, 2005


Corel Ventura or Adobe Framemaker for long, structured documents; InDesign for short, unstructured documents. They all have the necessary tools for making a wholly professional product (they are all professional tools, with professional prices.)
posted by five fresh fish at 10:41 AM on December 22, 2005


Actually, FFF, while Framemaker is a wonderful tool, I've been able to put together very highly-structured books of many hundreds of pages - with various interrelated grids, multiple indices and sub-indices, cross-referenced items in mutiple appendices and tables which pull data from a variety of local and remote sources (and graphics from a variety of remote sources, all updated via liveobjects) using Indesign just fine.

Since the majority of the scientific notation and index tools that made FM such a great tool have now been integrated into Indesign, and since some but not all of the new formatting and type-control tools from ID have been brought into FF, I think that with the latest version (CS2) and the right pro level OTF fonts, ID is actually quite a bit faster and more dependable for the kind of long, heavily structured documents that FM used to be the only real choice for.
posted by luriete at 11:11 AM on December 22, 2005


MS Word coupled with Lulu.com ?
posted by vanoakenfold at 11:22 AM on December 22, 2005


Other tools are much better, but if he really wants to use what is available, MS Publisher (at least 2003) will do the 2-up saddle stitch booklet he wants. I was pretty much forced into using it for a very recent project, and at least for basics it does a decent job and will allow him to easily print pages on his own printer.
posted by thebabelfish at 11:46 AM on December 22, 2005


Actually, FFF, while Framemaker is a wonderful tool, I've been able to put together very highly-structured books of many hundreds of pages - with various interrelated grids, multiple indices and sub-indices, cross-referenced items in mutiple appendices and tables which pull data from a variety of local and remote sources (and graphics from a variety of remote sources, all updated via liveobjects) using Indesign just fine.

Well, sure, and I did the user manual for AppleWorks 4.0 (500+ pages) in Microsoft Word 5 for Macintosh.

FrameMaker's what you want if your document is long, structured, or technical.
posted by kindall at 12:13 PM on December 22, 2005


I understand your analogy; I'm not saying that it *can* be done; I'm just saying that the tools that make FM the main choice for this sort of thing have for the most part been added to Indesign, so that it now handles most of the repetetive indexing operations and automatic stylesheet / nested style stuff that used to be the purview of FM, that's all. That, and Indesign's scriptability, make it (as of very recently) the equal of Framemaker for such documents - not just a possible replacement.
posted by luriete at 12:39 PM on December 22, 2005


The longest book I've done in InDesign was over 800 pages, structured, and had some unusual technical requirements. I've also done some complex scripting of InDesign to automate formatting of a certain type of data that used to take upwards of a hundred hours of work per book for a human to do manually.

What really made me like InDesign are the typographical controls, and I'm not just talking about OpenType support. For example, I'd rather chew my foot off than deal with a hyphenation & justification engine less advanced than what InDesign currently has.

There are many little things I'd like to see Adobe improve, but for the type of work I do none of the alternatives (FrameMaker, Quark XPress, Publisher, PageMaker, etc.) can do the job as well.
posted by D.C. at 1:30 PM on December 22, 2005


I am very glad to hear InDesign is becoming a usable long-document tool. Very cool.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:19 AM on December 23, 2005


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