How do I put my great-grandmother's 'Writing Album' onto the Internet?
September 4, 2013 2:31 PM   Subscribe

I inherited this book from my mother. It was written between 1898 and 1907. There are approximately 95 pages which are gilt-edged and contain drawings photographs, sayings, autographs (one of Ellen Terry) etc. The cover is soft leather. At the moment I am copying each page as a jpg onto my desktop. I have Blogger and am putting the jpgs on to this post. However I feel there must be a better way of archiving this for my grandchildren, friends and relatives? Please help!
posted by lungtaworld to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Ebook? EPub?

I have a similar artifact, but mine's all typewritten onto individual sheets, then bound with brads. It's my grandfather's poetry; he was a retired chemical engineer who was fond of his cat. I've never been sure what to do with it.

I look forward to seeing your scans?
posted by amtho at 2:39 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Is there any reason a plain old .pdf wouldn't work? With archiving, you have to worry about a technology sticking around. For better or worse, .pdf seems pretty stable. If you made a beautiful flash website, well, it might have a limited shelf life (and a lot of browsers and users now don't see it).

So, there are a lot of ways you could display it online. I like issuu for visually striking content (you can page back and forth like a book), but it takes some design chops (I think not too many). I really like the option of print on demand books, where they create a copy of your book when somebody orders it (they now all offer ebook stuff too). I used Lightning Source and Createspace for clients at my old job. The art/photo people used Blurb, which looks cool but I've never used it (kinda spendy!). I'm pretty sure that their offerings have changed, so you may want to give all three (and beyond) a look. That would give your family the option to have ebooks on the web and access to a physical book replices for as long as you want; it costs you nothing to keep it "in print." Memail me if you want to talk any more about print on demand books and I'll share my rusty knowledge.

I look forward to reading this or seeing the website. It might be the kind of project that benefits from hiring a web developer, because I can't readily think of a CMS capable of handling images like those.
posted by sweltering at 2:59 PM on September 4, 2013

I'd save the original scans as .tif files because they're lossless, then use those for whatever else you decide to output. Open the .tif files & save as... to get your jpegs or your pdf files, becasue at that point, you can choose the level of compression you want for the resultant copy. You could make a multi-page .pdf file? PowerPoint is probably too low-resolution, so I wouldn't go that route. But if you had full res tiffs, you could present them in a variety of ways as it strikes your fancy/you find time.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:59 PM on September 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

I would rather put it on the Internet for all to see - also I have grandchildren on two other continents.
I'm not sure how to self publish an ebook.
posted by lungtaworld at 3:01 PM on September 4, 2013

What are your concerns about Blogger? Do you fear the site won't last, or isn't portable enough?

Otherwise, I agree with Devils Rancher. TIFF is a great stand-alone, lossless format that most image viewing programs recognize and they load easily. You can make multi-page TIFFs, but it's a bit weird to view these in some cases.

PDFs are the next best thing, especially for multi-page documents. You can build a PDF from TIFFs, but the file can get pretty large. You may want to archive the files as TIFF, then convert the images to JPG and then make those into a PDF, to keep the file size small enough to be easily portable.

There are a bunch of good, free PDF making programs, and there are many ePub making programs, too. ePubs are actually handy archives of HTML files that you can edit with a HTML editor or a basic Notepad program. As such, you can also get a Firefox extension to open your ePubs.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:07 PM on September 4, 2013

Don't use JPG for line drawings, text, or "graphics". They're best for color photos or full-color "art" (oils, watercolor, sculpture, puppets, whatever).

For pen-and-ink or pencil work, GIF is really great - it takes advantage of the limited color palette, compresses well, etc. I think PNG might be good also.

Why am I bothering you with these arcane image formats (GIF, PNG, JPG)? Because it sounds like you have something valuable there, and GIF won't get all blotchey/artifactey looking, which JPG will if you're not careful with it.

SO, if you scan all the pages to GIF, then you can embed them on web pages, in EPUB format (you'd have to read about how to do that), or in a PDF. Images first, then use the images to make a web site, e-book, or PDF.

Whether you want to make a web site, e-book, or PDF is up to you. I realize that's the heart of your question, but it's kind of a judgment call. You should be able to make one of these, then easily create the other two, if that's any consolation.
posted by amtho at 7:11 PM on September 4, 2013

Thank you all for your answers, I am trying out all your suggestions at the moment.

I can output the scanned pages as TIFF's or PNG's and upload to my Blogger pages, or another option is to use use Google Drive. For Ebooks I am trying Scribd.
All your answers are valid, I am marking amtho's as best.

Your comments are still welcomed!
posted by lungtaworld at 3:29 AM on September 5, 2013

If you can scan to TIFF, that's going to be high-quality and very large -- not good for the web, but good for posterity and for looking at from a file on disk. PNG will likely give you smaller files (if the settings are right - look for a "grayscale" option if the book is black and white), and is better for the web generally.

If it were me, I'd scann everything as 400 or 600 dpi TIFF, then convert everything to smaller PNG files (maybe 150 dpi or so, and with a reduced color palette, possibly with slightly increased contrast) using a batch command in Photoshop.
posted by amtho at 12:56 PM on September 5, 2013

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