Tag Archives: Cascading Style Sheets

POD Books on a Digital Press

Freedom of the press has taken on a whole new perspective. Control is finally in the hands of the author. Gone are the expensive and time-consuming middle steps that used to limit the production of printed material. In its place are user-friendly tools to communicate with state-of-the-art technology designed to print on demand.

Digital presses evolved from electrostatic copiers. The technology does not require plates in the traditional sense. Instead, the image is transmitted to the imaging cylinder electronically. Each revolution builds a new image. This makes it possible to print consecutive pages in order as they come off the press. Not only do they print consecutively, but the run can also be configured to print both sides of the sheet. This is how digital books are printed.

Electronic printing is not in its infancy. It has evolved from the smeared and often dirty-looking black and white copies to the sophisticated full color quality printing we see today. Mainstream software to communicate with these new printing machines is available universally. The interface is intuitive, making the preparation of materials easy and quite flexible.

In most cases, an author can submit a complete book, consisting of consecutive pages formatted to the desired page size. The digital press operator can drop the file into standard templates that will arrange the pages on the press sheet according to the chosen binding method. Documents can be created in most word-processing programs such as MS Word, or any program that will yield a PDF, a standard of the industry. After uploading your file, many online facilities provide simple tools to help you finalize the look of your project. You can even request a single proof copy before committing to any quantity.

Many printers who use Print-on-Demand technology have finishing services, such as binding, laminating and stamping. Printers who specialize in books have auto-binders that run inline with the press. The cost of digital printing is very competitive, so it is wise to shop around and compare services. Don’t forget to figure in the cost of shipping.

I purchase the printed sheets off the digital press and bind my own books. Over the years I have written and produced several books made in this way and have found the process to be efficient and economical. I can make as few or as many as I need at a time, even produce different versions in the same press run. I can add color pages at any position, photos, charts, diagrams and anything that I can get to work in my page layouts.

I will post some information about binding your own work in the near future. It is fun and very rewarding.

Soon,

Michael Faris

About Time Publishing

Are Traditional Books Dead?

Nothing like a good old-fashioned paperback book. One you can wrap the pages around as you read them, make a mark in the margins, dog-ear the corners and make it your own. It fits in a raincoat pocket so you can pull it out on the bus ride home, or while standing in line at Starbucks. These old relics live on the dashboard of your car, on the back of the commode, or in your lunchbox. They are cheap enough and durable enough to last through several reads by a number of folks as they are handed from one to another.

Hardback books are wonderful in their own way. These are the musty dinosaurs of yesterday, nestled on Grandma’s shelves in her library and kitchen. These books hold the ideas and accomplishments of days past, all worthy of recording on print, forever enshrined between  hard covers of cloth and leather. Most of the really great books are printed on archival-quality fine acid-free paper and stitched into traditional signatures. Coffee table books have long adorned living rooms with renditions of art and photography published in limited editions.

Books and magazines have always been an important part of our lives from the time we sat on our mother’s lap to read a good fairy tale until the time we graduated from college. Textbooks, manuals, dictionaries, encyclopedias, guidebooks, trade journals, hobbies, sports and news publications. The list goes on and on.

Why do these books exist? Why have we thought them important enough to produce and preserve them for the last few centuries? My opinion is that we felt the knowledge was something we needed to preserve in order for others to benefit. Knowledge always has worth and anything with value quickly becomes a commodity.

Commodities become the basis for entire industries, whether the goods are truly needed or not. Sometime it is a mere fad that drives an industry, such as furs or feathers. Other times it is basic needs like food, medicine or tools. But no matter the spark that creates the demand, once it has gained a foothold a commodity becomes entrenched in our way of life. Old habits are slow to die, even when there are good reasons to change. So it is with the information industry.

For the last twenty years or so, nearly every child in America has grown up with a mouse in their hand and an inherent knowledge of how to navigate and use computers. They can’t remember a world without the web. They get their timely information online. Most hardly ever pick up a newspaper. Their books are electronic. Their information is up to the minute and cross-referenced to several sources. They are plugged into a world that didn’t even exist only a few years ago.

So what does that mean to the future of traditional printed books? It means that they will eventually go the way of the horse and buggy. There is a better way to store and view data than ever before. Printed books are expensive to produce and impossible to edit without printing a revised edition. They are not searchable, the information cannot be easily copied and reformatted and they cannot be instantly transmitted to a point around the world. They require shelf space and need to be dusted. They wear out from use. You need to hold the book in your hands to get access to the information… and how many books can you carry with you at a time?

The child of today and tomorrow will only see books as a curiosity, an impractical novelty with little use other than an example of how it used to be. He will prefer to get his information online, and will have access to more knowledge than his parents ever dreamed of. This overwhelming sea of knowledge lays the foundation for a whole different set of challenges that I will try to address in my next Blog.

I would like to hear some other ideas on the subject.

Until next time,

Michael Faris

About Time Publishing

From MSWord to PDF

Most authors initially create their work in a word-processing program. Word processors are specifically designed to handle large quantities of text. MSWord has a number of features that also allow writers to control the final appearance of their work. These formatting tools can be used to generate print-ready PDFs that can be sent directly to a digital press. Using these tools is not difficult, but it can be tricky. Much depends on the way you set up your document and your work habits.

The best way to become familiar with formatting tools is to try and use them. Learn to develop work habits that help you to streamline your efforts and reduce the chore of formatting to a simple click of the mouse.

Master pages are used to store information about margins and placement of headers, footers and page numbers. Separate masters for the title page,table of contents, front matter, text pages and any special layouts (dedications, certificates, photos) are set up as needed. You can store many page masters in a single document. Separate documents are needed for different page sizes. I recommend saving each new set-up to be used as a template for future projects. Give each template a descriptive name for easy reference. Copy and rename the file as you begin each new project. I always copy my master templates to CD so they cannot be altered.

Stylesheets are probably the most helpful formatting tools.Taking the time to learn how to use them will give you a big boost when it comes to laying out book pages. Attributes can be assigned to control font appearance, size, tracking, leading, space between paragraphs and more. Once a style has been created, it can be applied to select words and paragraphs up to and including the entire document in a split second. You can build different versions of styles using alternate fonts, etc. and save them to a master collection for instant formatting of new work. Stylesheets can be copied from one document to another.

Building a good library of master templates and stylesheets is a good way to reduce the effort required to begin a new project. Don’t forget to test your template by printing a few pages. The results can be immediately judged and corrective measures taken to improve the outcome. Once you have the right answers, toss all the experimental files and save the good one to your master library. This practice will help you to become more consistent and organized. Your presentations can take on a more sophisticated look with less effort.

I will be covering more specifics about preparing files for digital printing in future posts.

Michael Faris

About Time Publishing.com

About Time Publishing

It’s about time. I have been a fiction and technical writer for better than 25 years, a book binder for the last ten, and now I am endeavoring to be a publisher. All of these efforts are self-expression entities fueled by an intense love for DIY.

Doing it yourself has so many wonderful aspects to it. Of course, the biggest two reasons for DIY is a possible cost savings and an intimate understanding of the dynamics of the project, not to mention reaping the rewards of good honest effort.

For instance, if you decide to paint your house, you need to consider all the factors involved from equipment and supplies to labor. Do you have the time? Are you physically able? How about confidence? Are you a good planner? How much can you save? All these things weigh in to making a decision about tackling the job yourself.

DIY’ers don’t just suddenly happen. They are grown. Tinkerers and cobblers from infancy, they pick up tools and try to use them. They take broken things apart to see how they work. They research and study to find practical ways of solving problems.

I have tried to uncover the hows and whys of book publishing in a quest to be able to market my own work. I have looked for ways to cut costs and streamline the process in order to cut out unnecessary and time-consuming factors.

In conducting this research, one thing is painfully clear. Authors have long had to share revenues with publishers. Everyone along the chain of production has their hand in the writer’s pocket. Anything he creates and sells through that distribution chain must be sold at a price high enough to satisfy all of the commissions.

DIY logic brings up several questions: How much of this publishing stuff can the author do? Are there any advantages? Can the middlemen be cut out of the process in order to put profits in the author’s pockets?

I will be posting some of the answers to these and other questions pertaining to DIY publishing here as I attempt to demystify the process. My new website will be going up soon, with links and articles that will help authors to overcome some of the hurdles involved with producing and promoting their own work.

Until next time,

Michael A. Faris

About Time Publishing

About Time Publishing – a fresh perspective

What does it mean to publish your work?

Wikipedia defines publishing as the process of production and dissemination of literature or information— the activity of making information available to the general public.

Making your work available is one thing, making people want to buy it is a completely different prospect altogether.

Marketing can be defined as the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.

Still just a lot of words. I think I can sum it up in fewer: For authors, making their work available is secondary to the main objective of building a demand for it.

This blog will explore some of the methods and tools available to writers who want to market their work. the main focus is on DIY methods that will speed and economize the publishing process to make it possible for content creators to be able to profit from their efforts.

I hope to build a network of resources that will appeal to authors at all levels. I believe that thorough understanding of the dynamics of the publishing process is paramount to success. I also believe that the more involved you become in promoting your own work, the more comfortable you become with the marketing aspect.

Authors who just want to write will do just that. Write and no more. Authors who want to make a success of their work will need to treat it like a business. They will have to nurture and analyze every aspect of each literary project in order to make it a viable income stream.

Look for more tips and tools to be mentioned here about P.O.D. Books, ebooks, audio books and more. Also take the time to visit my website: http://www.aboutimepublishing.com

Michael Faris