It wasn’t too long ago that I created a physical book to chronicle my photography since my month-long trip out west in the autumn of 2014. Although my photography has included other types during this period, I limited it to just the landscape work to give the book more continuity instead of an incoherent rambling of differing imagery. A bit of the background to creating that book was the subject of a recent post on The New Photo Albums. However, I may have been mistaken in my assessment in that the New Photo Albums may be better as digital books instead of physical books, although there is nothing like thumbing through the pages of a large coffee table book. And it is pretty neat to see one of your panoramas stretching across the almost 28-inches of a two-page spread!
It was from creating that book that generated the spark to look into the idea of creating an ebook, and after researching it a bit, found that producing one may not be all that different from going through the process used in making a physical book. Using the book module contained within Lightroom, I dove headlong into attempting this monstrous undertaking that went on for about 335 pages. I found that it was fairly easy to use, continually learning how to get around some of its limitations and ended up with something similar to the physical book I had finished on Black Friday of last year. When it was finally “done”, all I needed to do was click the Export Book to PDF button on the bottom of the right side panel and after a while, a PDF was created that was the intermediary step in the quest for a final ebook. Then I came up against several roadblocks that required quite a bit of alteration to what I had taken so long to get through.
The first and major obstacle was the size of the PDF; at 335 pages it topped out at about 2.75 GB!! I quickly learned that a limit of 2GB was imposed on any upload of a PDF file to be converted into an ebook. I finally came to the conclusion that I either had to reduce the size of the book by about 100 pages, give up on the idea completely, or divide it into two volumes. I decided on the two-volume option, meaning that the entire thing had to be rearranged with volume one being more of a history of personal photographic development, with most of the text containing many of the things I’ve learned over the course of these many years including thoughts, preferences and procedures both in the digital darkroom and out in the field. Volume two’s main focus is on the trips I’ve taken since I changed to digital a few years back, but still strictly around the landscape, and it also includes some photographic information as well. Both volumes also contain several images that were taken in the dark ages of film.
After painstakingly rearranging all the pages, the thoughts contained within them and the look of the pages themselves, I successfully uploaded the PDF to Blurb!! All the hoorays lasted only a minute until I discovered through the dreaded error messages, that only a handful of fonts were supported in ebooks and of course, the fonts I chose were not among them!! Worse yet was that other fonts were automatically substituted for the ones I chose, meaning that every page had to be reformatted because they did not now fit into the text boxes. So many of them had to be rewritten either to fit into those text boxes, or needed to be expanded so there would not be a few lines of text overflowing onto a following page, which would have not been very appealing from a graphic design standpoint. In all, every single letter in the entire book had to be looked at and changed in some way. Every page reference (and there were many) had to be corrected as well.
At that point, I felt everything was about done, but when I looked at the PDF’s from the publisher’s site, the graphics that were added to a few pages were black boxes instead of the chosen graphics! In addition, all of the two-page spreads of panoramic photos did not appear together in a two page spread, but were divided in part with a previous or following page!! A week of back and forth with the publisher ensued until it was finally realized that in the ebook itself, those graphics would appear, and the two-page panoramas formatted correctly.
So finally it was done, converted to an ebook, and I was able to download it onto my ipad for viewing. Of course I found countless errors, from misspellings and incorrectly formatted pages, to completely missing paragraphs. So I had to go in and correct each one, at times having to retype every word of a page in order that it appeared formatted correctly when every attempt beforehand to correct it, was unsuccessful.
But now, it can be said that the birth has been successful, but not without a lengthy period of intense labor, and it can be previewed by clicking here and then clicking on the “bookstore preview”. With volume one under my belt, let’s hope volume two goes a little easier.