Thursday, April 24, 2008

Don't we all love surprises? This one is a good one, no make that a great one. I was contacted by a gentleman who wanted to surprise his daughter by publishing a book she copyrighted in 2002, but never managed to get published. Dads are great aren't they?

My client had done his homework before he even approached us. He had all the copyright information, he had already obtained the original manuscript and converted it to an electronic document and he had contacted an illustrator to create the illustrations. All this done before he even contacted us to do the layout and design!

The important thing to remember when creating a book that requires illustrations is the time frame. Illustrations take much longer to create than photography or graphic images. Sometimes it can take months depending upon the number of illustrations you require. This book used 13 illustrations and I believe he waited about 4 months for that end of this project. If you have a specific time line, you will need to take this into consideration. It's also recommended to have the book designer work with the illustrator so you are sure to get the images sized properly for your book.

I plan to write an article shortly on "Working with Illustrators for your next book". Until then, I'm just going to take time out to appreciate the release of a new book by Picturia Press. Click here to view the book.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

This is a follow up to my recent post "Understanding ISBN numbers and UPC Codes". I felt I needed to add a few more bits of information about getting the ISBN Numbers and UPC Codes and their costs.

Bowker is the U.S. broker of ISBN numbers. This is the place to go to get your number. Usually, Bowker sells numbers in blocks of 10, for approximately $250, or a cost of $25 per book. This price also includes the UPC Code (Bar Code) which you will also need. If you don't wish to purchase ISBN's in blocks of 10, you can purchase a single ISBN. However, it's not as easy, and not as cost effective. You have to call Bowker directly at 877-310-7333 and request a faxed application for $125.00. I haven't yet been able to find the form downloadable from their site. Additionally, this cost is for the ISBN number only and you have to purchase the bar codes separately for a cost of $25.00.

You don't have to purchase the bar code from Bowker though, there are other options available. If you want to do it yourself, there is a whole list of ISBN software available online for generating your own codes, or you can try companies such as Bar Code Graphics that will create the bar code image for you for about $10.

On a final note, you may also want to consider registering your book with Bowker's directory "Books in Print". This is their master list of all books available. Oddly enough, when you buy your ISBN number from Bowker, you aren't automatically registered into the master list.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

I had the pleasure and fun of recently completing a book for an associate of mine. Fun because it was a book about two of her best friends, her dog and cat. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a big animal lover, so this book was something I was looking forward to working on. It’s going to be a gift to her mother for Mother’s Day.

What made this more interesting is having the opportunity to work with and play with typography. Something I enjoy just as much as graphic design and they go well together. As you can see, using typography in some of these pages can make a simple image come alive. It can add sentiment that the image alone might not convey. Treatments like these are emotive and add to the quality of the overall presentation.

When designing a book, consider working with and trying out different fonts, different sizes, and different colors. Images tell a story, but so can typography. The images above were not taken by a professional photographer, but as you can see, they didn’t need to be. We converted the image to black and white and then added the appropriate text to convey personality.

Bear in mind that when you hire a designer, there are additional costs and time to create these types of pages for your book. But, as with everything, they are well worth the cost when you see the end results.

Click here to view the book

Thursday, April 17, 2008

You know you are doing something worthwhile when the NY Times decides to write an article about it. I've been an advocate for self-publishing for over two years now and as the demand and the desire grows, so does the market. That means publicity and that's good for business.

Peter Wayner just wrote an article for the New York Times, "Turn Those Bytes into Books" about the blossoming market for self-published books. Picturia Press was interviewed for the article a month ago and only recently was contacted asking if I could have my picture taken for the article. Unfortunately, I was out of town during the time this was going to print, but we're all proud to have the article in print anyway.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

We have a lot of customers inquiring about if they need an ISBN number and Bar Code for their books. The answer to that depends upon your needs. Let’s start with the ISBN Number. You are not legally required to have an ISBN number. It simply depends upon if and how you are going to sell your book. So if you are selling your book through workshops, direct mail or through the Internet, you most likely will NOT need an ISBN number or Bar Code.

If you plan to sell your books through retail chains, and specialty stores and catalogues, (Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc.) you will most likely be required by the reseller to obtain an ISBN number for your book for inventory and general ordering purposes.

An ISBN number identifies a book title or edition from one specific publisher and is unique to that edition, meaning that it can never be reused. This also means that if you sell both a hard copy and a soft cover of your book, you must have two unique ISBN numbers.

The ISBN itself is a 10-digit number that is divided into four parts separated by hyphens. The first part of the ISBN is a group or country identifier. The second part is a publisher identifier. The third part is a title identifier. The last digit is a check digit used to validate the ISBN. In other words, the ISBN is a code that identifies your book around the world. You can apply for an ISBN number by contacting Bowker, who is the U.S. broker for ISBN numbers.

Now for the Universal Product Code (UPC), also known as the Bar Code. This is a computerized product identification system. The ISBN is not the same thing as your Bar Code. Most retail chains require both a ISBN Number and Bar Code. However, the ISBN Number can be translated into bar code format. When you purchase your ISBN number through Bowker, you can also purchase the Bar Code, or you can find a list of UPC Code (or Bar Code) suppliers here.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A common issue we frequently handle with photographs we receive is the dreaded "red eye". It's unavoidable, one out of three pictures a client gives us inevitably has one person or more in the picture with red eye. Most professional photographers know how to avoid it, and at the very least, know how to correct it in post production image editing. The point here is how much money you can save in book production/image editing costs if your designer doesn't have to do this work for you. But let's face it, not everyone has the know-how to fix their photographs.

News comes down today in the New York Times that now anyone can go online, upload their photos and fix red eye easily. It is has been a long time coming, but it's finally here. Online photo editing in the form of Adobe Photoshop Express. Of course, it's in beta right now, so I'm sure there are some glitches to be smoothed out. But generally, the service offers storage of your images, easy editing for removal of red eye and other options that range from the useful (cropping, exposure, etc) to the slightly tacky and quite unnecessary graffiti. Personal choices for everyone I'm sure. Even more useful is the "UNDO" feature for those of us who might get carried away.....

Save the difficult image editing and effects to the pros, but red-eye? Adobe just made that easier for you.

Monday, April 7, 2008

One of the challenges a designer faces is that sometimes (well, more than sometimes....) we have less than perfect images to work with for creating the client's book. That's where image editing can take a good picture and turn it into a great picture. And honestly, from a designer's standpoint; the better the image, the better the book.

Often all that an image requires is a little retouching. That can be something as simple as the removal of red eye or perhaps turning a color photograph into a black and white image to provide a more visual impact. Then there are the bigger challenges like removing background "noise" (i.e.: items or individuals) from a photograph.

This is an example of a picture the client had of her parents at her wedding. Of course this was a photograph that had to go into the book, but every time the client looked at the image, she saw those pesky uninvited people standing in the background. They would just have to go! Figure B reflects the image editing we did so that we could use this picture in our client's book.

Another example of making an image work is the one below. The client had a picture with her newborn baby. Again, this was a must have in the client's book. But as you can was too dark to use (see, or not see Figure A).

Fortunately, editing the image enabled us to brighten it enough to use the picture (see Figure B) and actually the end result made this one of her favorite pages in the book.

Unless you are blessed with being a professional photographer, you can assume that a percentage of images you provide us with will require some kind of image editing. The end result will be well worth the investment.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Have you gone outside today? Spring is definitely in the air and the cherry blossoms are out. Well, at least in Washington, D.C. they are. And that's a really big deal! They have a festival to commemorate the gift of 3,000 cherry trees given to Washington, D.C. in 1912 by Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo. It didn't stop there either, the US and Japan have been exchanging/gifting trees to each other for sometime now and in 1999 a new cutting from a Japanese tree, reputed to be over 1500 years old was gifted to Washington, D.C.

To commemorate the big festivities (two weeks worth of events!), is holding a photo contest to create a beautiful calendar for 2009. So all you photographers, get out there and shoot some cherry blossoms, then submit them to the contest.

When you are all cherry blossomed out, let us help you create a beautiful book with the rest of your festival photos!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Just finished another great book that was lots of fun to design. I know, I know...I say that about all the books. This one is going to be a one year anniversary present from a wife to her husband. I really had fun working with the client, as it appears from working with her, she must be as organized as I am. All the digital images and files were transferred to us separated in folders by sequence of events. Remember my post on how organizing images makes life easier for the designer? Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

It was a "Good Thing" (as Martha Stewart says...) that my client took the time to organize the files, as we were working on an extremely short deadline if she was going to be able to give it to her husband on their anniversary. My client was very creative with her ideas and open to suggestions from us on how to make it the best book it could be. I think we were both satisfied with the end results. I'd sure love to be there when he sees it.

Click here to view the book