Wednesday, October 17, 2007

DIY Booklet

For some reason, the professor of my Creative Writing and Short Story classes chose me to compile our combined submissions for this semester into a book. It was additional work that I could have done without, but at the same time, it proved to be a pleasant enough diversion, so I took it.

And today, I got the finished product out.

Okay, so it was more of a booklet than a book, but at close to 120 pages, it's still a formidable booklet. It was fun figuring out ways in which to get it to print right.

For simplicity, I laid out the whole book in AbiWord. Not nearly as full-featured as OpenOffice.org or Scribus, but for what I needed, it was the easiest way to get things done.

From AbiWord, I printed out to PDF.

I then processed the PDF file using a nice utility called page-crunch. page-crunch is actually the front end to psutils, a set of command line tools for PostScript processing.

page-crunch is nifty because it allows you to regenerate a PDF document two pages to a sheet. However, it's not perfect. It has a "Produce a Book" option but it only rearranges the sheets so they come out as leaflets.

Since I wanted a center-stapled book, I had to enter the order in which I wanted the pages printed. Sounds difficult for a 120-page book? It is! That's why I wrote a Python script to generate the correct page ordering for me.

So anyway, I printed all the pages back to back and they came out okay. Next were the table of contents and the cover, then off to our friendly neighborhood printer to get it center-stapled and cut.

Voila! I'm a publisher now!