Friday, 6 April 2012

Creating an E-Book

In 1990 my wife and I went on Safari in Tanzania and Kenya. In order to record the event I kept a journal to describe what we'd seen and what we'd experienced. I say kept, to be honest I'm not sure how I completed the journal; it may have been by keeping notes or it may have been from memory. Anyway the journal was completed shortly after our return by sticking in a few of the photographs which we hadn't used elsewhere and has sat on my bookshelf for the last twenty years gathering dust. Earlier this year I set myself the task of creating an E-Book from the Journal.

Kenyan Sunrise

This is a description of how I went about it.

My initial task was to find a suitable version of desktop publishing software which I could use for the job. I was quickly told that if I wanted to share the book with others then the best medium was going to be pdf as the chances were that the people I shared the book with wouldn't have suitable software to view the book if coded using a specific software package.

After a small amount of research and experimentation I decided on Serif PagePlus X6 as the desktop publishing software to create the basic book and undertake the pdf conversion, and the ISSUU web site to host the book in page turning format on the web.

The words in the journal were typed into Word and cut and pasted into Serif. I ensured that the words on each page exactly matched the words per page in the journal. I started off thinking I would make the pictures match the journal exactly as well but decided against this largely because I had such a wonderful choice of images to pick from but also because with the original the book required turning to view the images and this didn't feel right for an E-Book.

I started by scanning the photographs but ended up scanning the negatives. I believe scanning the negatives has given me a set of crisper pictures but the negative scans do require careful examination and editing to remove the inevitable pieces of dust that seem to become attached to them. I even invested in a couple of cans of "air duster" and an antistatic cloth but to be honest in most cases I had to resort to PSE to remove the specs.

Safari Cheetah

The Serif Software stood up well to the task and handled the 130MB file with ease. I can't say the same for ISSUU which didn't seem to be up to managing my file. As a result I've switched to YUDU which has handled the file brilliantly and has an equally good page turning appearance. Interestingly enough there were a lot of disgruntled comments about ISSUU on the associated Help Pages so it does seem to be having trouble handling pdfs at the present. I'm waiting to hear back from ISSUU to see if they can fix the problem.

It has taken about three months to complete the project and I'm really pleased with the results. As I've indicated the hardest job was cleaning up the pictures so there have been many bleary eyed late nights with PSE on high zoom. I hope you enjoy the results as much as I have.

     Link to Journal on Yudu

I've already spotted a couple of mistakes so it will need revision one day. If you see any spelling mistakes please drop me a line.