In the mail this afternoon, I got the first proof of the book of light verse I had been working on. It looks great so far. I need to make several adjustments. The resolution of illustrations is too low, because I reduced the file size to try and save space. However, CreateSpace (the service I’m using to publish and distribute the book) allows 40mb for uploading the book contents so I have plenty of space after all. Also, as you can see from the front cover, the illustration bleeds into the book title and the the guy on the far left at the back seems to have had half his fingers amputated. These I can easily fix using Photoshop.
If anyone is interested, after trying out various methods, including using a graphics tablet and several painting and drawing applications, in the end I decided to do the illustrations using a rather unassuming fountain pen on cartridge paper. I found it gave me the best line quality. I then scanned each illustration and converted to jpeg using mostly 50% compression (which is where quality suffered).
I have to say, it is a great feeling holding your own book in your hands, even if it’s only a proof. This is the sort of thing that publishing ebooks can’t even come close to. Ebooks are very good – or at least moderately good – at publishing text-only books, like novels. What ebooks can’t do is publish books where the page format is important, like illustrated books (eg. mine) and many non-fiction books. A lot of people are predicting the demise of traditional publishing because more and more people are buying ebook readers like Kindles. Given that the vast majority of books are non-fiction, and that a huge number of them have illustrations, charts, diagrams and other fancy format-dependent content, I don’t see traditional publishing being under any serious threat until ebooks get a lot more sophisticated in the kind of content they can display. Of course, no matter what kind of content ebook readers can display, there are some people who simply can’t give up the sensory pleasure of holding a physical book in their hands.
I’d be interested if anyone has any ideas about where they see publishing going in the future. Am I the only one who is slightly skeptical about the alleged takeover of publishing by ebooks?