Evolution Of A Book, Part 6

By | Sunday, November 29, 2009 4 comments
I had the great delight to find a box sitting on my front porch when I returned home this evening, after having spent the holiday weekend with my parents. It was, in fact, my first look at the actual, for-real printed copies of my book. (Comic Book Fanthropology if you haven't been paying attention around here.)

After my initial SQUEEEE!!!! reaction, I actually took a more critical look at the books themselves. This was, in point of fact, the first time I'd ever seen Lulu-printed books in person and I was curious to look at the printed quality.

The covers look great. I was a little concerned about the color shifting one way or another, but it seems to have hit spot-on. I uploaded the cover as a whole to Lulu as one image, and the printing did seem to a scooch to one side, but it's only noticeable in that the title on the spine is 100% centered. It's still well within legibility tolerances, though, and it's only worth noting because I'm a nit-picky designer that way.

The interior looks good as well. Good quality paper, solid binding, very clean trim around the edges. I'm very pleased with all of that. I'm also pleasantly happy with the overall dimensions, too. I was a little concerned that it would feel too light, like you might be holding more of a thick pamphlet. But that's not the case at all. Although it is a bit thinner than other books I made some initial comparisons to, it's hardly noticeable on a quick visual inspection. It looks and feels like a real, bookshelf-worthy book.

The printing itself has some very rich blacks, which make the text and illustrations really pop off the page. The art that has some decent-sized blocks of black look especially good. All of the half-tones work very well, too. I was a little concerned about moiré patterns showing up on some of the pieces, but it only occurs on one and then, only slightly.

The rich blacks do mean, however, the photos tend to run a bit darker than I'd like. Not so dark that you can't see them or anything, but it does obscure some of the background details a little more than I'd like in some photos. On the plus side, there was one photo that I was concerned would be too hard to read well, but the rich blacks make the salient portions of the image quite legible.

The cropping of individual pages varies a bit more than I would've expected. Nothing so drastic as to be of significant concern, but -- again, speaking as a nit-picky designer -- it's not quite as consistent as I would ideally like to see.

As far as issues I had more direct control over, I'm generally pleased overall. I was glad to see my graphic designer "tricks" in the layout worked the way I'd intended, most notably the Fan Profile pages. In looking at the final, printed version, I probably could've stood to add a little more space on all the page margins. But, here again, that's more of a nit-picky designery thing -- there's nothing that's not legible because I ran type too close to the spine or whatever.

Overall, I have to say that I am VERY pleased with how the book looks. I think it turned out exceptionally well, given that it's my first book and my first interaction with Lulu. I will freely admit to more than a bit of trepidation before now on whether I had made any number of "right" choices with this book; those concerns are all gone now. (With the exception of the content itself!) I would absolutely recommend Lulu to anyone hoping to get a book published, provided they weren't trying to get rich doing so!

Feel free to head over to ComicBookFanthropology.com to pick up a copy for yourself!
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David Beard said...

Fascinating read so far.


The first "hobbies" were in fact real horses, according to the OED. They were smaller breeds, to be sure, associated with the outlying parts of the United Kingdom (so maybe there was some nationalism at play there; I do not know). But, fyi:
1. A small or middle-sized horse; an ambling or pacing horse; a pony. Now Hist., arch., or dial.
In early times hobbies are chiefly referred to as of Irish breed; in later times, also, as Welsh or Scotch.
1375 BARBOUR Bruce xiv. 68 Hobynis, that war stekit thar, Rerit and flang..And kest thame that apon thame raid. c1400 Rel. Ant. II. 23 An Iyrysch man, Uppone his hoby. 1547 BOORDE Introd. Knowl. iii. (1870) 131, I am an Iryshe man..I can kepe a Hobby. 1602 2nd Pt. Return fr. Parnass. II. iii. 647, I will..buy an ambling hobby for my fayre. Ibid. v. 775 Hath the groome saddled my hunting hobby? 1611 COTGR., Hobin, a Hobbie; a little ambling (and shorne-maned) horse. 1652-62 HEYLIN Cosmogr. I. (1682) 220 Hobbies..afterwards became a common name for all Nags or Geldings. 1688 Lond. Gaz. No. 2340/4 Stolen..a black Welsh Hobby, near 13 hand. a1700 B. E. Dict. Cant. Crew, Scotch-hobby, a little sorry, scrubbed, low Horse of that Country. c1730 BURT Lett. N. Scotl. (1760) II. xvi. 30 The little Highland Hobbies, when they find themselves bogged, will lie still. 1732 Gentlem. Guide to Cattle (ed. 2) 265 A Turk for the Sire, a Scotch Powny, or the Irish Hobby, for Dam. 1804 Chron. in Ann. Reg. 502/2 Sir William Kemp Bart...was riding on a hobby from which he fell and expired on the spot. 1852 C. M. YONGE Cameos (1877) II. xviii. 193 The chiefs and cavalry, both Irish and Anglo-Irish, had small light horses called hobbies.

Only later would "hobby horse" become a more common phrase than the actual, original hobby usage.

{dag}2. = HOBBY-HORSE n. 2. Obs. or Hist.
1760 TOLLETT in Shaks. Plays (1813) XI. 439 Our Hobby is a spirited horse of pasteboard, in which the master dances and displays tricks of legerdemain. 1820 SCOTT Abbot xv, Prance, hobby{em}hiss, dragon, and halloo boys!

This doesn't do much to alter your argument -- except that it mat extend the depth to which a hobby has always been demeaned, multidimensionally.

That's probably not worth fixing, but...

You call this an "entomological" question, but there's nary a bug in sight. You mean "etymological," right?

If Lulu fixes are cheap, you might fix that one.

Good read so far.

Thanks for the further lesson on hobby horses and noting the word error. (I could swear I had double checked that!) It's cumbersome enough to update the book that I won't try to correct each and every error that comes up as it comes up, but I've corrected the online version and the original source doc. The fix will be in place for the second edition, which I'll release whenever I find "enough" errors that need fixing.

Glad you're enjoying it so far!

Matt K said...

Well, it looks good. My copy has kind of a faint stripe around the top of the cover. Things do look good and crisp, and the black ink is definitely not a halfway black.

Curious about the comic scans, etc., as they seem a bit pixellated. And yes, the margins would ideally be more generous, but all in all this is quite sound production.

I see that my name is in the index of a real book. My fifteen minutes are here! ;-)

You scared me! For a second, I thought you said Comic Sans! :)

That is one limitation of Lulu currently: they have a maximum interior resolution of 300 dpi. (Covers are still 600, though.) With, I believe, one exception (that Star Blazers piece in the Foreword), my images are all scanned and uploaded at a minimum of 600 dpi. So if/when they're able to improve that on Lulu's end, the end product should start looking even better.

And hey, you're not only indexed but you've got a whole page devoted to you exclusively! Fortunately for you, I opted against using the photo of you dressed up as Starman! ;)