I think Ian, Jack, and Lisa, and all the others, have come up with a great idea. A Fedora
coffee table book would be a great visual aide as well as a great keepsake for the Fedora
community. Pictures from all over the world would demonstrate the diversity of the Fedora
community, like nothing else.
I am a book packager and author. I have put together several books, both my own and for
others, and I think I have a fair understanding of what might entail with putting together
a coffee table book. So let me chime in as follows.
First the downside:
1. Coffee table books, or any picture book, are the most expensive books to create and
publish, going. The "4-color" offset process means four plates for every image
2. Ordinary snapshots, taken at an event or FUDCON, would be totally unsuitable for such a
book. Mainly because of quality, but also because of content. Web graphics, as many of you
know, look fine at 72 DPI (dots per inch), which is the standard setting in the GIMP for
web graphics. But picture book quality graphics, especially large visual images, start at
600 DPI. Many publishers now want 1200 DPI: and up.
3. Most high quality pictures (above 600 DPI) are staged. Meaning they are models (or
ordinary people) being absolutely still. Any movement appears as a blur.
4. The above means the pictures must be shot with a high quality camera. Cameras that will
overcome movement are expensive.
5. Such books usually use high quality and thus, more expensive paper suitable for photo
images (and water-proof), adding to the end price of the book.
6. Binding for such a book, is usually stitched. Perfect Bound, clumps of folded pages
glued together, the most inexpensive binding going, would need a larger amount of pages,
usually above 130 before they will hold together.
7. Taking all of this into account, the cost-driven price of such a book would probably be
in the $25.00 dollar range and up, even as a paperback. Assuming there was a need to
generate a profit from the book.
8. Coffee table books are usually larger, 11 x 16, or something. The size will determine
the photographs used and will establish a quality goal for them. A 6 x 8 photo may look
good at that size, but scale it up to say 12 x 16 and it may be unsuitable. An old rule of
thumb is to scan photos instead of scaling them. Scaling is one-dimensional; scanning
allows you options.
The plus side:
Now, having said all that, I still think it would be doable. The main downside would be
getting the high quality photographs we would need.
That would mean we would have to be selective in the photo-images we used. We could
possibly use images from a FUDCON, but not all images. Maybe some could be cropped and be
suitable, others could be dithered with, others still might pass right from the start. But
we would probably need hundreds of photographs to get the few necessary.
That means that having hundreds of people sending in stacks of photos, is probably not
going to work. A photo has to be chosen according to its print quality and not just
"cool" content. As much as we would all like to have a copy of that photo
showing Paul Fields shoving Bill Gates off a cliff, if it does not print well it would not
make the book.
However, there is a reliable test everyone can do to weed out the unsuitable pictures
before they get submitted, meaning that whoever is selecting the photos for a book, would
not be as swamped. This is a simple test that many printers use to determine photo quality
for printed material. Take the photo, run it through a scanner, one that you can set the
resolution and DPI values to at least 600 DPI. And you can play with these values
somewhat. High quality scanners often allow you to dither with the photo. Now, don't
look at the image on your computer screen, print it out and see what you get. Even a cheap
ink jet printer (or better) will give you an idea of what the results will be.
The actual packaging of the book is nothing. I or someone else could do that for nothing.
There have been several books packaged using Scribus, an
up-stream open source package that was not part of F10, but easily added.
So, having said all that, please understand that I am not claiming to be the "be all
and end all" of publishing or book packaging. In fact, I am probably somewhat behind
the times and if anybody has a better idea or way, lets hear it. But I know enough to know
that creating a quality book product depends on the quality of the material that makes up
the book and not just the publishing or printing aspect.
I have not even mentioned publishers, or printers. Today they are really just middlemen;
publishers are quickly becoming book marketers and not book creators. They are still
necessary, but are slowly becoming obsolete as the industry reels from innovation.
So, perhaps we could do this as a start. Maybe we could get a couple hundred photos, from
all over the planet and the Fedora community, and pass them around a committee. Everyone
chooses the ones they like and we toss the rest. Then we could put the selected ones
on-line and people could vote or something. For a 110 page book, with print quality
photographs on the base pages and text on the back pages, we would need probably 50 or 60
good photographs. Double that with photos on the back pages.
So, what do say you? Anyone want to take a shot at this?
-- w Douglas Berry --