Open source publishing


John Bartlett owns and operates Bartlett Publishing,
which puts out approximately four titles per year in programming,
business, and ... religion. Huh? Those don't go together, do
they? This is the strength of small publishing, to bring together the
disparate genres that make up a particular publisher's passion.

Bartlett is a true believer, in God and Linux. He chose open
source tools because he "believes in free information." He uses the
DocBook DTD,
running the manuscript through OpenJade with a heavily
customized version of Norman Walsh's
. "Using OpenJade and Norman Walsh's stylesheets to
typeset gives me a huge advantage in both costs to produce a book and
time to market. In particular, with DocBook, an index is amazingly
easy to produce," says Bartlett. Post-processing of the PDF is done
with Perl's Text::PDF module
and Adobe
for complex work. A professional graphic artist produces
the cover and Bartlett does post-processing with the GIMP. Finally he uploads the finished
materials to CafePress or LightningSource.

Bartlett's recommendation of the open source tools he uses is
unequivocating. "DocBook makes your book look professional with very
little effort. The combination of DocBook and a good cover artist
gives you very professional results with a minimum of time and money."

John Culleton of Able
Typesetters and Indexers
provides services for small- and
self-publishers with a completely Linux-based workflow using variants
of TeX. First, he keys in and
corrects the source text in Gvim.
Culleton compiles the text to PDF with ConTeXt or pdfTeX and views
the output in Xpdf. He
also uses various other bits and pieces: grep; the Ghostscript ps2ascii

translator; pfaedit (FontForge); PSUtils
for brochures, makeindex
for indices, and some custom macros and scripts. He does image
processing in the GIMP and has recently begun using Scribus for book covers because it
can handle ICC profiles and
produce CMYK output.

Culleton makes two points about the strengths of open source
software. First, "All of these tools are supported by active email
lists. I don't have to call an underpaid clerk.... I
get superior support from users and maintainers of the software." (Ask
any XPress user about Quark's customer support. It's infamous.)
Second, when Donald Knuth backed away from TeX, others picked up the
torch. Development continued and TeX is still going strong.
Meanwhile, in the proprietary world, PageMaker is dying a slow and
painful death and is no longer the behemoth of book production;
FrameMaker has been losing ground as well. Adobe now pushes InDesign.
QuarkXpress went years between updates on the Mac, still
the dominant desktop publishing platform. With proprietary software,
Culleton says, "[You] face the potential discontinuance of the
product, just like users of the once excellent WordPerfect have found
their own purgatory -- the Curse of Corel."

Posted by klsh