Back on track, please . . .
After allowing myself to get sidetracked by Frank-made bears, and being a little too weary to focus thoughts last evening after work, let’s see if I can recapture the threads of my original musings and bring this little chronicle to a close.
An accident of Bears
It leads me to think about the tales of primitive peoples who believed that a photograph captured a piece of their soul within it.
What I seemed to need to do was to find the soul in any image and give it a form of life via a story, or poem. To make it a being, of sorts.
During my pre-work coffee and commune moments I had been aware of the Bakery Bears. There are quite a few of them, and they are prominently positioned to catch the attention.
What I came to notice over time was that they moved around. Different positions, different numbers, odd configurations. I realised soon enough that this was due the daily life of the Bakery – setting up for customers, sales of Bears, dusting and cleaning spaces, and movement of the display trolley that was a central feature of the interior.
Simple, and logical explanation, but . . . It didn’t seem like that. It seemed as though the bears were moving around, repositioning themselves and generally doing things when no-one was watching.
That led me to taking pictures of them. Every day, a new tableau, every day a new image. Solos, in pairs, in groups, drunk on honey, having tea nad cake in the pie-warmer. Chatting with Olaf, the automated manikin in the front window who was forever rolling pastry flat with his rolling pin.
Every picture tells . . .
Eventually I started interacting with my image, finding their souls and writing them down in little conversations or observations.
At that time, I had no ambition for my project beyond perhaps using each as a filler for the blog here, as I’ve done with other image groups. When I showed my wife, Leanne, however, she was quite taken with them and undertook to format them up and commissioned a one-off book-format set from a company that specialises in do-it-yourself calendars and keepsakes with pictures and so on.
Naturally, I wanted to create a Print-On-Demand version right away.
Costly mistakes made by urgent amateurs
It was evident even at this early stage that I had made some critical errors. Errors that repeated (sadly) with other projects of that time.
I’ve said that I’m no great shakes with the camera and photography art, and the cardinal error that I made was to think I could do anything with the uploaded images, and all would be forgiven, if need be. I worked with images in Google photographs, primarily, which was lovely. Then I deleted the original pictures from my photo storage and from the universe. They were taking up all this storage space, you see . . .
When Leanne was working with the pictures for the first version, she noted that the pictures were of poor quality for print books. The images had been resized by Google photos and my manipulations to suit digital work, not paper printing. They pixellated or granulated or whatever the correct terminology might be, and my originals could no longer be retrieved.
I decided to push on regardless, with several objectives and reasons in mind:
- I couldn’t believe it was true. Simply refused to accept that I had made such a mess of what I’d come to feel was an important little project.
- I badly wanted to experience creating a picture book, and the possibility of producing both, a paperback and a hardcover version was tantalising.
- If I could not produce a physical book because of poor image quality, I could jolly well find out how to make a digital picture book. (Famous last words).
And I did.
Print versions – not available
After a huge amount of trial and error and cover design and re-design, and size changes and (on and on) I managed to produce a 64 page hardcover version (8.5″ x 8.5″), and two paperback version ( an 8.5 and a 6.5 inch version). Different quality papers, as well.
A note of caution – you might see one or other of these advertised on Amazon. Don’t be fooled. They will not be available to buy. The picture quality really is just a wee bit too compromised for me to allow anyone to pay money for a copy. Amazon will eventually stop showing the books or simply be unable to fill the order (which will probably get me in trouble with them, but it’s the way it is).
The reason they show up on Amazon is simply because it took me some work to realise how to not list them there. All of this publishing caper is a journey of learning.
In any case, here is a picture of the first copies that I managed to create. There were many adjustments required to layout, but this basically the:
I’ll just reiterate – these versions of the books are not available to purchase.
Gosh, this has been a journey. I’ll go easy on the details.
Creating a picture book is hard work, at least initially. For me it has involved learning how to use Powerpoint slides to capture images and layouts, as well as how to come up with a way to fix images and text for e-book versions of the book.
One of the great advantages of e-books (generally the e-pub format or Kindle’s Mobi format) is that they feature re-flowable text. You change the settings on your reading device and the text changes in size, or words per line and so on. This feature makes it easier to read on any device, and even allows folk with eyesight issues to make the text large enough to read.
That is not a helpful feature for a picture book where what is desirable if for the picture to stay where it is placed, and for the text to remain exactly where it is needed, and exactly as formatted to make it look good. What is needed is something more like the Portable Document Format (PDF) where each page is a static image, rather than something that wriggles like a worm.
I found an approach to solving this via the Kindle Kids Creator tool, which allows fixed format pages to be created, including a ‘spread’ option (ie two pages to open together) so that image and accompanying text are displayed together.
<phew> Here is what it looks like:
It works well but creates a monster-sized file due to Amazon requirements. I’m not going to go any further into what was required to shrink it down to manageable size for a typical reader. Suffice to say it took some doing, but I’ve created two small books out of the process – a children’s book typically being around 32 pages, I decided to split the Bears into two. Just for the experience.
Here are the two e-books that will be available, but only in the Kindle format that described above. I haven’t figured out how to satisfactorily create a version of a picture book that I’m happy with in any other format yet.
That’s about all I have to say, about that.