The book and zine making thread

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#41
None will ever see another roll of film in my hands!
The photographer doth protest too much, methinks. Odd socks and sandals is a dead giveaway...
 
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Ed Sutton
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#42
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#44
I have three other SLRs (only one of which I've used for one roll of film, the others were gifted to me), a mjuII which I used to take fishing as a back up, plus a small collection of 'vintage' cameras. None will ever see another roll of film in my hands! :p
That's what they all say! Just face it, you're doomed now! Just ask Ian and Chris! How many film cameras is it now lads? :LOL:

Joking aside, thanks for starting this thread, I've been thinking of putting together a hard back photo-project book so will be following this thread with interest. I read a brief article in a photo mag about DIY photobooks and will try to find it again and let you know the printer they mentioned. It might be another possibility, or someone may have used them already and be able to give us some comparison feedback. :)
 
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Ed Sutton
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#45
This is slightly off-topic I think (sorry Dave ;)) since it’s mainly about hand-making photo books, but it’s interesting and there a several useful links in the comments :
The Joy of Making Your Own Photo Books :
https://theonlinephotographer.typep...1/the-joy-of-making-your-own-photo-books.html
We don't want to get into the realms of 'craft' and 'fine prints' I see espoused on TOP. Zines are punk - "it was easy, it was cheap – go and do it!" :giggle:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cp_NkixDyFg
 
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Ed Sutton
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#47
I've had a go at doing a flip through video. The original was upside down, but I amazed myself by working out how to invert it in Resolve! I might do another sometime and take more care over it.

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yBaufmhpNI
 
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#48
MIXAM You Nightmare You.

OK, some pitfalls to avoid... I made a video tonight about "how to make a zine using Mixam" and it was hilariously bad. So hilarious that I'll probably up it once it's edited just because I've never seen anyone do a photography based video that fails so epically. That UI is s***e.

Tips.

Know How Many Pages You Need Before You Start: Mixam likes to do everything in multiples of 4, so the page count of your book needs to be divisible by 4. If it isn't, you'll need to create some blank pages as stuffers. I have tried to add/remove pages in the UI and it just doesn't work. Maybe a simple delete works ok, but if you delete then add, your deleted pages mysteriously/magically come back. It's incredibly frustrating. Work on the basis you can't add/remove pages.

---> Best Tip: Name Your Pages Correctly: Save your files as page-1.pdf, page-2.pdf etc. Page 1 is the front cover. Page 2 is the inside of the front cover (normally blank), and page 3 is the first facing page you see. Pages 4 and 5 are the first "proper" pages of your book. If you (like I did) remove page 25 and 26 to make it fit nicely into a 28 page book, the software can't cope with it and throws a wobbly. Needs a restart.

Don't Fart About: If you lose your browser session, or hit the back button, you lose all the uploaded images and have to start again. Awesome.

Don't Save PDFs with Layers: If you save your PDFs using photoshop and saved them with layers in place, because it gave you flexibility, don't. The upload time is slow. My "flattened" pdfs were around 5Mb per page and took maybe 20 seconds per page to upload. My accidental "unflattened" pdfs were 120Mb and I gave up waiting.

Wait: When you see everything upload in the wrong place - wait until all the files have uploaded. Once they've all uploaded the order should be correct.

Reordering: If you need to re-order pages or move them about, you can't do it until you have uploaded all the pages. For some incredibly annoying reason you can't move pages around until you've done that. Best to get everything right in the first place, and rename the files to the correct page number. If you do this, the software is a breeze!

Don't Delete Pages: When you guess at the page count, and don't have an order in mind and want to use the software to re-organise things and add/remove pages, just DON'T. It doesn't work (or it doesn't work intuitively (Firefox, Jan 2020). If you're thinking of getting rid of Lightroom, this website will make you go crawling back to it like an obsequious cultist.

I have no doubt the print quality will be brill, but the interface is effing awful.

Mixam - if you're reading this...

1. Make adding/removing pages actually work.
2. Have the option to add a blank page. (Re: 1 & 2 - If everything has to be divisible by 4, that's fine for people who know what they're doing but idiot photographers who "figure it out as they go along" like to have flexibility. We have Lightroom dammit!)
3. Allow reshuffling of pages on a part-complete book
4. Allow "orders" to be part saved
5. Be consistent with "Next" buttons and tabs to move to the next part of the process....
 
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Ed Sutton
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#49
MIXAM You Nightmare You.

OK, some pitfalls to avoid... I made a video tonight about "how to make a zine using Mixam" and it was hilariously bad. So hilarious that I'll probably up it once it's edited just because I've never seen anyone do a photography based video that fails so epically. That UI is s***e.

Tips.

Know How Many Pages You Need Before You Start: Mixam likes to do everything in multiples of 4, so the page count of your book needs to be divisible by 4. If it isn't, you'll need to create some blank pages as stuffers. I have tried to add/remove pages in the UI and it just doesn't work. Maybe a simple delete works ok, but if you delete then add, your deleted pages mysteriously/magically come back. It's incredibly frustrating. Work on the basis you can't add/remove pages.

---> Best Tip: Name Your Pages Correctly: Save your files as page-1.pdf, page-2.pdf etc. Page 1 is the front cover. Page 2 is the inside of the front cover (normally blank), and page 3 is the first facing page you see. Pages 4 and 5 are the first "proper" pages of your book. If you (like I did) remove page 25 and 26 to make it fit nicely into a 28 page book, the software can't cope with it and throws a wobbly. Needs a restart.

Don't Fart About: If you lose your browser session, or hit the back button, you lose all the uploaded images and have to start again. Awesome.

Don't Save PDFs with Layers: If you save your PDFs using photoshop and saved them with layers in place, because it gave you flexibility, don't. The upload time is slow. My "flattened" pdfs were around 5Mb per page and took maybe 20 seconds per page to upload. My accidental "unflattened" pdfs were 120Mb and I gave up waiting.

Wait: When you see everything upload in the wrong place - wait until all the files have uploaded. Once they've all uploaded the order should be correct.

Reordering: If you need to re-order pages or move them about, you can't do it until you have uploaded all the pages. For some incredibly annoying reason you can't move pages around until you've done that. Best to get everything right in the first place, and rename the files to the correct page number. If you do this, the software is a breeze!

Don't Delete Pages: When you guess at the page count, and don't have an order in mind and want to use the software to re-organise things and add/remove pages, just DON'T. It doesn't work (or it doesn't work intuitively (Firefox, Jan 2020). If you're thinking of getting rid of Lightroom, this website will make you go crawling back to it like an obsequious cultist.

I have no doubt the print quality will be brill, but the interface is effing awful.

Mixam - if you're reading this...

1. Make adding/removing pages actually work.
2. Have the option to add a blank page. If everything has to be divisible by 4, that's fine for people who know what they're doing but idiot photogtraphers who "figure it out as they go along" like to have flexibility. We have Lightroom dammit!
3. Allow reshuffling of pages on a part-complete book
4. Allow "orders" to be part saved
5. Be consistent with "Next" buttons and tabs to move to the next part of the process....
Can't wait for the video!

I prefer to make my zines as a single PDF to avoid hassle with ordering multiple files on-line. :D Although I'm currently wondering if I saved my latest in RGB or the CMYK Mixam specify... :confused:

I was looking around Mixam's other offerings today and they are very much aimed at people who know their way around graphic design and print methodology and understand the jargon. Other sites such as Moo (postcards, business cards etc) and Doxdirect make life much easier for non-industry people to use. But they're pricier.

In other news. I remembered why I stopped using Open Office to design my booklets. It freezes when I get a lot of pictures in the project. Scribus doesn't, but it's proving more difficult to get the hang of.
 
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#50
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#51
I prefer to make my zines as a single PDF to avoid hassle with ordering multiple files on-line. :D Although I'm currently wondering if I saved my latest in RGB or the CMYK Mixam specify... :confused:
Good news/bad news from my Mixam test zine.

The colours are fine. (y)

The page order is wrong. (n)

However, the page order is correct on the Mixam preview. Page 1 appears as page 11. In other words, if I take the centre spread out and put it to the front of the page stack all is well. :thinking:

It's no big deal as I should have gone with a heavier cover and paper in any case, but I'll be dropping Mixam a line to see if it's my fault or theirs for future reference.

I'll do a compare and contrast of my Mixam and Doxdirect experiences later..
 
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#52
Some thoughts on the three publishing/printing services I've used - Blurb, Doxdirect, and Mixam. Firstly the print quality seems pretty consistent across all three so nothing much to say on that score. The comparisons are more on usability and value for money.

Blurb - www.blurb.co.uk
I find Blurb's BookSmart software easy to use both to design a book and to publish with. The newer BookWright took some adapting to but is also straightforward.

Prices are a bit steep when you go for hardback books. Softbacks are cheaper and there are often large (35% or more) discounts available on all printing which are worth hanging on for if you can.

Formats and sizes are well suited to photobooks. Provided there are plenty of pages both softback and hardback books look good and can have lettering on the spine. Both are basically the same perfect bound construction, except the hardback has a 'proper' cover.

I did one magazine with Blurb and can't recommend it. For some reason this was printed in the US IIRC and took ages to arrive. Also it's not a stapled product so won't lay flat. I'd designed a centre page spread which was ruined.

Blurb print jobs take about ten days to arrive.

Doxdirect - www.doxdirect.com
This is simple upload and print service. Files accepted are PDF, DOC, PPT, JPG and PNG. I've used PDFs, both single ones for teh complete book and multiple ones when the file size has been too large. Formats for books/zines are limited to A4 or A5. These can be saddle stitched (stapled), perfect bound (like a paperback), hardback or spiral bound. I haven't tried the hardback so can't compare it to Blurb's offering. If you have sufficient pages you can use the online designer to add text to the spine of a perfect bound booklet. This can also be used to design the cover if you haven't done that for a PDF. Which reminds me there is a knack to uploading the whole zine including the cover. I forget what it is now! But when uploaded you get a flip through viewer and can spot any pagination errors.

There are quite a few paper and cover options. The spiral bound booklet can have a clear plastic cover which I went for on the single copy I got done. You can also have more pages stapled than with Mixam, although this is unlikely to affect a photozine.

All projects are saved (so it's wise to give them names) and can be reordered with altered quantities - format cannot be altered.

Pricing is easy to calculate online and as quantities rise unit prices fall. For most jobs carriage is free and the standard print service is a couple of days with the order arriving a day or two later. There are same day and next day services, at a price. Packaging is recyclable and you sometimes get a packet of Haribos or wildflower seeds!

Mixam - mixam.co.uk
Having only used this once this is a bit sketchy.

Another upload files for print service, but only PDFs as far as I could see. The website is a bit difficult to navigate and get to grips with. It took me ages to find out what to click to upload my PDF.

Aimed more at print professionals than idiot amateurs it can be a bit daunting to understand everything on the site's info pages. I chose to ignore them all... Once the technicalities are sussed, however, there are many more format options available. I tried the custom sizing and it worked!

Pricing is low. Or it is if you want multiple copies. Doxdirect will print one or two copies with free postage which I think works out cheaper than doing that through Mixam. Handy if you just want a copy for yourself. But if you are planning on giving multiple copies away or adding a mark-up for sales purposes then Mixam is better value.

It looks like projects are saved and reordering is possible. Delivery was slower than Doxdirect but faster than Blurb. Packaging included plastic and no sweets.


That's a brief summary of my experiences. For 'keepsake' books I'll stick with Blurb's image wrap hardbacks because I know how to make them and can stand the cost for this purpose. For zines I'm going to get to grips with Mixam because I'd like to be able to give some away without it costing me a fortune. And maybe I might try to flog a few!
 
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Ed Sutton
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#53
Update on my Mixam order.

Contacted them using their website contact form and communication was quick and helpful. After sending photos of the error they offered me a refund or reprint without a need to return the cock-ups. The reprint is in progress. I'll be using them again. (y)

Blurb were equally helpful when I received a book that got damaged in transit last year.
 
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#54
Some thoughts on the three publishing/printing services I've used - Blurb, Doxdirect, and Mixam. Firstly the print quality seems pretty consistent across all three so nothing much to say on that score. The comparisons are more on usability and value for money.

Blurb - www.blurb.co.uk
I find Blurb's BookSmart software easy to use both to design a book and to publish with. The newer BookWright took some adapting to but is also straightforward.

Prices are a bit steep when you go for hardback books. Softbacks are cheaper and there are often large (35% or more) discounts available on all printing which are worth hanging on for if you can.

Formats and sizes are well suited to photobooks. Provided there are plenty of pages both softback and hardback books look good and can have lettering on the spine. Both are basically the same perfect bound construction, except the hardback has a 'proper' cover.

I did one magazine with Blurb and can't recommend it. For some reason this was printed in the US IIRC and took ages to arrive. Also it's not a stapled product so won't lay flat. I'd designed a centre page spread which was ruined.

Blurb print jobs take about ten days to arrive.

That's a brief summary of my experiences. For 'keepsake' books I'll stick with Blurb's image wrap hardbacks because I know how to make them and can stand the cost for this purpose. For zines I'm going to get to grips with Mixam because I'd like to be able to give some away without it costing me a fortune. And maybe I might try to flog a few!
Useful review .
I haven't done a zine (didn't know the word existed:)) but I have always liked producing printed books. I have published a yearly book of photos for the last 10 years and I am working backwards as well, to capture older memories.
I have always used PhotoBox and find their layouts fairly easy to use, fairly cheap if I wait for the offers and buy a 3 month credit.
Reproduction is good but is not at the same detail as a printed photo. What level of detail does the Blurb books reproduce?
 
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Ed Sutton
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#56
Reproduction is good but is not at the same detail as a printed photo. What level of detail does the Blurb books reproduce?
All the print on demand services I've used look pretty similar to me when I've examined the pictures using a magnifying glass or loupe. Reasonable but not as good as 'proper' photobook four colour printing.
 
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Ed Sutton
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#57
Just a quick update on pricing. I've been comparing the online quote systems.

10 copies, 12 pages plus cover, full colour with similar paper stocks: Mixam £24.50 plus carriage, Doxdirect £22.30 carriage paid.

If you go for 20 copies Mixam is still £24.50 plus carriage, Doxdirect jumps to £39.65 carriage paid.

10 copies, 12 pages plus cover, black and white (at Doxdirect) greyscale (at Mixam) with similar paper stocks: Mixam - £24.50 plus carriage, Doxdirect £11.80 carriage paid.

So it's worth comparing prices. There are other PDF print services which might be worth looking at.
 
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#58
My video is rendering. It's an hour of me getting frustrated with software in general. It's my 1st video too so probably shouldn't have been what it was... At least it'll provide someone with a solution for insomnia.
 
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Ed Sutton
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#60
Edit to add it won't render. 'Aint doing this again! Going to revisit tomrrow after sleep.
Video is a different world to real photography!

I had another go at doing a flip through using 'improved' techniques yesterday. Two takes later I binned them both - one for missing a page out and the other for poor quality.. My first effort was done in one take and was much better.... :rolleyes:
 
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#61
I give up. The project is made. Audio synced. Everything looks grand. But when I try and render it, it crashes out. Every time. Using Davinci Resolve (because free) and after going through the pain of learning it I'm quite dissappointed. Subsequent online research shows a ton of people with the same problem and a million different solutions. I tried all the ones I understood, but for now, I've had enough. The world will have to live without it. And that's probably a blessing.
 
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#62
I give up. The project is made. Audio synced. Everything looks grand. But when I try and render it, it crashes out. Every time. Using Davinci Resolve (because free) and after going through the pain of learning it I'm quite dissappointed. Subsequent online research shows a ton of people with the same problem and a million different solutions. I tried all the ones I understood, but for now, I've had enough. The world will have to live without it. And that's probably a blessing.
In the immortal words of HJS: “You tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.” :D

My reprint from Mixam has arrived, all correctly collated. (y)
 
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#63
So the final product was delivered this morning by DPD.

I have to say that the print quality is much better this time. I went for "Silk" paper rather than "Natural" and the blacks are proper black vs the dark grey of the natural paper. This is an issue I've discovered with my own printing on matt paper. It can be tricky to get deep blacks.

"Soft touch laminate" was the cover option I went for and it was really quite nice.

Turnaround time from committing to delivery was about a week. Also, it's worth noting that once you've paid for it, you then need to review everything and press an "I'm definitely happy" button. I spent a week wondering what was going on with my order and didn't realise I hadn't actually committed - even though I'd paid!
 
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#64
"Soft touch laminate" was the cover option I went for and it was really quite nice.
Flash b*st*rd! :giggle:

I had mine done on silk, including the cover, and I like it. On reflection I think the print and production quality is a little better than from Doxdirect, but there's not a lot in it.

What weight paper did you opt for?
 
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#65
What weight paper did you opt for?
170gsm. Too thick and it makes the pages hard to turn (1st world problems I know!). Too thin and the image bleeds through. I haven't tried any other weights though, I opted for 170 on my practise zine and found it to be perfect.
 
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#66
170gsm. Too thick and it makes the pages hard to turn (1st world problems I know!). Too thin and the image bleeds through. I haven't tried any other weights though, I opted for 170 on my practise zine and found it to be perfect.
Thanks.

I went for 150gsm and found it a little too thin, although I have used 120gsm for my Doxdirect projects (which had more pages). So I think page count can also have a bearing on choice paper weight. The lower the page count the higher the paper weight to make the zine feel more substantial.
 
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Ed Sutton
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#68
Blurb have a 40% discount offer on until the 25th.
 
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#69
As mentioned in the sharing thread I've done a blog post about making my Phragmites zine. https://lumbypics.blogspot.com/2020/04/a-zine-project.html

@Harlequin565 mentioned in his mini review that he liked my choice of font colour to match the pictures. I've been involved in publishing (angling magazines and books) for around 30 years and have picked up a few design tips along the way. One is to limit the number of fonts in a publication to three, four at the most. The other is to pick font colours from images they will accompany. I did just that for Phragmites using the DTP software's colour picker to select a colour from an image.

The selection of pictures also relied on keeping a limited range of tones and colours. I had quite a few pictures which I liked and thought worked well, but spoiled the flow and feel of the zine. The blog post should illustrate that. Developing a ruthless streak for editing is important.

I think designing a zine is much like composing a picture. You have to consider similar elements of balance, tension, harmony etc. While it's often recommended to use prints to shuffle the images I still find using DTP software easier, especially for seeing how a spread will look, and for 'flipping' through pages to see how a sequence presents. I think it's a bit like the way a picture that 'works' as an image on a contact sheet usually 'works' printed larger. Using the two page view in Acrobat works well for this.

The lack of explanatory text was mainly because I had nothing to say about the pictures!
 
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#70
I'm really glad I came across this thread. I'm one of those who just lets photos sit in folders forever. I print them for frames on occasion but I don;'t even do that often enough. It's a bit of a shame because I enjoy looking over them, and my 3 and 5 year old's evidently do too as they will sit and watch me go through them on my desktop.

I love the idea of a zine to give my photos a new lease of life, and if that goes well maybe a photo book.

I got my daughter a Fujifilm Instax with a little photo book. I'm a bit jealous she has something physical to show for her photos!
 

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#71
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#73
Here's a question. After how many pages does a zine stop being a zine?

I've just put together a sheep zine which is 64 saddle stitched pages plus 4 pages of cover. Is it a zine or what? I'm temopted to say it's a booklet.

This should be a preview. https://mixam.co.uk/share/5ebba70dc8ac446fa350f058
 
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#74
Wikipedia seems to define a zine in terms of circulation. I tend to think of it more as a "philosophy" - i.e. produce what you want, in your own way, answerable only to yourself, and by that definition I guess you can call it what you want however many pages it has.

The preview looks really good BTW, thanks for sharing.
 
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#75
I tend to think of it more as a "philosophy" - i.e. produce what you want, in your own way, answerable only to yourself.
I'd go along with that. But I guess most of the general public don't know much about zine culture. When I mention I make zines of my pics they tend to look at me blankly. :LOL:

Ta for the comment re the sheep zine/booklet. I think I have everything ready to roll on it now. After much faffing with Mixam's system.:banghead:
 
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#77
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#79
excellent work, why saddle stitched? good size for the perfect binding (says the expert :LOL::LOL::LOL: )
Ta.

I've done a couple of perfect bound zines and at small sizes I find they don't open 'flat' enough to see the pictures. At A4 it might be OK, particularly if there was more of space left along the gutter. But that would mean making different left and right pages. More faffing. ;)
 
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#80
Ooh, look!

unbox.jpg

They've turned out just fine. (y)

Now to try and talk some sheep fans into buying a copy! :LOL:
 
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