Archive for the ‘Books and bookmaking’ Category

You know those ideas that are so obvious you can’t believe you never thought of them?  That’s how it was when I heard someone speculate (when talking about electronic vs. paper) that you could probably turn an out-of-copyright digital book back into a paper book by using a book-printing service.

So – I’m thinking – I can take an out-of-copyright PDF book that’s on my laptop, one that I use all the time, and have a brand-new, paperback book made for maybe $15?  OK, this could work.

I settled on volume one of Savage’s A Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England for my test.  I logged into Lulu.com and uploaded the PDF.  Well, that didn’t work.  Lulu.com had several objections to make (by way of red error messages): the page sizes weren’t uniform, and I needed to embed the fonts.  Embed the fonts?  That’s a mind boggling thought for something that was typeset 152 years ago.  I think those fonts are gone!

I googled, and I tried a few things.  What many people do is grab the text only and reformat the whole thing into their own new document, with their own fonts.  I had no interest in introducing errors (and work) that way, and I would like to keep any pictures and formatting in place.  One other thing that I did try was to re-size all pages to a (larger) standard size – for instance, placing all pages onto an 8-1/5 x 11 size.  For some reason, lulu.com wasn’t accepting that the pages were now the same size. So I thought a bit, tried some more things, and I did, in the end, make it work.

Please keep in mind that I am printing a personal copy of an out-of-copyright work, for my own use and not for re-sale.  In general, many American works printed before 1923 fall into this category.

So here are the steps that DID work:

  • You must have the full version of Acrobat (not just the Reader).  I happen to have that on my home computer because I use it a lot.
  • You must have the PDF book on your computer.
  • I opened the PDF book in Acrobat:

    the original PDF

  • The first pages, and last pages, which depicted the brown cover, seemed to be a different size, so I deleted them.  You can see the size of each page by hovering your mouse near the bottom of the page until a box opens up showing the dimensions.  I learned that if the size of the pdf is slightly smaller that the size of the finished book that you select in Lulu.com, it may work, but to be safe, decide on a finish size acceptable to  Lulu.com FIRST, resize the pfd at this point to that exact size, and proceed with the next steps.  You re-size a pdf by choosing Document–>Crop Pages–>Change Page Size to–>Custom (be sure to choose Page Range=All).
  • Then I used “Save As” to save the book as a TIFF file.  Giving this command results in each page becoming a separate TIFF file, neatly lined up, in order, in the folder where you had the original PDF (it’s really best to put that pdf in its own folder before doing Save As).  This takes several minutes.

    page by page, the TIFF file is built automatically

  • Next, you recombine those files using File–>Combine–>Merge Files into a Single PDF.  This opens up a window that asks you to grab your pages and drop them in.  You should keep them in order (may want to sort the set of pages in its folder first, using Arrange By -> Name).

    drag and drop the pages into the Combine screen

  • In the bottom corner there is a “File Size” selector – I used the largest size.  Click “Combine Files”.  It will take a few minutes.
  • The resulting new PDF has lost some clarity, but it’s not too bad.  If you hate the level of clarity, you may need to stop at this point and just forget it.  I find some are better, some worse.

    the pdf ready for printing

  • The resulting PDF is called “Binder1” – you should rename it.  Around this time, I worried that I still needed to have the “embed fonts” option turned on (even though there really were no fonts at this point, only pictures) but I need not have worried, that setting was already on in my Acrobat software.  I also deleted those hundreds of single-page documents from my computer.
  • Log into Lulu.com or another book-printing service, upload the new PDF, create a cover, check everything carefully, and order.  If you have not exactly matched the page size, Lulu.com will give one pink warning that the page size doesn’t exactly match the trim size of book but ignoring that should be ok – you just risk that the print will drift to one side of the paper instead of staying in the middle.  I printed in the 6 x 9″ size.  With an email discount coupon I had, and shipping, the 532 page book came to $16.10.

The book arrived today:

finished book – I chose a fanciful Rhode Island logo for the cover

This was very little work, once I figured it out.  The type is a little grainy but better than what I pictured as a PDF, above.   For a reference book that you won’t be reading cover-to-cover, it’s nice to have.  If I owned InDesign I could probably do a better job.

The link to this post is: https://onerhodeislandfamily.com/2012/02/08/how-to-print-your-own-out-of-copyright-book/

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Or, how I made a book in three hours.

I like to make a printed “draft” booklet about a branch of the family once in a while, just in case something prevents me from following my plan to spend the next 40 years pursuing the COMPLETE answers to my genealogical problems. I feel like small books will be saved and available to the next generations even if my electronic trees, gedcoms, notes and files are not.


My usual style is to compile some charts, an Ahnentafel, a table of contents, some stories and an index using my Legacy software. Then I take the printouts to Staples and have them spiral bound. I like the look of the Legacy-produced documents and they have quite a few great options like place name indices and including additional spouses. However my new BFF is Family Tree Maker 2012, because it automatically synchs with the Ancestry trees, and synchs fairly well. For instance, it copies the census records into stored files on my computer. Gotta love that. And it synchs pictures as well as data. So I have decided to just get through the learning curve on FTM12 and live with the reports not being everything my heart desires.

A visit to Lulu

So the other day I wandered into Lulu.com, the self-publishing site, and saw that they were having a 25% off sale which was ending soon. I’ve never used the site before. Honestly, if I’d realized at the get-go that the book was only going to be $7.00 I’m not sure I would have moved so quickly to grab the deal, but I did. I thought, wouldn’t it be fun to print out some information about my grandfather Miles E. Baldwin‘s ancestors (research done in the past year) and just give this to mom when I see her at Christmas. Although I only have discovered a small portion of Grampa’s ancestry, he may be both a Canadian Hector descendant and a Mayflower descendant. I thought mom would like to look this over.

Making the pdf

So I turned to FTM12 to produce a pdf book. I went to the Publish screen and produced and saved several charts and an Ahnentafel. Of course, I had to fool around with the options quite a bit to get things the way I wanted them.

Chart, page one - notice how Catherine Spaulding's parents may be named Younge. It's quite a mystery, but it's all I've found so far. You can see I'm nowhere on the Baldwins.

I like to start the book with a multi-page chart to give people a map, of sorts, to the Ahnentafel. Then after the Ahnentafel I added a source section. To finish up, I wanted an index and a table of contents. Couldn’t figure out how to do that, but then I remembered Randy Seaver had the same problem in his recent series of posts on FTM12. I don’t know why FTM hides those valuable options behind a “Share” button in the corner, but they do. Thank you for the help, Randy.

Because I had fussed over my trees’ place names, stories in the “Notes” field, error correction and other consistencies last winter, my Ahnentafel came out pretty well finished. This saves time because, of course, all edits would have to be made back in the data screens. It was only 360 people; I have a long way to go on Grampa’s family. I put aside my idea of transferring my longer blog stories into an appendix. I do plan to do that in the future, but they would need to be in color. The book was 86 pages.

Creating the book

So now I was about two hours into this and ready to upload the pdf to Lulu. I started an account, uploaded, and made some choices about the format. I chose the standard paper and the black and white printing. Even with black and white printing, the covers will be in color. I decided mom would get a kick out of perfect binding instead of spiral. Designing a cover took a while; my scanned pictures didn’t cooperate very well when they were blown up to fill the whole cover, and I couldn’t seem to find a cover design that would only incorporate smaller pictures. This is where an bunch of extra time could/should/would have been spent, but I didn’t. Just chose something, added one tiny picture on the back, a title, a little text on the back, and moved on.

My book - front cover

Ordering the book

I made sure that I marked the book as “private” so that copies wouldn’t be offered for sale on Lulu (although, wow, what a great opportunity if you DID want to self-publish). I ordered one copy. After I had registered I received an email coupon for a free copy of my newly created book, but I didn’t see that until it was too late. Anyway, with the discount and shipping, the purchase came to $9.71. The whole thing took three hours, total. I didn’t pay for rush shipping, so no guarantee I’ll have it for Christmas, but if not I can always send it later.

Mom is reading this

and now knows about one of her presents. Merry Christmas, Mom.

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