Using FOSS tools to publish books can be fun, and is as professional as (sometimes more than) using proprietary software. Here is how I go about the job with some of the best tools available.
For over the past decade, I took time off from writing and got involved in building a small but interesting, alternative book publishing venture. It took me quite by surprise when someone on one of the global LyX mailing lists said that my publishing firm Goa,1556 might be the only ‘commercial’ outfit in the world to use that software to craft almost every one of its books.
Our printers in Bengaluru often comment on how neat the LyX-generated output it. One must add though, that if you’re still learning and finding your way around, it might take a bit of trial and error to get your output fine.
LyX, pronounced licks, is based on the LaTeX typesetting system. Interestingly, the computer scientist Donal Ervin Knuth created TeX after the printers of his book (The Art of Computer Programming) moved away from hotmetal typesetting, and he was frustrated with the inability of their new phototypesetting system to match the quality of previous volumes of the book!
But a publisher doesn’t live by LyX alone. If you’re a proprietorial software person, then the tools you hear about for page layouts are the costly InDesign, and the earlier QuarkXpress or PageMaker. Try Scribus. It may not be as elegant as InDesign, but it does have its strengths. CMYK colour and ICC colour profiles are good. Scribus deals with them automatically. Macro scripting is easy; examples are available for free online.
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