[OS X TeX] Writing a book
loki at uchicago.edu
Fri Jan 31 12:09:47 EST 2014
My very limited experience is this: Technical publishers (notably World Scientific) are very comfortable with LaTeX. Non-technical publishers are usually ignorant of LaTeX. If they know it at all, it is mostly as some weird uber-geek thing that they want to stay away from.
I have retyped and edited three books in LaTeX. Two were Freeman Dyson's Cornell notes on quantum electrodynamics (a second edition incorporated some later notes from Les Houches.) World Scientific could not have been easier to work with. The third was a book that was technical in nature (Lillian Lieber's The Einstein Theory of Relativity) and reissued by Paul Dry Books, who usually does philosophy, history, fiction and so on. They were a little bit apprehensive. Section by section I sent them the PDF's, they found my gazillions of typos, sent me the corrections, and I made the corrections. This took maybe a couple of iterations before we got 'em all. They were happy not to pay for rekeying (like all my book efforts, this was done for free) and I was happy at the way the book turned out. (My very good friend Bob Jantzen of Villanova is a TeXspert, as well as an expert in general relativity, was a co-editor. He put as much thought into the book as I did, and contributed substantially to the notes and to the appearance of the book. Without his help the reissue would not have happened.)
I think that you should be able to find a publisher who knows LaTeX if the book is technical in nature. If it is not, or if it is technical and you're publisher is not familiar with LaTeX, you should offer to correct the errors or otherwise alter the layout in a mutually agreeable fashion.
There are some truly beautiful books out there done with LaTeX that are not in the slightest technical. I've seen samples on line. Maybe you could show these to your hesitant editors.
On Jan 31, 2014, at 10:32 AM, Themis Matsoukas wrote:
> If the author doesn’t care about the looks of the book, the publisher will not. It did not use to be that way. Take any technical book published before the 80’s and it will look very professionally done. Then look at recent books, or even better, at recent editions of old ones. Many look really bad. I have a graduate thermodynamics book where the math is set in bigger font (looks 14pt) that the text. An undergraduate book where no two figures (all made in excel) follow the same formatting rules in terms of fonts, line thicknesses and the like. And I could go on and on. Such amateurism is common place these days, even as the price tag is upwards of $100. The bottom line is that, as the author, you have to fight and negotiate. It’s your baby after all. No one can take it from you and dress it up like a clown.
> On Jan 31, 2014, at 7:37 AM, William Adams <will.adams at frycomm.com> wrote:
>> On Jan 30, 2014, at 9:05 AM, John B. Thoo wrote:
>>> It turns out that the publisher does not work with (La)TeX and, unfortunately, my LaTeX skills are very basic. (E.g., I kludged the exercise sections using the enumerate environ. I wish I knew a better way to include exercises so that they would be better formatted and particular exercises would be easier to reference from the text.) My friend, thus, raised the following concern.
>> A quick search reveals two promising search results:
>>> "So the book would look exactly like how it types sets for you. So it would look like a very long article. To get different color, size and style fonts for things like section tiles, text to wrap around images, sidebars, and all the other things that make a text book look appealing, we would need to do it in Word. so the question is do we stick with what we have because it is almost done and you have put sooooo much time into the Tex, or switch to Word so it can look like other texts?"
>> People who use Word to lay out books deserve what they get.
>>> Now, I don't use Word. I don't even have a copy of Word. My question is, can my friend's concerns be addressed using LaTeX and, if so, where do you suggest I learn how to do it?
>> When I was starting out, I'd plug in a description into a search engine for any difficulty I was having. Usually it would result in a number of results which all used a particular package to address the problem, so I'd read the package documentation, see if it was suitable, and if it was, add it to my preamble (w/ a %comment on why it was there) and adapt my code.
>> These days I use Memoir.
>>> Here is a draft that shows what the book format looks like now.
>>> <http://ms.yccd.edu/Data/Sites/1/userfiles/facstaff/jthoo/cvandpubs/books/imh_dft20130913.pdf> (77 MB)
>>> I am still using TeX Live 2012 in XQaurtz. (I type in vi.) I should upgrade to the latest.
>>> Thanks very much in anticipation for your advice.
>> My suggestion would be to:
>> - get the publisher to cough up a book design / template (as a .pdf) or typesetting specification
>> - re-work your design to match that, but being careful not to damage the semantic markup while doing so
>> - send them .pdfs for review and copy-editing
>> William Adams
>> senior graphic designer
>> Fry Communications
>> Sphinx of black quartz, judge my vow.
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