The Book

Te Wai Pounamu Revisited, cover
Te Wai Pounamu Revisited, cover

I didn’t know whether I would survive this long, but finally the book is there. Grab a copy at hugendubel for €29.99 postage-free while you can, or the printers epubli for €29.99 plus postage. Plenty of color photos specifically brightened, contrasted and gammaed for the print medium. I hope you enjoy.

Article continues below.

Update: May 31, 2023

Also available as an e-book for US$ 9.99.

Original article continued…

For enjoyable the process certainly was not. We live in an age of the extinction of quality control. Sure, set up a web site to earn some money with, but allow General Disregard to take over when it comes to whether said website actually works (aka the customer experience) or whether what you can deliver actually works either (aka customer experience, sorry, am I repeating myself?).

There are plenty of vanity press publishers out there and none of them are any good, which invites the question of how they manage to survive at all. When a rubbery slogan like, “Two clicks to your new book” hits the road of reality, where it’s more like two thousand clicks, how can a company possibly survive, when it perforce loses customers when it cannot deliver, when customers are fed to the army of trained parrots calling themselves “advisors” whose advice is practically worthless?

Epubli as a case in point. It has taken three weeks to upload the content file and two graphics files for the cover. Most of the time the server just gives up the ghost and a budding author is left to contemplate a never-ending, rotating green ring until the early hours of the morning. I uploaded my content file at least twenty times, and each upload involved compromising the performance of my machine (no idea what stuff they are trying to run on other people’s computers), as well as having a small chance of ever being successful.

The cause of this was … my outdated browser. At least, according to the parrots. Talk about a piece of old chewey! Sorry, but I have no idea how anyone could continue to operate an outdated browser (which one? Internet Explorer? Netscape?), since they all update themselves automatically. In any case, what difference does it make how I transfer the data from my computer to theirs? It was theirs that hung itself up. Own goal for team parrot.

If I managed to upload the file once, the fun really started. First of all, there were all those “transparencies”, that would ambush the printer and lead to an unpalatable result on paper. No idea what they meant, but, yes, all of my images were PNGs, some of which still had an (empty) alpha (transparency) channel attached. Nett effect on the printed result (see previous publications): Nil. But instead of answering my concerns that I couldn’t prevent black-and-white pages being misinterpreted as gray-scale pages, all of the Psittacidae’s attention became focussed on this, like some unhealthy obsession.

As for the very large file I was trying to upload (which sometimes worked, some didn’t) I was informed that the file was too complicated (whatever was meant by that?), there were too many pictures (just how many is “too many”? Never an answer), and to try to “optimise” the PDF by reducing the image resolution from 600 to 300 dpi which would be “sufficient for printing”. Well, no. I processed my images for 600 dpi printing, including a critical final step, sharpening, which is only visible if the pictures are printed at their intended resolution. Reduce the resolution and lose the intended effect. If I had wanted to have images printed at 300 dpi, I would have worked at that resolution right from the start. Try explaining that to a parrot.

Finally a request to email them a file, since my efforts at uploading were not getting anywhere. Never give a parrot anything to play with, because they will then start just making stuff up. “You are not allowed to export a PDF directly from an OpenOffice document.” Huh? Who said so? Instead I was advised to use a virtual printer driver whose provenance was anything but. That at least solved the transparency “problem”, but ended up with an undefined JPEG compression quality for which I apologise in advance.

The final straw was still getting the right pages to print just text or text and images. To do this I was told to save the images with the color profile that would be used when printing, and that would save having to convert the images on line. First of all, why would the color profile need to be converted during the upload process at all? Secondly, this requires some dedicated fooling around with GIMP, and nobody can really say how it is done. And finally: What color profile do they want me to use? No reply.

In short, this works when it works, and doesn’t when it doesn’t. Bye-bye QC.