Monday, 20 June 2011

A Revised Curriculum

After many weeks of tinkering, some major changes of heart, and at least one lucky last minute discovery of a forgotten image (it always pays to go back through your files), I've drawn a tentative line under the "first final draft" of this latest book. Here it is, for your constructive comments. The "full screen" version of the preview (last button on the right) seems to work best. Some of the text is still too small to read, but it's all about the pictures.




I intend to enter it for the Photography Book Now competition (I know, I know...) which is why it's in this large, expensive, deluxe version. If you can afford it and want one, you can buy direct from Blurb, or contact me and I'll buy and send you one, signed and inscribed ("For [your name here]: il miglior fabbro", whatever you want). Otherwise, I intend to follow up with a standard 8"x10" version at some point.

Of course, some of your comments may cause me to review some of my decisions, so this may not yet be the "final final draft" ...

N.B. if anyone out there has an iPad, I'd be curious to know how the preview looks -- Blurb claim to have optimized the BookShow software for iPad viewing. I'm beginning to resent the special treatment you Apple people are getting... First Tom Phillips' Humument app, and now the new Faber multimedia version of the Waste Land...

19 comments:

struan said...

Looks great.

You have included several of my favourites, which means nobody will buy it.

And I'm too mean to get one myself :-)

Martin H. said...

I'm no photographer, but just in case my voice counts, it looks bloody good to me.

Frank Harkin said...

Mike
It looks terrific on an iPad. A really nice piece of work.

Photoessayist said...

Just thought you should know the viewer doesn't work in Google's Browser, Chrome.

Does in Microsoft Internet Explorer browser.

Mike C. said...

Thanks to everyone who has commented so far, on and off blog.

Isn't that just typical, though? Blurb's "new" book viewer looks great on an iPad, but doesn't work on Chrome...

The designers were clearly very keen to cover all the platform bases (Twitter, iPad, FaceBook, etc.) but -- assuming the problem isn't peculiar to Photoessayist -- seem to have neglected to test the software on a range of browsers.

According to my stats, this week's viewings break down like this:

Firefox (42%)
Internet Explorer(21%)
Safari(18%)
Chrome(12%)
Vienna(2%)
Opera(1%)

So Chrome is hardly negligible. I use Firefox myself, and it seems most of you do, too.

Mike

Kent Wiley said...

Yeah, I see you've been slacking again ;)

The book looks fabulous. Viewing it on the Pad is nice, but still a glorified thumbnail slideshow. Which actually allows for some critical thinking about your design. Because I can't really read all the text, the graphic content becomes much more noticeable. You've done a fine job there.

My desire for changes are minor and really a personal preference, from only 4 or 5 viewings. I don't care for the rope boxes around the three text fields in the three movements. If you've tried a thin line and found that didn't do it for you, how about reducing the rope to 20% gray?

The text box that appears in the middle movement doesn't mirror the size of the image on the opposing page, the way the other two boxes do. Plus, there is text outside the rope, which the other two don't have. You know this, though. Is it supposed to be inconsistent? I'm unsure if I'm supposed to be unsure...

I want one, but unfortunately the price is a bit dear. It's a book, Mike! Not a lens - or maybe it is!

Mike C. said...

Thanks, Kent -- now these are the sort of comments I'm looking for, folks!

The resolution may be degrading slightly on the iPad view -- those borders are chequers (a little gesture to the header of this blog) -- but I do take your point. It's maybe a wrong note. Yes, the middle one is meant to be different, but seeing it through your eyes makes me ask myself why I chose to do that.

Expensive -- yes, afraid so. The largest size in best quality paper is not cheap. Blurb do offer bulk discounts over 10 copies, so I may buy in a few to offer, but they're never going to be less than £50 or so. I will follow up with a "mass market" (!) version at £15 - 20...

Thanks again,

Mike

Kent Wiley said...

Ahh, chequers. Now that I look at it again, on the laptop, I see that this is so. Maybe I'll retract my earlier comment. When I can see them and recognize what they are, and know that they echo the header of the blog, it works better for me. How hard would it be to increase the size of those elements by say 10%? Do you feel like the size that you've got now is the optimal one?

I was saying only the other day that "waffling" is considered a bad thing, especially in politicians. No doubt it signifies "unmanly" behavior. I'm no politician, but I'm going to waffle and leave it to the instincts of the artist to decide.

I'm standing firm on the middle text box, though. Or am I supposed to be "thinking outside the box?" Nonetheless, can you make the shape of the text on that page mirror the opposing photo?

I suppose £50 becomes £60 to ship it here to the US. Damn! I would like to see one of these Blurb books. Can you give me another little push?

Mike C. said...

Kent,

If I think back to when I made those text graphics, my intention was to make something that suggested a Christmas cracker motto (if you have those in the US) or a pokerwork plaque, that sort of thing. I'd sort of forgotten that, and your question made me wonder -- helpfully -- whether it all still makes sense, or just looks a bit superfluously decorative. I'm thinking about it. I think I've just had an even better idea...

Unfortunately, the large Blurb sizes don't come in paperback (this one is 13" x 11"), and I've chosen the "imagewrap" option (printed covers) which is more expensive than the "dustjacket" option. I have to buy one myself to keep it on the Blurb site, but I'm not expecting to sell more than three or four at most. It's a competition entry, not a commercial venture...

Watch out for the 8x10 paperback, which (with standard paper) will be £17.95!

Mike

Kent Wiley said...

Happy to have sparked "a better idea."

Do you think the image wrap versions of Blurb books are 3 X better than the paperbacks?

Mike C. said...

Kent,

"Do you think the image wrap versions of Blurb books are 3 X better than the paperbacks?"

Not sure what you mean? If you mean the price, then an 80 page paperback 8x10 on standard paper is £17.95, and the same book in image-wrap hardback is £24.95 -- not a huge difference in price and, yes, well worth it. It's a very superior product, in terms of appearance, handling, and durability. You should try making one!

Mike

James.M said...

Looks great Mike. This is only just on topic, but in the spirit of free association on logic and photography, here's a nice quote from Timothy Williamson (the grandly named Wykeham Professor of Logic at Oxford) which appears in Steve Pyke's book Philosophers:

"Logic resembles good poetry: a precise and radical imagination, an elegant and powerful form, exactly the right expressions in exactly the right order, subtle variations on a theme, the unfamiliar articulation of the familiar, reflection in language on language and its relation to the world, depth achieved through scrupulous accuracy."

You see some of Pyke's photos here: http://www.pyke-eye.com/philosophers.html

Mike C. said...

Thanks, James -- your quote pretty much sums up what I'd hope to do with a book like this.

I'm never sure what I think about Steve Pyke. A lot of his work is very striking, but -- for a portraitist -- quite often seems to serve the photographer's graphical ends rather than those of the subject, if you see what I mean. As the possessor of a "graphic" nose, I'd be very nervous about posing for him...

Mike

Paul Mc Cann said...

(Worked in Chrome for me)
Love the book and the whole concept. It gives me more of an idea of you as an artist than individual images ever do.

€86 ? I know I'm fond of myself and a bit of a bibliophile to boot (its that Mike Johnston with his recommendations) but I think I'll wait for the working mans copy.

Any hope of you selling signed editions of the low rent version ?

Mike C. said...

"Any hope of you selling signed editions of the low rent version ?"

It's a thought. However, the huge advantage of using print-on-demand is that I don't have a big box of unsold books at home -- I have to order any copies I want myself from Blurb (at only a very slightly discounted price) and then pay to pack and mail them out, so there's no real incentive to do this unless I charge a premium.

It makes sense to do this for the "deluxe" version (remarkably, I've already sold a couple) but less so for the "low rent" version...

I'll think about it, when I know what the likely demand will be! I have never yet sold more than 30 copies of any book...

Mike

Carsten S said...

Works fine in Chrome for me. If it does not, this might be because of the version of Flash, not because of the browser.

Kent Wiley said...

Mike,

Is the book "done"? Or are you still tweaking due to suggestions made here & elsewhere? I'll probably order one when you think you've finished mucking about with it.

Mike C. said...

Kent,

No, I'm definitely in "listening mode", and when I say I may make some changes, I'm serious. The PBN deadline is July 14, so there's plenty of time for me to see what people have to say. If I like what I hear, I will make some changes.

I'm really not expecting anyone to buy the "big" version -- I have to buy one copy to keep it on the Blurb site, but before 14/7 it will be replaced by the "final final" draft, and thereafter I'll launch a smaller version (though some layout may need changing to accommodate the different size and shape).

Mike

Mike C. said...

Carsten,

Interesting -- so many variables to consider these days! It's always the problem with using fancy animated graphics that depend on plug-ins, etc.

Mike