Baking and Dessert Volume 3 in print

Ever since I discovered Print-On-Demand services, I've enjoyed making books that chronicle my baking and travel adventures. For Volume 1 way back in 2006, I made a very modest book using QOOP. For Volume 2 in 2008, I got a little fancier and made a book using Blurb. A book covering Volume 3 has been long overdue, but with a coupon for 20% off from Viovio to entice me back to their service, I had more incentive to design one before the end of the year.

If you don't care about the whole design and printing process, just click on the image at the left and find the button that says Flip Preview to browse the book's pages. Otherwise, read on.

The last few books I made were done with Blurb's BookSmart software. This is a native design application that offers limited customization, but Viovio doesn't offer anything similar. I decided to use Apple Pages '09 to make my book and export a PDF from it. This software is Apple's entry-level word processing and page layout tool. I started with a blank portrait template with a page size of 8.75" × 11.25" to accommodate the one-eighth inch trimming on all sides.

Laying out the pages was as easy as dragging and dropping photos. I made extensive use of opacity/transparency both for text and images along with some gradients and built-in visual effects like push-pins, taped notes, dialog balloons and Polaroid frames. For visual consistency, I kept the number of fonts to three, all downloaded or purchased from MyFonts. Page numbers were slightly tricky as Page Layout templates do not allow footers. I ended up creating two blank page templates for left and right pages containing a single text box with a Page Number in it.

To create the final PDF, I kept in mind that Viovio recommends that entire fonts be embedded, not just a subset of the characters. Their support staff recommended that I used the Export option with PDF output rather than File | Print | PDF | Save as PDF. From my own research, I found out I needed to use the PDF-X format to ensure fonts were embedded. However, the default ColorSync rasterization filter settings that Apple sets are very low-quality (the gory details are here). To avoid all these headaches, I stuck with exporting as a PDF.

On my first try, Pages exported a high-quality PDF that was over 400MB in size! Given that I had about 180 photos, some at 10 megapixels and others at 4 megapixels, this wasn't unreasonable, but I was worried that an upload of that size would take too long. Pages has a Reduce File Size option which I tried and that churned out a 40MB PDF. At that point, I realized I had probably lost image resolution because there was no way 180 JPEGs at 4 megapixels or higher would compress like that. So, I stuck with the original, larger PDF.

I submitted to Viovio on Thurs Dec 30 just before midnight and ordered two copies with Perfect Bound Softcover, Express Photo Silk Paper. It went to manufacturing on Mon Jan 3 and shipped on Wed Jan 5 from Rochester, NY. I received it while on vacation in FL on Fri Jan 7 right on time (I paid for 2-day USPS Priority Mail). That's fast turnaround! I'm very pleased with the layouts that Pages produced and the quality of the book printed by Viovio.


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