[Portable Poetry ...poems for your pocket]












[The book printer - Amman]

Making Custom Books

Step 4: Create a print ready file of the Portable Poetry

All the poems in the Portable Poetry catalogue exist in file form on the Portable Poetry computer. They respect a certain format - you can see what this looks like below:

fig 5: a Poem as it appears in the system

To actually get customers' orders printed, we rely on the "magic" button shown below:

[Apple Script]

fig 6: the button

If you're familiar with the Mac OS you might recognise this the icon for a script written with the Mac OS language "AppleScript". AppleScript is a very powerful tool which many Mac owners don't even realise is on their computer (if you're a Windows person, then you might be more familiar with Visual Basic Script which probably does something similar - can't say for sure because I've never used it!) Basically Apple Script a language which allows you to get different applications on your computer to do all the work while you relax and take it easy. Once you've learned the syntax, which is very intuitive and English-like, you can put together quite complicated "super macros" which will automate tasks which would otherwise be long and repetitive. I wrote an Apple Script that takes a customer order as input and outputs a print-ready custom booklet. You can see a snippet of the script below:

[Apple Script Snippet]

fig 7: AppleScript snippet

Three applications are used to produce the printed copy of a Portable Poetry - Microsoft Word (this does the slog work such as copying and pasting, formating text, checking for orphans and widows, etc), Adobe PageMaker (a professional desktop publishing package which provides a flexibility and finition that Word simply can't when it comes to producing the print ready file), and the "Finder" (this is basically another name for the Mac Operating System which does things like copying and deleting files, backing up directories and so on). With a Script written in AppleScript, all 3 can be made to work together in a perfect harmony that still surprises whenever I watch it working.

The fruit of all this is a print ready file for each booklet which remains only to be printed, as described in the next step..

Step 5: Print the booklets

For those who like to know this sort of thing, portable poetries are printed on a HP Laserjet 2100 Series laser printer. Why this printer and not another? Well, first, I needed to make sure the finished Portable Poetries would be waterproof so this ruled out inkjet which have a tendency to smear when you get water on them (at least this has been my experience with inkjets). I also wanted good definition for the finished booklets and postscript compatibility (HP is apparently "emulated PostScript", though I can't tell the difference). Finally, the one thing I absolutely needed was recto-verso capability i.e. the ability to print on both sides of page. I didn't necessarily need automatic recto verso (where the printer looks after turning each page around to print the other side) though that would have been nice, I just needed manual. There are very few, reasonably sized and priced laser printers that do recto verso printing but the HP Laserjet 2100 Series is one.

At this point, a quick word on the paper used for Portable Poetries is probably in order. I use three different sorts of paper - one for the text, one for the endsheets, and one for the cover.

For the text paper, I worked with a local paper supplier and eventually settled on the paper I use today which is an umembossed, off-white art paper weighing 90g.

For the endsheets, I wanted something that would stand out without being too flash. I just happenned to have some light green-pastel coloured translucid paper available when I put together the first ever Portable Poetry (as an experiment at the time to see what it would look like) and it was perfect so I've stuck with that (with the exception that today I tend to use a light purple colour).

The cover paper is rather special because it's handmade in Tibet. Its texture and quality vary from batch to batch so you can never really tell exactly what you're going to get but life is more exciting that way, isn't it?

When the text page for a Portable Poetry is printed it looks like the sample shown in the image below. The page size is A4. A 16 page booklet requires 1 page, a 32 page booklet 2 pages, and a 48 page booklet 3 pages.

[raw text file]

fig 8: the printed raw text file

To see how the booklets are put together, follow the " NEXT" link below and you will be put out of your misery.



Copyright 2001,
The Portable Poetry Company