Vol. XXI, No. 3
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January, 2009

E-Publishing: The Second Edition

Harrison Eiteljorg, II
(See email contacts page for the author's email address.)

The second edition of Archaeological Computing has just been released (see archcomp.csanet.org). As before, two versions were placed on the CSA web site, one for one-sided printing and one for duplex printing. There were many edits of the first edition, too many of them required by typos in that first edition, and one new chapter was added. In addition, pagination was corrected so that the preliminary pages are not counted, making searches by page number simpler. The files were also protected against inadevertent changes by users. Finally, some pages that are more easily used in landscape orientation will be displayed that way on screen. (All those changes were accomplished thanks to the good advice of a graduate-school colleague from more years ago than either of us will admit, Bruce Bevan. I am indebted to him for his assistance.) Having now produced two versions of this work, I think some of the experience gained may be of use to others, especially given the number of items concerning electronic publication that have appeared in the CSA Newsletter recently.

The most notable discovery to emerge from producing a second edition is the absurdity of making two versions, one for standard, one-sided printing and another for duplex printing. Doing that for the first edition was an annoyance, but it seemed both a clever thing to do and necessary because of the way the pages had been laid out. The layout had been planned with the idea that ample room for margin notes was a good idea, a notion I still find appealing, but it virtually required one-sided printing because the margin for notes was only useful if positioned on the side of the page away from the binding or notebook rings; producing a duplex version therefore was a virtuous thing to do, making the margin useful on either the left or the right page if the user printed on both sides of the paper to help save some trees. Doing that again, however, seemed not only a colossal waste of time but an unfortunate requirement that delayed the introduction of the second edition by some weeks at the least. The one-sided-printing version was the one actually edited. It was complete before the duplex version could be created. [Note: It would have been possible to edit both versions simultaneously but that seemed very problematic and time-consuming. I chose not to do that after an initial attempt that proved too error-prone to continue.] When the one-sided version was complete, a copy was generated, and all the changes required to create a duplex version were made to the copy, which ultimately became the duplex version of the book.

I will therefore make the third edition -- assuming there is one -- as a single file, suitable for printing either on only one side of the paper or on both sides, as the user prefers. That will require a complete re-working of the layout, and I hope that it will be possible to retain the space for margin notes. This problem suggests one recommendation that stems from my experience: books should be designed by people who know how to do that. Shocking to find, experience really matters. In my defense, I must note that I did try to find someone to assist, but I confined my searching to people with experience using specific computer tools. A book designer need not be the same person who actually lays out the parts on a computer.

Another lesson learned the hard way is that using the superb computer tools available for book layout does require good training. I am now fairly adept with the program I used, InDesign® (a part of the Adobe® graphics suite). What I learned the hard way was that learning the hard way is hard. (OK, parse that!) Also very inefficient. I did not take any classes to learn how to use the program, thinking that my experience with InDesign to produce newsletters had prepared me for this challenge. For a myriad of things, however, I was not prepared at the outset. I learned each of those things ultimately at some level, but indexing, style sheets and their very wide utility, cross-references, and so on were far harder to learn "on the job," than they would have been in a class. Furthermore, I was able to take advantage of some of those lessons only late in the day, meaning that some of the earlier work was both harder and less effective than it could have been.

Finally, copy editing is both more important and more difficult than we expected. Had it not been for Susan Jones' superb reading -- she actually checked references, internal and external; made sure figure numbers were correct; and so on -- I shudder to think what the result would have been. And even with her reading and my own, a shocking number of typos made it through to the first edition. I can only assume that there are many remaining in the second.

All the matters discussed here relate back to cost issues. That is, pinching pennies pushed us to by-pass book design, made me determined to use InDesign to create the book myself, and encouraged me to leave out professional copy editing. This, in turn, points out the desirability of having electronic publishing done by the traditional publishers rather than those of us who simply want to publish a single work or perhaps two in electronic form; publishers' experience is extremely valuable. Traditional pubishers, of course, also bring along the additional advantage of peer review, something just impossible in our circumstances.

So I conclude with an old, perhaps tired plea, indeed, my old words directly: "Where are the professional organizations on this? Some have spoken out but no more; they must put their resources on the line if they are to make a difference in this realm. As is so often the case, we seem to be marching firmly into the future with our faces turned to the past. I think it is past time to turn around and face the future, letting the past be our subject, not our ball and chain." (The Electronic Monograph: A Scholarly Necessity or the Never-Reached Pot of Gold at the End of the Rainbow? at csanet.org/newsletter/winter08/nlw0804.html, CSA Newsletter, Vol. XX, no. 3; Winter, 2008)

-- Harrison Eiteljorg, II

An index by subject for all CSA Newsletter issues may be found at csanet.org/newsletter/nlxref.html; included there are listings for articles concerning the use of electronic media in the humanities and electronic publishing.

Table of Contents for the January, 2009, issue of the CSA Newsletter (Vol. XXI, no. 3)

Master Index Table of Contents for all CSA Newsletter issues on the Web

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