It’s amazing how long it can take to fiddle and tiddle a simple pdf file together and put it up for sale. I must have spent something like 2-3 whole workdays doing it, but now Solar System is available in PDF. It’ll be interesting seeing whether it was worth my while to do this – not that it wasn’t interesting to try to create a screen-optimized layout again after quite a while, but I do have other things I should be doing, too.
Licensing pdf material
One reason for why it took me a while to get that pdf file done was that I got inspired to write a pdf license agreement for our webstore. I also invented a new licensing model for roleplaying game pdf files, one where I’m charging extraorbitant amounts of money from people to allow them to do what they’d be doing anyway. Check it out if you will.
One reason for why I’d have myself rather just avoided the hassle of pdf publishing was that I’m far from my usual confident self when it comes to digital rights. As far as I’m concerned, this is a topic where the society can go many different ways (including torching the servers and returning to the dark ages), but before we do, all culture industry people will have to contort in uncomfortable ways, uncertain of what is feasible and what is right. For now I’m happy putting my stuff out there for others to buy if they want, making it clear that they could get the same stuff for free if they feel like not paying me for my work. Their choice, not mine. Hopefully at some point we’ll either stop creating art for pay, develop a less sieve-like copyright architecture or learn to pay artists for their work without them having to sell art. The current situation is just embarrassing to everybody.
Laying out a pdf file
Creating a screen-readable pdf book is a pain in the ass. The difficult part is that everybody has different monitors, so the layout either needs to underuse the large ones or be difficult for the small ones. In this case I had two extra constraints:
- Solar System is relatively small and sparse in toner-intensive graphics, so it’d be nonsensible to make the layout non-printable. Thus I chose to make the layout in letter size (that funky American paper size) and with font sizes that make it reasonable for printing.
- The above choices mean that the page numbering of individual topics stays 99% of the time the same in between the vertical booklet and the horizontal pdf layout, which is a pretty nice touch.
The end-result is easily readable on my monitor here, but not everybody has DTP-grade widescreen monitors, so who knows what darkness lurks in the future for these production choices. I certainly hope I won’t have to redo the layout, it was enough work the first time around.