Author Topic: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?  (Read 769 times)

Lynn

Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« on: September 27, 2021, 03:50:42 AM »
I'm about to buy this (Atticus), and I was wondering if anyone here has been using it for print editions?

That's the sole reason I'm interested. I already have a good system for my ebooks, and I don't have any reason to change that unless I like Atticus enough for print that it makes sense to try it for my ebooks too.

I wasn't that interested until they came out with the custom theme builder. That's exactly what I want, since I already have "themes" I created for myself to use in Word for each of my series.

Anyway, I'd be really interested to know if you've used it and think it's been helpful with your print books.

Don't rush me.
 

idontknowyet

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2021, 08:38:17 AM »
I've been happy with amazons kindle create so i haven't tried atticus.

I'd probably try amazon to create my pb first before buying a program.

 

Lynn

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2021, 09:33:00 AM »
I think Kindle Create is nice, if you don't mind the in-built themes. I have my own themes that I use for my series that use chapter images and my own fonts, plus I have a certain way I like the page numbering and headers to look. So it doesn't work for me. But if not for that, I'd be pretty happy with it.
Don't rush me.
 

j tanner

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2021, 11:48:06 AM »
They're charging for a BETA?

(I haven't tried it because of that BETA tag. InDesign is kind of high learning curve and always a little clunky. Scrivener is almost unusable in my experience. So I'd be open to a PC "Vellum" that's more of an Easy Button(tm) than what I have now. )
 

idontknowyet

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2021, 01:28:41 PM »
Its a discounted price. Like half of what they plan for full version i think and you get a forever license.
 

alhawke

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2021, 02:26:35 AM »
Resurrecting this thread. I was going to create a new one but discovered it.
Anyone use Atticus yet? I'm set on Vellum out of habit, but this looks interesting. Specifically, I probably would have gone for it if I had never purchased Vellum. I wonder if Vellum will respond by finally making itself available for Windows?
Here's Kindlpreneur's info on their new competing formatting product:
https://kindlepreneur.com/atticus-vs-vellum/
 

Anarchist

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2021, 02:47:28 AM »
Resurrecting this thread. I was going to create a new one but discovered it.
Anyone use Atticus yet? I'm set on Vellum out of habit, but this looks interesting. Specifically, I probably would have gone for it if I had never purchased Vellum. I wonder if Vellum will respond by finally making itself available for Windows?
Here's Kindlpreneur's info on their new competing formatting product:
https://kindlepreneur.com/atticus-vs-vellum/

I bought it this morning out of curiosity. I haven't created an account yet, so I have no insight regarding usability.

FWIW, I'm a longtime, happy Vellum user.
"The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.” – Thomas Sowell

"The State is an institution run by gangs of murderers, plunderers and thieves, surrounded by willing executioners, propagandists, sycophants, crooks, liars, clowns, charlatans, dupes and useful idiots—an institution that dirties and taints everything it touches.” - Hans Hoppe

Nothing that requires the labor of others is a basic human right.

I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 
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Lynn

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2021, 02:53:02 AM »
I picked up a bit of information from another thread starting here: https://writersanctum.com/index.php?topic=4669.msg93423#msg93423
Don't rush me.
 
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Matthew

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2021, 05:04:27 AM »
Resurrecting this thread. I was going to create a new one but discovered it.
Anyone use Atticus yet? I'm set on Vellum out of habit, but this looks interesting. Specifically, I probably would have gone for it if I had never purchased Vellum. I wonder if Vellum will respond by finally making itself available for Windows?
Here's Kindlpreneur's info on their new competing formatting product:
https://kindlepreneur.com/atticus-vs-vellum/
I've dumped some of my thoughts in the thread Lynn already mentioned.

Keep in mind, Kindlepreneur is a product of the same guy who created Atticus. Any review from them is subject to bias. That said, I don't think that article is unfair, but it's mainly information you can already find on Atticus's website.

In my opinion, Atticus rushed out of beta to make it in time for NaNoWriMo. My personal opinion is it should not have been released yet. But here's some of my thoughts, condensed

Pros:
  • Importing Word doc is pretty easy
  • Saves to the cloud for easy cross-platform work
  • Incredibly easy to use, in my opinion. Fast to create pretty books
  • A decent amount of customization can be done, rather than relying entirely on pre-made themes

Cons:
  • Web-based. Even their "offline" mode requires Google Chrome to be installed and the app is installed as a "Progressive Web App"
  • Updates are bad. You have to manually hit a key combo (Ctrl/cmd+shift+r) when the app or website is loaded to make sure you have the latest version. As a former web dev, this is pure laziness on their part.
  • Some severe bugs still in there. Like if you have the downloaded app, your login session will expire after some time and rather than getting a notice you are logged out, the entire app is just blank
  • Creation of ebook/PDF files relies on their servers. In fact, the error message when you try to do it offline tells you the document itself has an error, rather than that you need an internet connection
  • You cannot use custom fonts for ebook or print. They have a number of fonts to choose from, though.
  • The writing features are a joke. They claim they want to be Scrivener, but they aren't close. Basic things like scenes aren't supported. It doesn't even automatically convert quotes to smartquotes. Adding elements like notes is an annoying and confusing process of adding a chapter (or other document type, for which there's no quick button), then manually marking the document to not be included in export.

I think it's still good. It's better than Kindle Create, and honestly, it might already be better than Vellum in some respects. I haven't used Vellum myself though, so take that with a grain of salt.
 
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alhawke

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2021, 07:20:36 AM »
Didn't realize we had another thread going.

Dave from Kindlepreneur has been pretty helpful to me in the past. I trust him. But, obviously, the article I linked is biased being written by the creator.

I don't like web-based. That's the biggest turn off to me. With everything, I'm very anti-cloud. Guess I'm old fashioned. But I don't understand why it can't be completely independent.

I was excited that they got something windows based.
 

Anarchist

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #10 on: October 30, 2021, 08:50:31 AM »
Resurrecting this thread. I was going to create a new one but discovered it.
Anyone use Atticus yet? I'm set on Vellum out of habit, but this looks interesting. Specifically, I probably would have gone for it if I had never purchased Vellum. I wonder if Vellum will respond by finally making itself available for Windows?
Here's Kindlpreneur's info on their new competing formatting product:
https://kindlepreneur.com/atticus-vs-vellum/
I've dumped some of my thoughts in the thread Lynn already mentioned.

Keep in mind, Kindlepreneur is a product of the same guy who created Atticus. Any review from them is subject to bias. That said, I don't think that article is unfair, but it's mainly information you can already find on Atticus's website.

In my opinion, Atticus rushed out of beta to make it in time for NaNoWriMo. My personal opinion is it should not have been released yet. But here's some of my thoughts, condensed

Pros:
  • Importing Word doc is pretty easy
  • Saves to the cloud for easy cross-platform work
  • Incredibly easy to use, in my opinion. Fast to create pretty books
  • A decent amount of customization can be done, rather than relying entirely on pre-made themes

Cons:
  • Web-based. Even their "offline" mode requires Google Chrome to be installed and the app is installed as a "Progressive Web App"
  • Updates are bad. You have to manually hit a key combo (Ctrl/cmd+shift+r) when the app or website is loaded to make sure you have the latest version. As a former web dev, this is pure laziness on their part.
  • Some severe bugs still in there. Like if you have the downloaded app, your login session will expire after some time and rather than getting a notice you are logged out, the entire app is just blank
  • Creation of ebook/PDF files relies on their servers. In fact, the error message when you try to do it offline tells you the document itself has an error, rather than that you need an internet connection
  • You cannot use custom fonts for ebook or print. They have a number of fonts to choose from, though.
  • The writing features are a joke. They claim they want to be Scrivener, but they aren't close. Basic things like scenes aren't supported. It doesn't even automatically convert quotes to smartquotes. Adding elements like notes is an annoying and confusing process of adding a chapter (or other document type, for which there's no quick button), then manually marking the document to not be included in export.

I think it's still good. It's better than Kindle Create, and honestly, it might already be better than Vellum in some respects. I haven't used Vellum myself though, so take that with a grain of salt.

Good list of pros and cons. Saves me some time, so thanks.

I'm hoping Chesson and his team will continue to improve the product and resolve some of the cons you listed along the way.
"The first lesson of economics is scarcity: there is never enough of anything to fully satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.” – Thomas Sowell

"The State is an institution run by gangs of murderers, plunderers and thieves, surrounded by willing executioners, propagandists, sycophants, crooks, liars, clowns, charlatans, dupes and useful idiots—an institution that dirties and taints everything it touches.” - Hans Hoppe

Nothing that requires the labor of others is a basic human right.

I keep a stiff upper lip and shoot from the hip. - AC/DC
 

Matthew

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #11 on: October 30, 2021, 09:53:59 AM »
I'm hoping Chesson and his team will continue to improve the product and resolve some of the cons you listed along the way.
I don't personally use PublisherRocket but it seems that product is still going so I have confidence they're not going to abandon Atticus, for sure.

Well, there are a lot of writing-specific features planned. I personally thought they were going to implement all of those writing features before they launched. We'll see how it goes for them. If you compare Atticus to Scrivener, Scrivener leaves it in the dust. If you compare it to Vellum... that's more like a fair fight. But they basically want Atticus to be Scrivener and Vellum in the same program. That's many months away.

Here's their roadmap: https://www.notion.so/Atticus-Roadmap-58d75fe66e0f40e0a7b39192c2cff6c3

This may provide additional information about features not yet implemented that might be deal-breakers for some, at least in the short term.
 
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Dave MacRae

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2021, 01:18:53 AM »
I am curious if anyone who has used Atticus for a print book could discuss the layout.

I am specifically interested in if it handles orphans and widows. Also, how well it balances spreads, and if any of that can be controlled by the user.

I do not see any mention of these things on the website.

Thanks,
Dave
« Last Edit: November 04, 2021, 01:23:52 AM by Dave MacRae »
 

idontknowyet

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2021, 02:10:01 AM »
I haven't personally used it. but I have several friends on facebook that have redone there entire collections of books on atticus that were previously done on vellum. They say its easy to use and creates a good product. If i don't end up using kindle create, (or having a formatter do those super pretty pictures on all the empty pages) ill try that before vellum.
 

RPatton

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2021, 02:39:20 AM »
I am curious if anyone who has used Atticus for a print book could discuss the layout.

I am specifically interested in if it handles orphans and widows. Also, how well it balances spreads, and if any of that can be controlled by the user.

I do not see any mention of these things on the website.

Thanks,
Dave

I can't say for sure, but my guess it that it eliminates widows and orphans and doesn't bother with squaring the bottoms. From what I saw of Atticus, I think it gives a bit more customization than Vellum, however it will never have the same level as InDesign or Quark. That said, Adobe appears to be slowing down on InDesign and the learning curve is super steep. You could probably create a template in Word that is comparable to something Vellum or Atticus could output, but it has to be nurtured in the beginning and it takes a lot of patience, something we don't always have.

Edited because the samples I saw don't accurately reflect the sample in this thread.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2021, 07:59:51 AM by RPatton »
 

Matthew

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2021, 04:42:07 AM »
I am curious if anyone who has used Atticus for a print book could discuss the layout.

I am specifically interested in if it handles orphans and widows. Also, how well it balances spreads, and if any of that can be controlled by the user.

I do not see any mention of these things on the website.

Thanks,
Dave

You really can't control anything. I think anyone who's serious about print probably won't like Atticus. The output is less satisfactory than if you format it yourself or hire a professional.

I'm also not really much of a print guy so take some of what I say with a grain of salt because I probably don't know what I'm talking about.

Here's a test with my current WIP, 200 print pages.

Runts. Atticus is very prone to runts. There are many in the PDF it produced.


Scene breaks may occur at the bottom...


Or at the top, with no way to customize the behavior. (I'm not sure if there's any sort of industry standard for this, or if formatters ever try to make all scene breaks happen at only the top or only the bottom)


Widows definitely happen. To be honest I forgot to really continue looking for these after I found one, but at least one!


The worst offender: The Runty Widow. Truly an ugly sight to behold.


In my entire 200 pg PDF there were no orphans. I cannot guarantee orphans do not exist, and they very well might given all of the above.
 
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RPatton

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2021, 07:56:43 AM »

You really can't control anything. I think anyone who's serious about print probably won't like Atticus. The output is less satisfactory than if you format it yourself or hire a professional.

I'm also not really much of a print guy so take some of what I say with a grain of salt because I probably don't know what I'm talking about.

Here's a test with my current WIP, 200 print pages.

Ooof. The samples I saw were all without widows or orphans (hence assuming they controlled for that. Perhaps they went with squared bottoms instead?

There are three schools of thought in typesetting.

1) Kill all the widows, orphans, and runts at all costs, squared bottoms be damned.
2) Squared bottoms are the main priority and leave all the widows and orphans (not really a popular school of thought, but I have seen more widows and orphans in traditionally printed books lately).
3) Kill all the widows (widows are single lines at the top of a page, so technically, the widow example isn't really a widow since there are two lines, and technically runts are usually 4-5 characters, so anything over 5 characters isn't considered a runt, at least according to David Blatner who coined the term runt, however that second example is definitely a widow), do your best to kill the orphans, but only if it doesn't jeopardized squared bottoms, and fix all runts as long as it doesn't cause more problems (meaning it's okay to leave a runt behind if it makes the rest of the paragraph worse).

When it comes to scene breaks, the only concern is when spacing is used and not a character or image because it's more difficult to tell scene breaks are happening if it starts on a new page unless there's an additional signal, like a smaller drop or raised cap, or first line formatting.

From what I saw with the images, I'm more concerned with the word spacing and letter kerning than I am with the other faults. It also looks like their line spacing is set to a default instead of set to the typeface. If ai typeface has low descenders and high ascenders, it needs more spacing. I would recommend a few more point sizes in the line spacing (leading). The letter spacing needs to be adjusted too. It's super tight compared to the word spacing, which is really not done well, so I'm wondering how the hyphens are set.

Overall, I don't think I would recommend atticus for print to anyone. You can get a much better looking print book using Word. It might take some time to set up the initial template, but once it's done, it shouldn't take too long to format a book for print. You can even build a template and switch up the typefaces easily enough. (It might take a little tweaking, but shouldn't take too long.)

I'm definitely not a fan of Vellum, for several reasons, but I think the print versions they produce are better than Atticus.
 
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Matthew

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #17 on: November 05, 2021, 09:58:59 AM »
the widow example isn't really a widow since there are two lines, and technically runts are usually 4-5 characters
Thanks! I'm new to print but trying to learn more about it.

From what I saw with the images, I'm more concerned with the word spacing and letter kerning than I am with the other faults.
Word spacing is down to being justified. I don't see any real problem with it. The kerning is not great, in my opinion. I'm sure you can already see problems with the previous examples. Here's a zoomed in look (right click the image and open it in a new tab) with some particularly egregious parts highlighted, if anyone's unfamiliar with the concept. You could say the entire thing is badly kerned. I have no experience (yet) fixing such a problem



It also looks like their line spacing is set to a default instead of set to the typeface. If ai typeface has low descenders and high ascenders, it needs more spacing. I would recommend a few more point sizes in the line spacing (leading). The letter spacing needs to be adjusted too. It's super tight compared to the word spacing, which is really not done well, so I'm wondering how the hyphens are set.
You can control line spacing, to a very limited degree. In the entire PDF I did not see Atticus as having done any hyphenation whatsoever. It will break at hyphens if they are there in the text; e.g. in the above image I have typed "adrenaline-filled" and it automatically broke at the hyphen.

Here's the full set of print settings they give you, since I'm bored...




Overall, I don't think I would recommend atticus for print to anyone. You can get a much better looking print book using Word. It might take some time to set up the initial template, but once it's done, it shouldn't take too long to format a book for print. You can even build a template and switch up the typefaces easily enough. (It might take a little tweaking, but shouldn't take too long.)

I'm definitely not a fan of Vellum, for several reasons, but I think the print versions they produce are better than Atticus.
Yeah I'm kinda just getting interested in print lately, and my feeling was to try out Word or Affinity Publisher. I mean, obviously it would be fantastic to have a tool that can more or less create the entire book in 1-click but it seems like we don't yet have the technology.
 

Lynn

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #18 on: November 05, 2021, 10:25:16 AM »
I went back to my Libreoffice Writer (Word alternative, original was made in Word, tbh) template that I created and it took less than 15 minutes to get a basic paperback out of it. I spent another hour or so scouring it for hyphenation and widow / orphan issues.

I used to be picky about squared bottoms but decided one day that the profit just didn't support worrying about it any longer. (Creating them takes *a lot* longer.)

I use Libreoffice these days where I can tell it to get rid of single lines at the top but don't worry about the first lines at the bottom (I'm not going to say widows or orphans because I swear every program calls one or the other the wrong thing). I also tell it not to leave 2 characters after hyphens, and add all proper names as custom dictionary entries that won't hyphenate. Then I get rid of runts that look bad, and l try to limit how many unequal spreads I have, but I allow some pages to stay shorter than others when necessary.

After that, it's just a waste of time for me to do much else. The profit motive isn't there, and I don't personally care about much else when it comes to how the pages look. But I am picky about hyphenation and the single lines at the top of pages so that matters to me when looking for software to do it for me, same for custom font choices.

I was surprised that I had inflated in my head the amount of time this all took me. I had two paperbacks ready in just a few hours of somewhat tedious work.

As a side note, Libreoffice Writer displays the font uglier than it outputs it to PDF. I've printed paperbacks from both Writer and Word files and the text is pretty much identical as far as I can see. However, on the screen, it does look different. But print is for print, so I don't really care how it looks (kerning and the like) on the screen. :)
Don't rush me.
 

RPatton

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #19 on: November 05, 2021, 02:41:24 PM »
Thanks! I'm new to print but trying to learn more about it.

Watch out, it's addictive. For me, formatting is kind of zen. I can spend hours tweaking a book if I'm not careful. I use InDesign, but I also generate both an epub and a PDF from the same file(s). It took me a long time to get my templates just right and tweaking my CSS and styles, but now, I can import my MS into my template and take about an 90-100 minutes to do both the epub and print versions. Not as quick as Vellum (or Atticus), but I get exactly the look I want for both versions without having to compromise.

My goal is to create a print book that is indecipherable from a traditionally published trade paperback, and I think I'm successful.


Word spacing is down to being justified. I don't see any real problem with it. The kerning is not great, in my opinion. I'm sure you can already see problems with the previous examples. Here's a zoomed in look (right click the image and open it in a new tab) with some particularly egregious parts highlighted, if anyone's unfamiliar with the concept. You could say the entire thing is badly kerned. I have no experience (yet) fixing such a problem



So this is probably a deeper dive than you wanted to go, but the word spacing is the space between each word adjusted for text alignment (left, right, center, or justified). Both Word and InDesign (although, I'm sure the other programs are similar) will adjust the spacing between each word relative to the paragraph itself and not individual lines.

In the above image, look at the spacing between each word on the second and third line,it's drastically different. For a reader, it will cause their brains to double check the spacing because it's so different. While a reader probably won't put the book down, they might be unlikely to pick it back up and won't really know why. Just that there's this weird discomfort they can't put their finger on when reading.

As far as the kerning goes, it's really a font issue. Libre Baskerville was developed for screens, not print. (Same with Georgia. If anyone recommends Georgia as a good typeface for a print book, ignore everything else they have to say because it is anything but a good typeface for print books.) Not only is it better for screens, but it really doesn't have any place in large bodies of text. Chapter headings? Good to go. Running heads? Eh, not so bad. But it really shouldn't be used in print books and it shouldn't be an option. My guess is they wanted an OFL Baskerville and figured Libre was good. They would have been better off grabbing Alegreya or Ghandi. Both are available through an open license and designed specifically for print and have a similar feel to Baskerville. Rosarivo is probably another good free option, but it requires a lot of space between lines and doesn't have a bold. But any of those three will be better than Libre Baskerville (which, frankly, has no business being an option for print books because it was never designed for print!)

You can control line spacing, to a very limited degree. In the entire PDF I did not see Atticus as having done any hyphenation whatsoever. It will break at hyphens if they are there in the text; e.g. in the above image I have typed "adrenaline-filled" and it automatically broke at the hyphen.

Here's the full set of print settings they give you, since I'm bored...



Nope nope nope nope nope. And just for good measure. Nope again. In print, unlike a term paper or manuscript, line spacing should be determined by the typeface and set at an exact measurement. Not the one and a half, double, or whatever the hell else they have as an option. (And they shouldn't even have double as an option. No way, no how.) To add insult to injury, they don't even have 120% (or 1.2) which is typically the default starting point for line spacing. While it's not always the best option, it is rarely ever the worst.

I wasn't going to get going on the font size, but the fact you can't choose a half point is problematic. Dropping a font down half a point can cut down on the page count and is a much better fix than adjusting the margin. I also noticed you couldn't adjust the top and bottom margins so you are stuck with what they decide works best and considering all the other options, I don't trust it.

As for hyphens? If you can't control for hyphens, no wonder the page looks like crap. Hyphens is what allows justified text to work. Eliminating hyphens is just bad form. You can adjust the rules for hyphens (I like using a minimum of 7 letters, after at least 3 letters, and before at least three letters) in Word to a limited extent and in every desktop publisher.

Yeah I'm kinda just getting interested in print lately, and my feeling was to try out Word or Affinity Publisher. I mean, obviously it would be fantastic to have a tool that can more or less create the entire book in 1-click but it seems like we don't yet have the technology.

We don't have the technology for 1-click yet, and that's because book design for print is a combination of science and art in equal parts and a program just cannot adjust the same way a designer can. You have to know when to throw convention out the door because convention isn't working. And general rule of thumb is that the default is almost always never the best option, or even a good option. Defaults are usually just an okay option.

Seeing your examples, I honestly think a monkey would do a better job setting a book for print just by sitting them at the computer and letting them bang away at the keyboard.

Here's a free template for Word https://usedtotech.com/books/5-25-x-8-template-of-book-in-word-for-printing/ It has a lot of problems at first glance (first-line indent is too much, the typeface isn't a good choice really, the bottoms are just wonky as all get out, and there's no reason to have a space between paragraphs), and yet it still looks better than the page from Atticus.

Or you could grab a template from https://www.bookdesigntemplates.com/#all (I think they're about $120, but it's covers both ebooks and print and works in just about any word processor plus InDesign) and then further customize it, but most of the heavy work has already been done for you. This is a better option than Vellum or Atticus, but it might not be as speedy.

If you want to give Affinity Publisher a go, drop me a PM, I might have something that will help you out at the start.

Either way, prepare yourself for a typeface addiction. I used to recommend DesignCuts because they had some brilliant bundles with an amazing license (you can embed the font file in an epub), but I haven't seen a bundle with a strong serif in a long time. So, to get started, look for Alegreya (it's free and a pro version), Gandhi, or Rosarivo. All are free and will do well in a print book, especially if you are trying Affinity.

After that, it's just a waste of time for me to do much else. The profit motive isn't there, and I don't personally care about much else when it comes to how the pages look. But I am picky about hyphenation and the single lines at the top of pages so that matters to me when looking for software to do it for me, same for custom font choices.

I was surprised that I had inflated in my head the amount of time this all took me. I had two paperbacks ready in just a few hours of somewhat tedious work.

The hard and long part is setting up that template. Once you get it done, popping your MS into your template shouldn't take much time at all.

I have no idea if it's possible in LibreWriter or Word or a word processor, but you sometimes tweak things by adjusting the text area (bottom margin) of a spread. It's not noticeable as long as it doesn't occur on every other page and can fix errors that seem to have no fix in sight and only make things worse.
 
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Lynn

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #20 on: November 05, 2021, 11:39:14 PM »
Libreoffice has page styles, similar to master pages in InDesign, really, and you can apply a different page style to every page in a book if you want. I wouldn't, but I'd say it is possible. :)
Don't rush me.
 

RPatton

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #21 on: November 06, 2021, 03:30:24 AM »
Libreoffice has page styles, similar to master pages in InDesign, really, and you can apply a different page style to every page in a book if you want. I wouldn't, but I'd say it is possible. :)

Seriously?

I am slightly gobsmacked that Atticus went out the way it did. From the samples I saw and the people I spoke with, I thought it put out a print books at a much higher quality than I am seeing right now.

If Libreoffice has page styles then it's definitely a step up from Word (I'll have to play with it) and could be the way to go if Scribus, Affinitiy, or InDesign has too steep a learning curve or other obstacles preventing someone from using desktop publishing software. I just downloaded it, so I will definitely play around and with it.

I was hoping Atticus would be the Vellum equivalent for Windows, but it might actually be worse than Vellum (Vellum's not bad, but it's not good either, it puts out the equivalent of a McDonalds hamburger). I'm perplexed on why Atticus doesn't allow for hyphens... you can't have justified text without hyphens, you just can't. Which makes me wonder if anyone on the team has actually formatted a book for print or even spent a cursory 10 minutes doing a few searches on formatting a book for print. I'm also concerned that they didn't go with the default line spacing of 120% (1.2) and why they picked typefaces that have no business being part of a print book.

I just looked at the capability grid for Atticus and I would definitely re-evaluate the capability matrix. They claim the capability of Atticus to be medium, which is the same as Word and Word has a way higher level of capability than Atticus. Same with Scrivener. I might not like the output, but at least I have better control. Atticus has several options, but they are not good options and not even the right options to offer for a print book. They actually recommend 1" margins all around! That's an even bigger no than the no hyphens with justified text.

And the more I read, the worse it gets. Okay, I need to walk away before I get too critical about the end product. And I have no idea why I am so spun up about this, but I just am.

I have an idea, but I need some help. Is someone available to format The Great Gatsby since it's in the public domain in Atticus and Vellum?

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/64317/64317-h/64317-h.htm






 
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Matthew

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #22 on: November 06, 2021, 04:04:55 AM »
So this is probably a deeper dive than you wanted to go, but the word spacing is the space between each word adjusted for text alignment (left, right, center, or justified). Both Word and InDesign (although, I'm sure the other programs are similar) will adjust the spacing between each word relative to the paragraph itself and not individual lines.

In the above image, look at the spacing between each word on the second and third line,it's drastically different. For a reader, it will cause their brains to double check the spacing because it's so different. While a reader probably won't put the book down, they might be unlikely to pick it back up and won't really know why. Just that there's this weird discomfort they can't put their finger on when reading.
Fascinating, I'll look more into this.

As far as the kerning goes, it's really a font issue. Libre Baskerville was developed for screens, not print.
To be fair, their default font is actually EB Garamond. I wanted to try Libre Baskerville since I knew I could obtain it for my personal computer to use it for comparison. But if what you're saying is it's not meant for print, I truly have no idea why they put that font into their print font selector.


Nope nope nope nope nope. And just for good measure. Nope again. In print, unlike a term paper or manuscript, line spacing should be determined by the typeface and set at an exact measurement. Not the one and a half, double, or whatever the hell else they have as an option. (And they shouldn't even have double as an option. No way, no how.) To add insult to injury, they don't even have 120% (or 1.2) which is typically the default starting point for line spacing. While it's not always the best option, it is rarely ever the worst.

I wasn't going to get going on the font size, but the fact you can't choose a half point is problematic. Dropping a font down half a point can cut down on the page count and is a much better fix than adjusting the margin. I also noticed you couldn't adjust the top and bottom margins so you are stuck with what they decide works best and considering all the other options, I don't trust it.

As for hyphens? If you can't control for hyphens, no wonder the page looks like crap. Hyphens is what allows justified text to work. Eliminating hyphens is just bad form. You can adjust the rules for hyphens (I like using a minimum of 7 letters, after at least 3 letters, and before at least three letters) in Word to a limited extent and in every desktop publisher.
Also very good information. To be honest, most print formatting information out there is severely lacking. I haven't found a comprehensive resource. I'm just sort of piecing things together :)

By the way, regarding hyphenation - perhaps it's just not as popular for print these days? KDP's own print templates for Word do not have hyphenation enabled, and the paragraphs are justified.

The hard and long part is setting up that template. Once you get it done, popping your MS into your template shouldn't take much time at all.
I think this is the case for any software. Of course, IMO the problem with print formatting is you might want your books to be formatted significantly differently for a different series, or whatnot. Though most changes I don't think would be too difficult to make once you kind of have all of your master pages / templates setup.
 

j tanner

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #23 on: November 06, 2021, 04:51:52 AM »
To be honest, most print formatting information out there is severely lacking. I haven't found a comprehensive resource. I'm just sort of piecing things together :)

Start here:
https://practicaltypography.com/

Quote
KDP's own print templates for Word do not have hyphenation enabled, and the paragraphs are justified.

Typography is (sadly) one of the lowest priorities for the Kindle team. They rectified it slightly with the enhanced typesetting but failed to correct some of the biggest weaknesses. It's possible to make ebooks look pretty great by default on Kindle, and they haven't bothered. They think a fancy drop-cap is what makes a page look nice.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2021, 04:58:17 AM by j tanner »
 
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Matthew

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #24 on: November 06, 2021, 05:54:32 AM »
Is someone available to format The Great Gatsby since it's in the public domain in Atticus and Vellum?

https://www.gutenberg.org/files/64317/64317-h/64317-h.htm
I can't promise I did the best job, but I formatted it with Atticus. I kept most of the formatting simple-ish. (Atticus could also use some more fleurons).

https://matthews.world/Gatsby.pdf

I don't have Vellum so you'll have to find a different volunteer there  :cool:

Things like blockquotes and verse provide basically no formatting options (So, e.g. the epigraph looks wonky). It doesn't appear that Atticus supports tables at all, so there's a section in Chapter IX that looks ugly that I didn't bother to try to format different.

General settings used:

Trim size: 5x8

Font (default): EB Garamond, Justified, 10pt

Margins (default): 0.875 in inside 0.5 in outside

Line spacing: 1.25


Edit:
Things to maybe look at:
pg 69 it split that baby right down the middle.

pg 51,88 widow (there's more but I stopped looking)

pg 127 where I didn't even try to format the table

Across the board letter spacing continues to be an issue.

Runts. pg 11 and 14 might be considered to have some, but the sentences are quite short. pg 16 may be considered a runt as well, more egregious with such a chunky paragraph.

I didn't see any orphans in here either.

Well, have a poke around
« Last Edit: November 06, 2021, 06:19:27 AM by Matthew »
 
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Lynn

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #25 on: November 06, 2021, 11:40:52 AM »
I downloaded scribus today to give it another shot now that I am more comfortable with page styles and things like that. I had previously tried scribus before I started using LibreOffice writer.

I watched a few YouTube videos at 1.75 speed :D today and honestly it looks like the setup is going to be almost identical to the setup that I did for my Writer template. Since it has more fine controls for text, I may give it a shot. However, writer does allow me to expand and contract letter spacing and I use that fairly regularly so I don't really know how much more control I'll have, but I do like the layout options so we shall see.

In Writer, I created right and left pages, copyright page, inner and outer pages, and a title page style, and use those for my print books.
« Last Edit: November 06, 2021, 11:43:32 AM by Lynn »
Don't rush me.
 

RPatton

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #26 on: November 06, 2021, 12:27:22 PM »
I downloaded scribus today to give it another shot now that I am more comfortable with page styles and things like that. I had previously tried scribus before I started using LibreOffice writer.

I watched a few YouTube videos at 1.75 speed :D today and honestly it looks like the setup is going to be almost identical to the setup that I did for my Writer template. Since it has more fine controls for text, I may give it a shot. However, writer does allow me to expand and contract letter spacing and I use that fairly regularly so I don't really know how much more control I'll have, but I do like the layout options so we shall see.

In Writer, I created right and left pages, copyright page, inner and outer pages, and a title page style, and use those for my print books.

That's similar to Scribus, Affinity, and InDesign. I use three master pages, Front Matter, Body, and Back Matter (page numbering and running heads are treated slightly different), then I rely heavily on paragraph and character styles.

I recommend creating a single "Master Paragraph" Style (I call mine H&J Settings) and basing all your styles on it. That way, if you change that Master Style, all the other styles will adopt those changes. This makes it super easy to drastically change a template - switch typefaces, font size, leading, or any other paragraph rules and it will roll out to all the other styles. There might be a few tweaks you'll have to make, but it's not like you're starting at the beginning.
 

RPatton

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #27 on: November 06, 2021, 12:32:21 PM »

I can't promise I did the best job, but I formatted it with Atticus. I kept most of the formatting simple-ish. (Atticus could also use some more fleurons).

Thank you so much for this. I want to put something together comparing the different options and sort of ranking them in an as unbiased way as possible.

If anyone has access to Vellum, I would be grateful for a Great Gatsby PDF for print. :)
 

Lynn

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #28 on: November 06, 2021, 03:01:08 PM »
That's similar to Scribus, Affinity, and InDesign. I use three master pages, Front Matter, Body, and Back Matter (page numbering and running heads are treated slightly different), then I rely heavily on paragraph and character styles.

I recommend creating a single "Master Paragraph" Style (I call mine H&J Settings) and basing all your styles on it. That way, if you change that Master Style, all the other styles will adopt those changes. This makes it super easy to drastically change a template - switch typefaces, font size, leading, or any other paragraph rules and it will roll out to all the other styles. There might be a few tweaks you'll have to make, but it's not like you're starting at the beginning.

Sounds like we have similar thoughts when it comes to styles. I use them for everything. I have a style based off the default called "book" and all my custom styles fall under it. I don't use most of the inbuilt styles at all. I use one leading and font setup for drafting, then change it when I get ready to actually make a book :D

One reason I use specific page styles for the different parts is so that I have very fine control over them. Especially which pages get page numbers and running heads and which don't. I don't number chapter title pages or include any headers. I also have specific layouts I like for my copyright page and my half-title page. I don't like to depend on direct formatting so I don't use it, and I don't use blank lines to space text. I do all my formatting with page, paragraph, and character styles. :)
« Last Edit: November 06, 2021, 03:07:54 PM by Lynn »
Don't rush me.
 

Dave MacRae

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #29 on: November 06, 2021, 03:30:09 PM »
I did this in Vellum quickly. I just cut and paste and did not really check it very well. It looks like there was a mistake in ch. 9. It took about 10 minutes.

Dave

https://pdfhost.io/v/01rMNKzEB_The_Great_Gatsby

p.s. I forgot the trim size is 5.25x8 - inside margin .875 - outside "auto" - Font size and line spacing were left on default. (They are adjustable with sliders, but does not show exact numbers.) -  font is: Adobe Garamond Pro (Vellum has a number of typefaces built in but if you have Adobe Garamond installed on your machine you can use that, which I do.)

« Last Edit: November 06, 2021, 06:08:25 PM by Dave MacRae »
 
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R. C.

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Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #30 on: November 06, 2021, 11:11:21 PM »
I've not followed this thread because I was unaware of Atticus and have enough on my plate.

Last evening, thumbing through the YouTubes, Dave Chesson popped up with the ten minute AD for Atticus.

I found it interesting, maybe the new tool has merit.

Of those who have tried Atticus, what are your impressions?

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RPatton

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #31 on: November 07, 2021, 07:25:44 AM »
I did this in Vellum quickly. I just cut and paste and did not really check it very well. It looks like there was a mistake in ch. 9. It took about 10 minutes.

Dave

https://pdfhost.io/v/01rMNKzEB_The_Great_Gatsby

p.s. I forgot the trim size is 5.25x8 - inside margin .875 - outside "auto" - Font size and line spacing were left on default. (They are adjustable with sliders, but does not show exact numbers.) -  font is: Adobe Garamond Pro (Vellum has a number of typefaces built in but if you have Adobe Garamond installed on your machine you can use that, which I do.)

Brilliant! Thanks so much. To be honest, I'm less worried about orphans than widows. (I use CMoS standards, Orphans single lines at bottom of page, and widows are single lines at top of page - orphans are left behind and widows walk alone.) My question is how to page actually looks. The spacing with Atticius is... well, I'd call it a choice, but it's not. Vellum's spacing is better, but it still has some glaring spots.
 

RPatton

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #32 on: November 07, 2021, 07:26:56 AM »
I've not followed this thread because I was unaware of Atticus and have enough on my plate.

Last evening, thumbing through the YouTubes, Dave Chesson popped up with the ten minute AD for Atticus.

I found it interesting, maybe the new tool has merit.

Of those who have tried Atticus, what are your impressions?

R.C.

There aren't many who have tried it, but some of the posts cover first impressions, including criticisms.
 
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Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #33 on: November 07, 2021, 09:00:59 AM »
...
There aren't many who have tried it, but some of the posts cover first impressions, including criticisms.

Arg, apologies. I scrolled too fast and missed the reviews.

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RPatton

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #34 on: November 07, 2021, 10:13:24 AM »
I wanted to bring up EB Garamond, because while it's a genuinely amazing free typeface, it has some caveats.

The first is the version on Google is outdated. I am fairly sure the version Atticus uses (and Vellum, if Vellum uses EB Garamond) is from Google. Why? Because Google has a bold and the latest version is lacking a bold. (There's a good reason the latest version is lacking a bold - it needs a lot more work and Duffner isn't getting paid for his design or isn't currently getting paid to spend more time on it to make sure the glyphs work the way they should.) Also, when I set a page with EB Garamond (using a trim size of 5.25 x 8 and probably .70 inside and .60 outside margins (honestly not sure), I went with 10/13. That means a font size of ten points with a leading of 13 pts or what comes down to 130% or 1.3. Looking at my sample, 1.25 is probably going to be too tight and 1.5 is going to be way too loose.

When I set Stempel Garamond, I went with 11/13.6 and used the same setting for Garamond Premiere Pro. So, again, using Atticus, you'd either have to go with 1.25 (much too tight) or 1.5 (too loose).

This is what Garamond is like on a page and I think it shows how important line spacing (leading) is. To only be limited to a few options can mean the difference between a yucky page and a decent page. (Sound quality's not great on the video, so head's up.) Go to 7:10 where the Garamond part starts (I tried to set the time and it's not showing it right - sorry.)



If the goal was to create a software that would deliver a sound PDF for print, I think it's safe to say that Atticus completely missed the mark. The epubs might be great, however, so keep that in mind. (Although, now I really want to see an Atticus Epub and crack it open.)

 

Matthew

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #35 on: November 07, 2021, 11:00:28 AM »
(Although, now I really want to see an Atticus Epub and crack it open.)
https://matthews.world/Gatsby.epub

Same formatting as the print edition posted earlier. It may be interesting to try different formatting such as drop cap or small caps leads, and chapter heading images.

The main CSS file to be honest looks quite weird. The indentation is messed up. Comments are left in. Hyphenation is not explicitly defined but looks like it lets the reader choose. What I did find interesting was that it embedded fonts. I played around some more and discovered that it doesn't appear you can change the body font, but if you create a custom theme and select a different font for e.g. the chapter title, it will be embedded in the epub. Also it just sets some orphan and widow properties and lets the ereader handle it.

Anyway I haven't tried publishing an Atticus book through KDP yet. I converted the book from epub to mobi through Calibre to put on my Kindle (it's weird that the devices themselves don't directly support epub yet). The chapter headings have incorrect spacing, and the body text does not appear to automatically hyphenate like other Kindle titles. It's hard to say if this is a CSS issue or if it's a Calibre conversion issue.
 

RPatton

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #36 on: November 07, 2021, 05:02:51 PM »
https://matthews.world/Gatsby.epub

Same formatting as the print edition posted earlier. It may be interesting to try different formatting such as drop cap or small caps leads, and chapter heading images.

The main CSS file to be honest looks quite weird. The indentation is messed up. Comments are left in. Hyphenation is not explicitly defined but looks like it lets the reader choose. What I did find interesting was that it embedded fonts. I played around some more and discovered that it doesn't appear you can change the body font, but if you create a custom theme and select a different font for e.g. the chapter title, it will be embedded in the epub. Also it just sets some orphan and widow properties and lets the ereader handle it.

Anyway I haven't tried publishing an Atticus book through KDP yet. I converted the book from epub to mobi through Calibre to put on my Kindle (it's weird that the devices themselves don't directly support epub yet). The chapter headings have incorrect spacing, and the body text does not appear to automatically hyphenate like other Kindle titles. It's hard to say if this is a CSS issue or if it's a Calibre conversion issue.



Not only is that an ugly CSS, but that's an ugly ebook.

I cracked it open in Sigil and while I am sure there is a reason for the choices they made, I just don't see them. At all.

For whatever reason PT Sans is the default font and courier is in there too.

First paragraph and chapter heading....

Quick note: I broke these lines up, in the HTML file (which isn't even named well), it's one continuous line.
Code: [Select]
<div class="atreides">
<div class="chapter withDropcap" id="undefined">
<div class="chapter-title-card center ">
<div class="chapter-title">
<h2>III</h2>
</div>
</div>
<div class="chapter-body">
<div class="wrapper">
<p><span aria-hidden="true" class="dropcap">T</span><span aria-hidden="true" class="lead_word">here</span> <span aria-hidden="true" class="lead_word">was</span> <span aria-hidden="true" class="lead_word">music</span> <span aria-hidden="true" class="lead_word">from</span> my neighbour&#x2019;s house through the summer nights. In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars. At high tide in the afternoon I watched his guests diving from the tower of his raft, or taking the sun on the hot sand of his beach while his two motorboats slit the waters of the Sound, drawing aquaplanes over cataracts of foam. On weekends his Rolls-Royce became an omnibus, bearing parties to and from the city between nine in the morning and long past midnight, while his station wagon scampered like a brisk yellow bug to meet all trains. And on Mondays eight servants, including an extra gardener, toiled all day with mops and scrubbing-brushes and hammers and garden-shears, repairing the ravages of the night before.</p>

That's just sloppy. Plus the CSS is convoluted and that's the best I can say about.

As much bloat as Vellum has, I don't remember their epubs as being this sloppy. And now, I'm doubly angry because I'm praising Vellum.

As near as I can tell (keeping in mind that I am not the one generating these files), I wouldn'r recommend Atticus to anyone. I was hopeful the epubs would be better, but what I'm seeing is just yucky. I suppose if it's only available on Amazon, the ebook will look better because Amazon takes a gnarly epub and smooshes it into their concept. However, if you are wide, I wouldn't want to put any of these files up.

https://imgur.com/a/n5XRcl2
« Last Edit: November 07, 2021, 05:11:06 PM by RPatton »
 

Matthew

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #37 on: November 07, 2021, 09:20:55 PM »
It's hard to say, to be honest. Actual book readers never see the code files so some part of me is like "who cares" so long as it looks nice.

But regarding weird code things...
There appears to be a lot of cruft.
E.g. in the chapter files, there's html:
Code: [Select]
<div class="chapter-title">But that class is never defined in the CSS; the selector that defines the chapter title style is "chapter-title-card" h2.

There's a similar, but reverse issue where there seems to be extra CSS that's unused
Code: [Select]
.atreides .title-card{
  font-family: Roboto-Regular;
  display: flex;
  flex-direction: column
}
The font-family chosen is actually set by "title-card" headings (h1/h2) directly later in the file, and the same with publisher-details.

I'm having a heck of a time trying to figure out how to get an actual preview on a Kindle device. I'm convinced it's not possible. Converting the epub to mobi with Kindle Previewer fixes some issues and introduces others.

Inside Kindle Previewer itself, most things look fine (including hyphenation, which isn't present in the exported mobi when viewed on a device... but this is probably because the mobi doesn't support "enhanced typesetting"?).

There's inconsistencies in how Atticus formats things for you. E.g., in print the dedication is automatically centered, in the epub, it is not. In both if you want it italicized you must mark it so manually.

To be honest I think the epigraph looking ugly is "my" fault -- I formatted it as "verse" which seems to be horribly constrained horizontally. Even in the other sections of the book where I used verse, it's ugly. I think they have some work to do there...

Regarding fonts:
In Atticus, as part of the normal formatting options, you can select any text in a paragraph and manually mark it as monospaced or sans-serif. But, to be honest, I'm not sure why those fonts are included in an epub. Surely the epub ereader will have a monospace and sans-serif font available. To me this is incredibly strange for the simple fact that the main body text does not also have an embedded font. My personal preference would be for only the headings to have embedded fonts included by default, since there is no way within Atticus to specify a body font or override the monospace/sans-serif fonts.

Anyway, regarding the others:
Crushed-Regular is from the "Atreides" theme and applies to the title page/chapter title. Roboto is used for the author and publisher names on the title page.
These are different for each theme and can be customized (with a selector for only their fonts)

The problem for me at least, is that Kindle does ignore your custom fonts, even for headings. So if you truly want e.g. a script font used for chapter titles, you would have to have it saved as an image.

edit:
I think for the epub formatting they should choose either maximum efficiency ("minifying" the css, html, etc.) or maximum readability. Right now it's somewhere in between. Regarding chapter names: I understand how annoying that is, though a dedicated tool like Sigil makes that not too bad since the TOC is functional. The file names are the exact names Atticus uses internally to reference those documents. I presume they are unique across the entirety of Atticus users, otherwise I'm not sure why they wouldn't simply name it "chapter1.xhtml"
« Last Edit: November 07, 2021, 09:29:22 PM by Matthew »
 

RPatton

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #38 on: November 08, 2021, 01:28:47 AM »
Check the imgur link I posted.

It's a screenshot of Sigil and you can see the ebook as I see it, and as most ereaders see it, before it goes through whatever compiler a storefront uses.

The CSS is ugly, the HTML is ugly, and the ebook itself is ugly.
 

Matthew

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #39 on: November 08, 2021, 02:52:00 AM »
the ebook itself is ugly.
It's bland formatting. The only ugly part about it is that it has no margins. (this is my opinion, feel free to tell me what else you see) The ornamental scene breaks are also rather low-resolution.

...keep in mind I only have Kindle devices.

So the problem is, in my mind, that Amazon does what it wants. If you specify say, a margin-left/margin-right of 2em so the reading experience is more pleasant in Sigil or Calibre, it looks poor on Kindles since they already have their own margin (of what looks to be 1em). As a further note, Amazon recommends left/right margins in % if you add them at all.

Though Amazon has specific recommendations for that (https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/GH4DRT75GWWAGBTU)
"Always set left and right margins to 0 for normal body text to allow users the full range of margin selection using device defaults"

Is there any use fighting the 'Zon? How can you make an epub that both supportts Kindle and other devices? IIRC even Vellum's exporter differentiates between the Kindle and "generic" epub.

If you think a lack of hyphenation, the body typeface, or widow/orphan control are a problem - that's down to the ebook reader (so far as I can tell).

Atticus so far really has 2 problems with Kindle compatibility:
1) Specifying font sizes in px breaks things miserably (the Kindle will not use a custom font, and pretty much all formatting e.g. font size will be ignored)

2) The body text does, for some reason, appear to be PTSans. Amazon says to avoid setting a font for the body text. Atticus does not. Yet for some reason the Kindle still uses a sans-serif font (at the least), but probably PTSans - since on my Kindle it was displaying as "Baskerville" as the selected font. You can go against Amazon and do something like say
Code: [Select]
.chapter-body p {
      font-family: serif;
    }
... which seems to sort of work (but this adds the note that the font is a Publisher font, upon which you can change to e.g. Baskerville - but that also overrides all the heading-specific fonts as well). Basically, I would like to know how can the CSS further be fixed so that headings use the custom fonts like Crushed / Roboto, but the main body text uses the Kindle default like Baskerville. Is it even possible?  :dizzy

I found this snippet from Amazon (https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/GGRXLC5USU4H67YM):
"Note: Amazon no longer recommends sideloading eBooks to devices for testing, because sideloading does not provide an accurate preview of Enhanced Typesetting features. "

Thanks for nothing!

I'm trying to collect the problems (and solutions, if we can) for the epubs so I can send them into support and hopefully get Atticus at least competent at ebooks, even if print may be forever out of its reach.

- BY the way, a new discovery: Atticus print line spacing can be set in units of 0.05. The slider is misleading. It's still not great but a bit better than I thought before. The font size still only supports units of 1.
« Last Edit: November 08, 2021, 04:33:50 AM by Matthew »
 

RPatton

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #40 on: November 08, 2021, 05:54:27 AM »

... which seems to sort of work (but this adds the note that the font is a Publisher font, upon which you can change to e.g. Baskerville - but that also overrides all the heading-specific fonts as well). Basically, I would like to know how can the CSS further be fixed so that headings use the custom fonts like Crushed / Roboto, but the main body text uses the Kindle default like Baskerville. Is it even possible?  :dizzy

Yes and no.

First, the default typeface for Kindle devices is Bookerly. They commissioned Dalton Maag and Bookerly came into existence. (Bookerly is a brilliant typeface, by the way, designed from the beginning to mimic print, but work on screens, specifically e-ink screens, but also with the app. There is honestly no reason to not use Amazon's default typeface, because it is phenomenal. It has great kerning and beautiful ligatures. So stick with Bookerly, there are very few typesfaces capable of doing what Bookerly does and all of them come from Teff and are so pricey, it's not worth it unless you have someone willing to shell out a few grand for what are truly beautiful typefaces (Trinité is designed so it doesn't use ligatures, the kerning pairs create the ligatures. Truly beautiful typefaces). It's like if Garamond and Baskerville had a baby and Trinite watched from the sidelines giving random suggestions.

If Amazon made Bookerly available, I would consider using it in print books and have no problems recommending others use it. I got a copy of the typeface to experiment with (I would never actually use it because it's a commercial font licensed to Amazon and only Amazon) and it works as well in print as in digital. (I wouldn't recommend it for a webpage however.)

So, back to your question about making typefaces embed for chapter headings.

Short answer, you can't. Not for a kindle device. It will embed and work with a Fire or App, but not on an actual Kindle device. Long answer, create an image for each chapter heading. This is super easy in InDeign, I just create the chapter heading as normal, then export the text box as an image. (It's how I create title pages.)

This is what I use in my CSS, however it is set so that the text overlays the image (I use margins to make it work), but I can't get it to work on a Kindle device to save my life, so I just don't really care. I use the Chapter Image, then the chapter head, then whatever other info I am including. Overall, the feel is similar enough to what I want, and doesn't require a lot of work. I also tag my chapters as h1.

Code: [Select]
.chap-head {
font-family : "retipuj", decorative;
font-size : 1.5em;
line-height : inherit;
margin-bottom : 2.5em;
text-align : center;
margin-top : 0em;
}

In epubs, you want hyphens, and you want the device to handle hyphens. The only place you want to suppress hyphens is in headings, so I have two parts in my CSS to handle it (I don't care about widows and orphans because epubs reflow even if the settings stay the same, you might not always see the same page. To make it adjust according to widows and orphans just adds more complication than I really think is worth the effort, but it is possible.

This is the code for hyphens. Auto or none are the options. If I set it in a heading, I set the hyphen control to none. If it's part of the page settings, I use auto. (H1 and H2 will override the page settings to use none if this is in place.)
Code: [Select]
h1, h2 {
    -webkit-hyphens: none;
    -moz-hyphens: none;
    -ms-hyphens: none;
    -epub-hyphens: none;
    }

I don't use drop caps in ebooks because you have to include floats and then consider multiple devices. It becomes more complex than necessary when a raised cap has a similar effect and doesn't need as many overrides and will never go pear-shaped.

Code: [Select]
.raised {
font-family: "retipuj", serif;
font-size: 3em;
line-height: 0em;
}
@media amzn-kf8 {
  .raised {
    font-size: 1.4em;
  }
}
@media amzn-mobi {
  .raised {
    font-size: 1.4em;
  }
}

My entire CSS is 51 lines (and that includes spaces between styles).

But it's not the CSS that's the issue (I mean it is, but it isn't); it's the actual HTML.

Those files are so bloated with bad tags and bad classes, that I don't even know where to start. Why so many divs? The more I look at the file I downloaded, the worse it gets. There's just so much that makes so little sense. The first person on the team should have been someone familiar enough with formatting that they could actually hand-format their own book if necessary. Epubs require a different skillset than someone familair with HTML. What works on a website isn't best practices for epubs. And don't even get me started on the Aria calls. They are just there because, as near as I can tell, since they don't actually offer anything to a screen reader device (which is why you have Aria calls).

Without starting over from scratch, I'm not sure how it's possible to fix. And unless you can customize the styles (or want to sit down and break down their convoluted styles) then toss in your own CSS, I don't see it making an even halfway attractive epub. (It might be possible to make the outside pretty, but the inside is a complete mess.)

Even with InDesign and using my own CSS and using my own styles, I still need to do some quick fixes to the epub - tasks I can do in less than five minutes. However, if I wanted a similar looking epub with Atticus, I'd have to do a lot more fixes. All the time saved on the front end, is wasted on the back end.
 

Matthew

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #41 on: November 08, 2021, 06:51:50 AM »
Short answer, you can't. Not for a kindle device. It will embed and work with a Fire or App, but not on an actual Kindle device. Long answer, create an image for each chapter heading. This is super easy in InDeign, I just create the chapter heading as normal, then export the text box as an image. (It's how I create title pages.)
Hm so what I mean is having embedded fonts that display properly on headings is possible; but as soon as the reader selects a different font (e.g. Bookerly or Baskerville from their Kindle menu) all publisher fonts disappear. So it seems if you do care about having a custom font for headings, rendering to an image as you do is the best way.

Title page with correct fonts: https://i.imgur.com/qiGXJhB.jpg
Chapter 1 with correct heading font, but incorrect (PT Sans?) body font (despite none being defined in epub): https://i.imgur.com/64a6xif.jpg (this may just be a Kindle bug...?)
Changing typeface to Baskerville: https://i.imgur.com/KbsVS3b.jpg
Body and heading are now both Baskerville (not really desired from a design POV): https://i.imgur.com/IOAhwt6.jpg


Those files are so bloated with bad tags and bad classes, that I don't even know where to start. Why so many divs? The more I look at the file I downloaded, the worse it gets. There's just so much that makes so little sense. The first person on the team should have been someone familiar enough with formatting that they could actually hand-format their own book if necessary. Epubs require a different skillset than someone familair with HTML. What works on a website isn't best practices for epubs. And don't even get me started on the Aria calls. They are just there because, as near as I can tell, since they don't actually offer anything to a screen reader device (which is why you have Aria calls).
Sure, I agree the inside is a mess, and they would be fine with less divs and less classes (since they don't even use some). Regarding aria-hidden, I don't know why they even have them. Some Kindles do support text-to-speech (and maybe other ereaders), however, I think Atticus is fundamentally misusing it here, or at least not properly correcting it. I'm not too familiar with screen readers, but since they have the 4 leading words with aria-hidden a screen reader may just not read aloud the first four words of every chapter, which I find hilarious. Calibre's "read aloud" feature properly reads all the words, so that aria-hidden might be completely worthless.

(It might be possible to make the outside pretty, but the inside is a complete mess.)
I believe most people don't care at all what the inside of the epub looks like so long as the outside is pretty.

I have hand-crafted my own epubs before, but it was quite spartan. Unfortunately Affinity Publisher can't export epubs at all.
 

Matthew

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #42 on: November 09, 2021, 02:00:00 AM »
We seemed to have veered a bit off topic into ebooks, sorry about that.

Regarding print, I heard back from Atticus support.
  • They are reworking their page balance system and are working on providing more user control over hyphenation, widows, and orphans
  • Half point font sizes are on the feature request list
  • They recognize verse / block quotes could use more work
  • Tables sound like they are a very long time away, but would like to implement it
  • The fonts they add to the font list are from Google Fonts and are based on user requests. IMO they should have a separate section for adding your own Google Fonts to your account, and for their default list they should choose a Baskerville designed for print. But basically they told me "if you don't like it don't use it"

But there are no ETAs for anything. And let me just say, some minor bugs I have reported months ago have not been fixed, so I guess the squeaky wheel gets the grease and all that. Hopefully some of these print features and fixes are implemented because they're quite noticeable.
 

Anarchist

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #43 on: November 09, 2021, 09:23:01 AM »
For what it's worth, I received this from the Vellum folks this afternoon...





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RPatton

Re: Anyone used Atticus for print editions?
« Reply #44 on: November 09, 2021, 01:03:57 PM »
Interesting about Vellum.

Although Full Trucks (Images spread across two pages) are difficult in a deskptop publishing software, no way Vellum can make them work. They might be okay, but I guarantee the end result is going to cause a lot of complaints when people get their print proofs back.

I'm glad to see Vellum is expanding its styles and even though there is mix and match capabilities, there has never been true customization (hence why I call it fastfood, sure you can customize things to a certain extent, no cheese, extra pickles and onions, but you can't change out the type of pickle or onion. For a majority of publishers, this is perfect. For some, the lack of full customization is frustrating. For me, the true test is whether a traditional publisher uses it. If it's easier and can save money, big publishers would jump on Vellum. That they don't, means there's a reason for it and it more than likely has to do with the actual capabilities and customization factors including diluting their brand.

Vellum and Atticus will allow you to get a minimum viable product out the door. Although, after this little experiment, I would say that only Vellum is successful at that. As I said above, for most that will be enough. However, until Atticus makes some significant improvements, I don't feel comfortable recommending it to anyone, minimum viable product or not.