Decision About the PDF/X-1a:2001 Problem

I think I’ve been researching this problem non-stop. At least it seems that way. I’d already figured out that converting my book to PDF/X-1a:2001 on Ubuntu Linux was out. Next, I took a serious look at Serif’s PagePlus, thinking I could run it on the Windows partition of my computer. However, I decided that since some folks have had problems with Serif’s PagePlus PDF/X-1a:2001 metadata and Lightning Source, that perhaps PagePlus wasn’t for me at this time. Since the whole self-publishing process is all so new, I figured I don’t need another stressor thrown into the mix!

That left Adobe Acrobat Professional. The newest version is prohibitive because of cost. I scoured Amazon and eBay, coming to the conclusion that even older versions would cost a pretty penny, as in at least $200, likely more. This amazes me because so many of them don’t run on anything higher than Windows XP. Still, I was clueless to know which one would be best.

I finally thought to look at my public library for a book that I could check out. I discovered that they do indeed have one, Adobe Acrobat 9 PDF Bible, by Ted Padova.

This book has been very helpful. It is set up as a reference book, and details every aspect of the PDF process. What I realized, is that I don’t need all the bells and whistles. All I really need is Acrobat Distiller, which can’t be purchased as a stand-alone program; it is integrated into Adobe Acrobat.

So. I found a new copy of Adobe Acrobat Professional version 6 for about $80 on Amazon. This is the earliest version of Acrobat that can create the PDFs that Lightning Source wants. I’ll dust off my old XP computer and install it there.

I confess I’m still a little nervous about the whole thing, but at least I can get back to finishing the front matter and index of my book.

Progress On The PDF/X-1a:2001 Problem

I have been researching this problem, and still have not found a solution for Linux. I did begin to browse the Serif forums, regarding PagePlus’s ability to create  PDF/X-1a:2001 files. There are some who’ve had problems with the metadata when trying to upload their PagePlus  PDF/X-1a:2001s to Lightning Source. That’s something I need to research further. Is there a workaround? Can I edit the metadata? How? Does it apply to PagePlus version 6 as well as version 5?

Another concern was whether or not I would have to reformat the entire book interior in either Acrobat Pro or PagePlus. This would have been discouraging because I’ve already done it in LibreOffice. I did discover that LO can export files in the .ps format, from which the PDF/X-1a:2001 files are made. That was a 1+ discovery. Since I’ve learned about metadata, however, I’d better make sure these are the same.

Another question is, how necessary is  PDF/X-1a:2001 for a black and white manuscript? This particular pdf format is used for color images, which must be CMYK for printing, rather than RGB, as is the case for digital. Every now and then I read about some exception to LSI’s  PDF/X-1a:2001 rule, which was successfully accepted, but no further information is provided.

This brings up another problem, i.e. changing all my RGB images to CMYK. The Gimp can do it, but requires details I am still unsure of.

I appear to have my research cut out for me. In the meantime, I am working on finishing up the front matter. I’m also getting ready to do an aloud read-through, to see if I can catch anything I messed up while adding photos and formatting the pages. Then I’ll work on adding page numbers to the index. I still have to do a cover as well. It’s been designed in my head, but hasn’t been created yet. I still seem to have a ton of work to do, yet the end is in sight.

The Problem With PDF/X-1a:2001

The problem, for me, is that it is an industry standard for accepting pdf manuscripts for printing. This of itself isn’t too bad, but, apparently, there is only one very few pdf makers that have the capability to create PDF/X-1a:2001 documents.  Adobe Acrobat Professional has been the only one for quite awhile. So, for printers such as Lightning Source Ingram, one must also purchase the Adobe program.

This is not only expensive, but, I confess, a bit disappointing. I was hoping to publish my book entirely with open source software.  This doesn’t appear meant to be.

I did read about one Linux user who managed to do it with Scribus 1.5, which apparently can export in PDF/X-1a:2001. I discovered, however, that this version is still in the testing stage, which isn’t an option for me.

The other alternative, seems to be Serif PagePlus x5. There is also an x6, which being new is, of course, more expensive. This option means an operating system decision. I currently use Xubuntu Linux, which I love. I did keep Windows 7 as a dual boot, so that’s an option. I also have an old XP machine which would need dusting off. Alternatively I could try a Virtual Machine within Xubuntu. Apparently, PagePus does not run under Wine.

Actually, I used PagePlus exclusively as a DTP back in my Windows days. It is very user friendly and much less expensive than the big name programs. Since there is no Linux version, I’ve been taking a look at Scribus. Very nice, but not so simple to learn and doesn’t seem to meet my pdf needs.

So. That’s where things stand at the moment.