The Book Projects of Jim Plaxco
Planet Earth As Art: The View From Space began as a presentation I first gave a number of years ago. The bulk of the work for the book was done during 2017 and 2018. While the production of the images for the book is complete, the corresponding text has yet to be written and the book's formal layout created. Learn more about this book at Planet Earth As Art: The View From Space Book.
The book Haiku of Outer Space did not start out that way. Years ago I began writing haiku whose theme was space exploration. This was quite the challenge since the heart of haiku is nature and its seasons. As of 2022 I had written over 250 space-themed haiku (in addition to more traditional haiku) and continue to write more. For information about the book's current status, see Haiku of Outer Space Book.
Water Photography: Great Smoky Mountains National Park will be the product of a 2019 vacation my wife and took to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We had an absolutely wonderful time there. Fortunately for us, the week before our spring visit there had been a fair amount of rainfall so the many streams, creeks, and waterfalls had good flowing waters. During our time there I took several hundred photographs which I later decided to use as the basis for a photography book. For information about the book's current status, see Water Photography: Great Smoky Mountains National Park Book Project
The Beauty of Algorithmic Art was the first book project I undertook and was inspired by presentations I had created about the history of computer art and algorithmic art. Unfortunately I have always given this book project a low priority. I have not had a sense of urgency about this project and it has always been on the proverbial back-burner. You can learn more about this book at The Beauty of Algorithmic Art Book.
Book Projects Overview
At this time I am engaged in the production of the four books shown above. The books are in various stages of completion and have different priorities when it comes to time allocation. The first book project I started work on was The Beauty of Algorithmic Art. Work on that book was halted in order to develop the content for the book Planet Earth As Art: The View From Space. A number of other projects developed that took priority over these two publishing projects, including accepting the job as the National Space Society's Director of Information Systems.
Prior to this I had also been writing haiku about astronomy and space exploration. A few years ago I felt that I had written more than enough haiku to assemble them into book form and so the Haiku of Outer Space book project was born.
As it happens, my main project for 2023 was not working on my books but rather undertaking a complete redesign of the Artsnova website - which proved to be a substantial consumer of time. While the new site is now live (as of January 23, 2024), the only task that is truly complete is the creation of the new design and its deployment to a new hosting company. There is still work to be done to complete the entire project, which includes completing development of my new custom CMS (content management system), and to fully validate all the website content. Only after completion of these tasks will I be able to turn my attention to one or more of my book projects.
Book Publication Considerations
Given that I had determined to self-publish, I was faced with answering two key questions: what platform would I use to publish my book(s) and what desktop publishing software would I use for creating my books.
Print-On-Demand Self-Publishing Vendor Selection
Without going into detail here on this subject, after a lengthy investigation into the pros and cons of a variety of self-publishing platforms, I decided to to with IngramSpark. Note that as of this writing I have yet to go through the entire book publication process so can not be certain that I have made the right choice.
Desktop Publishing Software Selection
To properly format a book for subsequent publishing requires the use of desktop publishing software. Since I have a copy of Adobe's Creative Suite, I already had InDesign installed on my MS Windows computer. I bought a couple of books on InDesign and began learning how to use the software. I found InDesign to be quite complex and not entirely intuitive to use. Consequently I began to wonder whether or not there was a better alternative. One option that was near the top of my list was QuarkXPress. Another that was at the absolute bottom of my list (as in never ever use it) was Microsoft Publisher.
Investigating the open source alternatives, which typically also have versions available for Linux as well as MS Windows, I discovered Scribus. While not done to the same level of professionalism as Adobe InDesign, and with not a lot of support and a sporadic release history, Scribus at first look did not seem like an obvious solution. But Scribus had all the features I needed and was fairly intuitive in its UI design and features. The feature set and design clarity results in a more user friendly learning curve. Plus Scribus was available for Linux systems - which allowed me to easily go back and forth between my Linux computer and my Windows computer. So Scribus has become my desktop publishing software of choice.
I hope to make significant progress on one or more of my book projects during 2024. Stay tuned.