Vanity Three

Same as last year and the year before, I am temporarily putting the last year of the Ruricolist into print.

The Ruricolist: Essays and Caprices: Year Threen

I plan to keep it available until the end of June.

Unlike last year I cannot make the PDF available for download from Lulu. You may download a PDF here, but let me explain myself first, because this PDF is not as good as I would like. I am trapped between technology and law. The book is set in Monotype Bembo Book. The metal Bembo is both a celebrated font, and one I am fond of—the first book whose typography consciously charmed me (an old Penguin edition of Josephus) was set in Bembo. But the first digitization of the font is a notorious failure. Bembo Book is a relatively new, much improved attempt. I am pleased with it, and with its result.

The problem is that it is a commercial font. I had to pay for it, and agree to a license. The license forbids me from distributing PDFs with full font embedding. Lulu absolutely requires full embedding of fonts. The solution I arrived at was conversion into DjVu format. DjVu shares some of the aims of PDF—it is a portable document format—but it is more compact and more consistent. It is favored for scholarly facsimiles. And being a raster format (like a photo), it does not support fonts. (If you can display it, you may simply download Year Three in DjVu.) From DjVu I exported a Postscript version, then back-converted the Postscript into a PDF with no fonts. Since the file has been through two conversions, and since it is a raster and anti-aliasing cannot be applied to it, it does not look as well on screen as it would in its original format.

The cover image is one of a number of photos I took year before last of a ruined church out by Hammond. I know nothing about it—not its name, nor its history, nor even its address. I don't even know if it's still there. But it had a visual attraction that even this non-photographer could not defy. The only change made to the image is the usual histogram adjustment of color levels.

P.S. A note for the technically minded. All the tools employed are free software; namely, for coding, Emacs with AUCTeX; for typesetting, XeLaTeX with KOMA-script; and for image editing, GIMP.

Also, a lesson learned. As you value your sanity do not try to produce a one-piece cover for Lulu by any kind of conversion. There is no direct way to turn an image that GIMP can edit into a PDF that Lulu can print without ruinous loss of quality. Use geometry to make a PDF of the appropriate size and just embed the image in it (possibly with PSTricks). It prints perfectly.