Aperture 2 Quick Tip - Book Printing With Any Service

Aperture_QT___Book_Service.jpgSorry for the long time away from the site, one of those busy weeks. Well on with the show. I received way more feedback and questions on my last Aperture quick tip regarding using books for project notes than I would have ever expected. A lot of the feed back was related to using Aperture books for services other than Apple's book printing service. After responding to a bunch of very specific questions in email I thought it might be useful to provide a more general overview of how to use Aperture's book layout features with any service that you would like to use so here goes.

The first step is to determine the book printing service's file/upload specifications, in some cases the only way to upload is to use their own proprietary software. If so that is okay, you can still use Aperture to make short work out of the job. Once you have the exact page size measurements and the DPI specifications that are required the rest is amazingly simple.

  1. Create a custom book theme in Aperture that uses the exact page dimensions of your printing service. This step is not always required but is critical to success if the printing service page dimensions are different than the Apple provided themes even by a little bit.
  2. Obviously customize your page layouts, place your images, text, etc. In other words make your book in Aperture.
  3. Navigate to /Library/PDF Services in the Finder - here you will find a number of Automator scripts that show up in the PDF options in all of the print dialogs, including Aperture's print book dialog. If you do not want to mess up your pristine Apple given scripts just copy the target script to one of another name. The one that we want is "Save PDF to folder as JPEG.work-flow", you can copy this to as many different scripts you would like - one for each different specification you need.
  4. Double click the newly copied automator script to open it in Automator. Up near the top of the work-flow steps you will see the step "Render PDF Pages as Images" - click the little disclosure triangle to see the parameter options. This is where you will change the DPI setting to correspond to your print services specifications. You can mess with the compression level as well until you are satisfied that you have the "quality" that you "need". If you are really OCD you can use the TIFF script instead.
  5. Save the new automator workflow and close automator, when you do save it use the "Save As..." option or the name will not show up correctly in Aperture or other Applications - restart Aperture.
  6. Back inside Aperture go to the book that you want to send to say - Blurb. Choose File->Print Book - Down at the bottom of the book printing dialog check out the "PDF" drop down menu button. There should now be "Save PDF to JPG whatever you called it" option. Choose this and let Aperture/Automator do the heavy lifting for a couple of seconds.
  7. Now use the printing services software or page templates, etc. to place your full page images and your done. This should take about a minute considering that all of your layout is in the actual full page images. With some services you won't even need to do this you can go strait to PDF as long as you follow their guidelines on even/odd pages, covers, etc. Using the image method and the print services software/templates it is guaranteed to work.

So far I have personally used this or a similar method to print Aperture books with Asuka Book, Blurb.com, and a printer local to me. Don't get me wrong, I still use Adobe InDesign if I have something really really complicated to do and need to spec varnish overlays on images blah blah blah but for most light duty printing I love Aperture books, even with Apple's book service. I guess it is because I gravitate to image sets and controlling context of the images rather than to single framed images as my medium of choice. I hope this was at all comprehensible and inspires you to at least try Aperture books for something other than just Apple's book printing services. Aperture's book feature is so useful that the more you use it the more you can think of to do with it.

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Edit: Special link for a question over on the Aperture Support Forum regarding two page spreads.

Edit: There is a critical update to this article here.

Enjoy

RB

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