LaTeX and lulu.com

So you’ve finished writing your thesis, your magnum opus. Next step, get it printed as a book for the world to admire. Of course, being the misunderstood genius that you are, no professional publisher will want to touch your great achievement.  Never fear, the internet age is here! So you gather up your LaTeX  files and head off to lulu.com, only to find that lulu has no idea about LaTeX. A search of the lulu help system literal returns no results.  Google returns fragmented and in many cases possibly out of date suggestions. If this sounds like you, read on.

First of all, I do latex -> dvips -> ps2pdf. Old school. If you’re a pdflatex person, I’ve heard that this works pretty well with lulu, but I can’t say from experience. You can figure out for yourself which parts of the following are relevant to you. Also I’m doing all this with Linux and Linux command line tools.

Page formatting
The first problem is to get the page size and formatting correctly set up. I went for lulu’s 9″x6″ case wrap hard cover. Essentially, that’s a “normal” sized book format, with a full colour hard cover with no dust jacket. I’m sure it’s possible to get one of the normal LaTeX document types to format the pages to some exact page size, but I never worked out how. I only seemed to be able to select preset sizes, none of which were 9″x6″. So I took a different route: I switched to the scrbook format which is part of KOMA-script. I was a bit hesitant about doing this to start with. Firstly, because I imagined it might be a pain to install, and secondly I was sure that it would conflict with a million little tricks I was doing in my document. Turned out to be plain sailing. I put “KOMA-script” into synaptic on my Ubuntu Linux machine and found that it was in the intexlive-latex-recommeded package and that I already had it installed.

Ok, so now we can switch to scrbook and set up the page size correctly for lulu:

documentclass[10pt,twoside,openright]{scrbook}

setlength{paperwidth}{6in} % set size for latex
setlength{paperheight}{9in}
special{papersize=6in,9in} % set size for ghostscript
typearea[6mm]{1} % 6mm for spine

Amazingly, this change did not cause me any real problems. I didn’t like the chapter and section heading fonts to start with, but I actually grew to like them and kept them. If you want to mess around with fonts google for “The KOMA-script package” for a pdf on how all the options work for this document class.

I thought that the 6mm for the spine wouldn’t be enough. However, I decided to go with it to start with as somebody on the internet had suggested this, and yes indeed it was perfect in the printed copy. I also thought that the printed area of the page was slightly too high. On the printed book it still looks slightly too high to me, however I then compared it to a professional text book of the same page size and there the page spacing was identical. So, yeah, maybe it’s just me.

Fonts
The next major problem is sorting out the fonts. Just because your document prints fine on your printer does not mean that lulu’s book printer will also print it correctly. What you want is for all the fonts to be fully embedded into the document. There are a few tricks to make this happen. First up build your dvi file as per normal:

latex thesis.tex

Ok, now build the ps file using the pdf and G0 options. I’m not sure if the G0 option is really necessary, but I’ve never found it to cause any problem either:

dvips -Ppdf -G0 thesis.dvi -o

Now we get to the key step: forcing all the fonts to fully embed into the pdf:

ps2pdf13 -dEmbedAllFonts=true -dSubsetFonts=false -dPDFSETTINGS=/printer thesis.ps

(that’s one line of course) I used ps2pdf13 to force the output to version 1.3 = Acrobat 4.0 format. I heard that this tends to work best with lulu rather than newer formats. In any case it didn’t cause me any problems.

The first two options are obvious, embed all the fonts and don’t just subset embed them. Strangely, some fonts still won’t be embedded! The reason is that very common fonts are assumed to be present on all printers and so get skipped. Lulu doesn’t like this and demands these to be embedded also. With the third option to prepare for printing the remaining fonts will also be embedded. Problem fixed.

Ok, now let’s check that the fonts really are fully embedded:

pdffonts thesis.pdf

Under “emb” should all be “yes” and under “sub” should all be “no”.  Great, all your fonts are now lulu compliant. You can use any weird fonts you want with lulu, so long as you embed them. Crazy ass custom math symbols… no problem!

Now, let’s check that everything looks right. I suggest installing and using acrobat reader for this. It’s free and it’s the definitive viewer for pdf correctness.

acroread thesis.pdf

Now turn off the local fonts to ensure that you’re only viewing the document with the embedded ones. In my version of reader through the menu bar it’s:

edit->preferences->page display->use local fonts = false

At this point you might want to spend some time flicking through the pages of your document checking that things look the way you expect them too. Time well spent.

Page numbering
Now, let’s check that the pages are in the right places. Set to two page view with a cover page:

view->page display->show cover page during two up = true

view->page display->two up

At the start of your document you should see a single page on the screen. This will be your title page. There will be a blank page before this from the printing process, like in any normal book. The title page will be a right side page of course. Page down and you’ll now see two pages: the left page on the left of the screen and the right page on the right. This left page normally contains a copyright notice etc. Now keep flicking down through your document. The thing to check is that your left pages have the page number on the top left (or bottom left) and the right pages have the page number on the right. In other words, make sure that the left pages are really on the left side and the right pages are really on the right side. If not, you’ve got your page numbering messed up. Odd numbered pages go on the right, even on the left.

If your document is all looking good, then go ahead and upload the pdf to lulu.com. With all the fonts fully embedded lulu shouldn’t complain.

Cover
The final problem is to make up a cover design. I used gimp to produce a single image for both the back and front cover. Follow the lulu instructions to get the exact dimensions you’ll need in terms of “points”. You’ll need to write all these numbers down and do some arithmetic to figure out exactly where everything goes. You’ll have a spine width that depends on how many pages you have in the book, a bleed area where the printed colour cover wraps around the outside into the inside of the book etc. One thing to remember when designing the image in gimp is that when you first create a new canvas, set the size to “points” in the dimensions instructed by lulu, and also remember to set the dpi to 300 rather than 72 in order to get a good image quality. If I recall correctly lulu prints covers at 300 dpi.

The only part I found tricky in this process was the centring of things on the front page (which is on the right of the cover image).  The problem is that you have the edge of the spine, then you have a folding area, then you have the hard flat area of the front cover.  Where is the centre of this? From the spine to the right edge of the cover? Or from the edge of the folding area to the right edge? To start with I took the former and placed things half way between the edge of the spine and the right edge of the cover. However, when I got the first test printing of my book, while this is where things were printed, visually it appeared that things were a little off the to left due to the folding area. Thus, in my opinion, the visual centre of the cover is slightly to the right due to the presence of the folding region on the left next to the spine. My suggestion then is to shift things fractionally to the right. Just 1/16 of the cover width, which if you measure it out is really small, but still noticeable. If you do follow this suggestion, do measure it out as 1/8 the page width to the right would be too far.

Now, save the cover as a png and conver to a pdf using the image magick software (again in the Ubunut depositories if you haven’t got it installed):

convert cover.png cover.pdf

Check again with acroread and then upload the cover pdf to to lulu.

Finally, print a test copy to check everything is working correctly before ordering a box of copies!

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9 Responses to LaTeX and lulu.com

  1. mathieu says:

    Thanks for the help ! I tried to use memoir.cls for this goal and lost mor than one day doing this. Your solution took me 10 minutes alltogether !

  2. Shane Legg says:

    mathieu:

    Yeah, it took me a day to figure all this out… but once you know a few of the right tricks it’s really quite fast and easy to do. :-)

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  4. sjo222 says:

    A question. I tried the above to get Crown Quarto size, and then used the crop package on usletter size to see what I get. The crop marks are 18.1cm by 23.6cm rather than the required 18.91 by 24.58

    %% Lulu: Crown Quarto Color, Perfect Bound (18.91cm x 24.589cm)
    \setlength{\paperwidth}{18.91cm} % set size for latex
    \setlength{\paperheight}{24.589cm}
    \special{papersize=7in,9in} % set size for ghostscript
    \typearea[6mm]{1}%% 6 mm for spine

    %%Crop marks
    \usepackage[cross, letter,center]{crop}

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  6. Greg Gage says:

    I really liked the format of the Tufte book class. http://code.google.com/p/tufte-latex/

    Has anyone tried to publish a thesis using this class on lulu? I will give it a try, but I am not a latex expert by any means. I was hoping there were others out there who dared to walk before me. :)

    Greg

    • Brian Coleman says:

      Hi Greg,
      I too am hoping soon to publish a 200 page LaTeX-Tufte book (on a physics topic), possibly using Lulu. Lots of equations and large graphics. If you have experience with this, I would much appreciate a dialog.

      I have ‘solved’ most of the problems such as different running headers, subtitle, twoside/symmetric etc. and am delighted with the results. Previously I had everything written in FrameMaker which for several reasons I am thinking of dropping, now that LaTeX-Tufte produces what seem to be better results.
      One task is to figure out if B5 is ok with Lulu and if not how to change the geometry which I imagine I will have to tackle anyway.

      Hoping to hear from you or others similarly involved.

      Regards,

      Brian Coleman

      p.s. I recently posted a problem on the L-T user groups forum.

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