I never had a job which required me to do layout. I had people reporting to me who did though, and I thus thought it a good idea to play around with QuarkXPress, Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, so that I could at least visualize what it was they were talking about when there was trouble. I never got good at them, but I did create a little booklet using QuarkXPress many years ago. In my last job I would use InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator to make PDF corrections in files for print-on-demand setup. In this simple work I was repeatedly saved from disaster by the helping hand of Dan Earley, without whom I would have failed. My earlier post, on PDF corrections also acknowledges Dan’s help.

This makes me think of another POD correction which went rather differently — down the old analog route. We had PDFs for an old 4-volume set of scientific papers, and I went ahead and set them up. When checking the proof it became obvious that some pages were missing: basically a couple of journal articles. I went to New York Public Library to see if I could get a copy of the original 4-volume set — but they had destroyed their copy, and impressively (and depressingly) were able to tell me that every other library in America which had had a copy had done the same. (Don’t let anyone tell you that books are kept in perpetuity in our libraries.) They were however able to find me copies of the journals in which the missing papers had originally been published. I Xeroxed them, and then sent them off to the POD printer who scanned them, added them to our PDF, returned a corrected PDF for our archive, and sent me a new proof. Now all that remains is for all those libraries to buy a new set of the volumes! (That I was able to do this was because the original 4 volumes had been created in exactly that way: there was no consistency of design in the set, nor actually even a set of folios running throughout each volume. Finding that two papers were missing was purely the result of comparing the contents list with the object in front of me. That this was a wise precaution is shown by the outcome.)

QuarkXPress was never a perfect tool — much better than nothing of course, and able to do a lot, if occasionally rather clunkily. InDesign took over the market surprisingly quickly, mainly because Quark repeatedly failed to adapt to changes in the Macintosh operating system, betting that Windows would take over. Not a winning bet. A good account of the demise of QuarkXPress and its replacement by InDesign is given in Dave Girard’s piece in ArsTechnica on 14 January, coming to us via Publishing Executive. It is interesting to see a similar high-and-mighty attitude to the one that lead to Quark’s downfall now being manifested by Adobe with their widely-hated leasing model for Creative Cloud.