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Notes on first review of the ebook 
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Joined: Sat Sep 05, 2009 2:12 pm
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Post Notes on first review of the ebook
Hi Dave,

I've had a look at the preliminary ebook and here are some thoughts:

- Concept and structure - Excellent

- I read long ago, in a book by an advertising guru, that if you want your target audience to actually read your copy, you had better present it with a serif font. This book was published way before the personal computer age, so maybe the rules have changed. I googled "serif readability" and found some contradictory and inconclusive research. However, all the text on the pages of shotei.com is presented with a serif font. I looked at your websites and found that the older stuff has serifs while most of the newer stuff is sans-serif. Myself, I'm more comfortable reading a serif font. It just feels better.

- Each line in the Contents page should "hot-link" to the actual page. Maybe this will be a by-product of your "Navigation" tool?

- Considering the powerful potential of this e-book, why not make it entirely (and optionally to the reader) an audio book. It looks like you are intending to have selected audio clips but not a complete reading of the book. Whenever I get a "Story of the Week", I always listen to it as I'm reading it. Hearing it gives it an important added dimension.

- Adobe thinks that this is a "form" to be filled in, but the data entered won't be saved, so if I want a copy, I ought to print it after having filled it in. Huh?

Best,
Marc


Sat Sep 05, 2009 2:54 pm
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Location: Tokyo, Japan
Post Re: Notes on first review of the ebook
Quote:
- Each line in the Contents page should "hot-link" to the actual page. Maybe this will be a by-product of your "Navigation" tool?

Yes. The TOC will be completely 'hot' once we're ready.

Quote:
- Considering the powerful potential of this e-book, why not make it entirely (and optionally to the reader) an audio book. It looks like you are intending to have selected audio clips but not a complete reading of the book.

At the moment, I'm thinking that the audio content will be 'episodic' and 'chatty', and will not duplicate any of the content on the page. I myself have no time for people who read PowerPoint slides to us while we sit there, so I don't think I'll be reading any of the actual page content.

Quote:
- Adobe thinks that this is a "form" to be filled in, but the data entered won't be saved, so if I want a copy, I ought to print it after having filled it in. Huh?

That's an Adobe .pdf bug, of which there are many. There are no forms in the book at all, but I have no way to turn off that stupid and irrelevant message.

Quote:
... However, all the text on the pages of shotei.com is presented with a serif font. I looked at your websites and found that the older stuff has serifs while most of the newer stuff is sans-serif. Myself, I'm more comfortable reading a serif font. It just feels better.

These things are obviously going to come down to personal choice. I think that on our currently low-res screens, a sans is far more readable. I know it doesn't look as 'classy', but I'm going to go with legibility for now. Also, remember that a .pdf is completely scaleable, and I have no control over what size people will be viewing it at. The base page size underneath the whole thing is a horizontal A4 sheet (to allow for people to print the thing out if they wish), and at that small size, the sans is the better choice, I think ...

Quote:
- Concept and structure - Excellent

Thanks! But there's such a long way to go still ...

Dave


Sat Sep 05, 2009 3:16 pm
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Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 2:33 pm
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Location: Lancashire, United Kingdom
Post Re: Notes on first review of the ebook
I thought I'd continue on this topic rather than start a new one as it's also about my first review.

Overall, I really like it. I skimmed through most of it, but ended up reading the greater part of it fully. I've learnt a few things along the way which will adjust the way I've taught myself how to print.

My following comments are based on putting myself in the shoes of an enthusiastic beginner.

My main thought on reading it is about the balance between information and conversation. I felt that in some areas there was a tendancy to include a little too much personal opinion which may make beginners take a step back. I know you don't want it to be a dry instruction manual, but I think I'd run some of the text by someone who you'd trust to edit it a bit and trim some of the diversions.
I also understand your insistance on the use of the correct paper, but I think to say that the reader will always be a failure if they don't is a little hard. I'm sure there must be a velvet glove you could wrap that particular fist in.

I think the segment regarding Left and Right handed knives needs a little more clarity. I read it through a few times before it clicked, and then I had to get my Left-handed hangitos out to remind myself how I use mine. (I'm left handed) I was initially confused that I've been using the wrong knife, but when I mimicked my cutting I found I've been using the palm down, viewing the knife point over my hand style, which would mean a left handed hangito for a left handed person. Maybe you need to clearly indicate that the palm up and palm down styles require a different knife, and that you should choose the method to use before the buying the knife.

As a beginner, the reader has to get through a lot of information before they get started on their first print and I did start to wonder when the lesson was going to begin. For example, recovering a baren is important, but I'm not sure if it, and you insistance on tying one before breakfast, needs to be in a book called 'my first print'. Just a brief mention would be enough at this stage.
I realise that it may mean a lot of re-organising, but perhaps a brief overview of the basic tools, materials (perhaps focusing initially more on tube watercolours) and process, then getting straight into the project. For example, Cutting your Blocks > What you Need to Know > What Tools you'll need > How to do it. This would bring together the part of the project that concerns cutting the blocks, the section on knives and other cutting tools and the information on cutting and clearing methods.
Maybe this could just be done as a kind of cross referencing with links (either in the text or as icons) to relevant sections in other parts of the book. This way, the beginner could choose to read the block cutting section and instantly have access to all the other related topics without having to contantly click back to the index in order to try and find the info.

I do have to say that I like the eBook a lot. Full screen looks great, and the inclusion of video is an excellent learning tool. I can imagine it working very well on ebook readers and laptops.

Kind regards,
Mark.


Wed Sep 30, 2009 9:24 am
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Post Re: Notes on first review of the ebook
Mark Mason wrote:
... the balance between information and conversation. I felt that in some areas there was a tendency to include a little too much personal opinion ...

You're not the first person who has expressed this opinion. As is perhaps obvious, I really want to avoid any kind of dry pedantic tone. Perhaps I have gone too far the other way ...

But you know, I have written the book that I want to read! If, as an example, I think of some of the books on my shelf about ukiyo-e prints of old ... there are books with names, dates, yadda yadda; these are necessary sometimes, when we need 'just the facts, ma'am.' And then there are books where the guy who wrote it clearly becomes part of the content itself - he talks to us straight out, just as though we were sitting together drinking beer and chatting about the stuff. (Actually, not many books are like that, but you know what I mean ...) That's where I want to be. I want people to know who I am, and why I do this, and what I think about this and that ...

Mark Mason wrote:
... on the use of the correct paper, but I think to say that the reader will always be a failure if they don't is a little hard.

Yes, I'm getting a lot of grief for that comment ... I'm thinking that people who might be trying this printmaking will probably be thinking (as I was years ago), "Yeah, well, whatever ... What's the big deal about the 'Japanese' paper. I'll use what I have here ..." I want to try and emphasize that by doing that, they are making a big mistake! (But there I go again ...) :roll:

Mark Mason wrote:
I think the segment regarding Left and Right handed knives needs a little more clarity.

It does, and I'm still wrestling with it. I've been a bit stymied by lack of space on that page (trying to keep each topic to a single spread), but will move some of the text into the audio commentary, and add a few small snapshots of the 'palm down / palm up' stuff ...

Mark Mason wrote:
As a beginner, the reader has to get through a lot of information before they get started on their first print and I did start to wonder when the lesson was going to begin.

Well, I'm certainly expecting that anybody who might actually try making a print with this will of course read the whole thing first. It's not intended to be a literal 'step-by-step' from page one to the end. Of course they need a bunch of background info to set them up, and then comes the process explanation ...

Mark Mason wrote:
Full screen looks great

That is the only way to fly with this thing! I myself am getting such a kick out of booting up full-screen mode, and just tapping the arrow keys to read it ... It's not going to be so successful on the current crop of small-screen eBook readers though, and I'm feeling that there should perhaps also be another (layout) version for them, perhaps with each of these current spreads being split into two ....

Thanks for all the detailed comments, Mark! But leave this stuff alone, and get back to your drawing table. Right now! (How do you think she'll look up at the top left of these forum pages?)


Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:37 am
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Post Re: Notes on first review of the ebook
Mark Mason wrote:
I think the segment regarding Left and Right handed knives needs a little more clarity.

I've been playing with that, and have tried another approach ... with photos of the various 'options'.

What do you think?
Image


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Thu Oct 01, 2009 7:04 am
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Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 2:33 pm
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Post Re: Notes on first review of the ebook
Yes, the Right/Left segment works very well now. The photos really help too.

I understand your reasons for writing the way you have. As you say, other writers have personalised their work. Hiroshi Yoshida comes through his book too.

I see Boots has made an appearance!
Great fun!

Cheers,

Mark.


Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:03 pm
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Joined: Sat Sep 26, 2009 9:18 am
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Post Re: Notes on first review of the ebook
So......what makes you think that Boots is a lefty carver ...and is that paws down I see ?

Julio ;)


Thu Oct 01, 2009 4:55 pm
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Post Re: Notes on first review of the ebook
Boots-chan of course knows how it should be done! And from her perch under the webcam tripod, she sees all, knows all!
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Thu Oct 01, 2009 10:19 pm
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