Creating ready-to-print photo  books  with  Ruby and TeX

Instead of composing photo books online, Mike Schilli prefers to use Ruby and TeX to program an application that generates print-ready PDF books.

I thought I had actually already given up printed books. Today, when I buy a paper book, typically used, I immediately send it to the paper cutting guillotine. The individual pages are then fed to my scanner and ultimately end up digitalized on my iPad, where I then read them.

But there is one type of paper book that I still cherish and even find preferable to digital formats: thick hardcover photography tomes that you might find scattered haphazardly on a little table in a hotel lobby or a vacation home. You just plop down in an armchair next to them, lean back, put your feet up, and start leafing through the high quality pages.

These books are known as coffee table books, probably because they are usually found on coffee tables. You can even create such works yourself with your own photos! Various online providers offer browser tools for uploading photos and laying them out across the pages of a virtual paper book. If you then press the send button and pay the bill, after roughly a week, your mailperson will deliver a high-quality book with a hard cover directly to your home (Figure 1).

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