Decentralizing the book publishing of translations

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Translations available of Pepper&Carrot on a map.
Red dot represents 100% translated, blue dots languages under 100%.
Dots were placed into average location of most speakers for illustrative purpose. I know it's something that make no sens to do but it was easier to visualize 56 languages this way and it makes a good header picture? :D (Latin, Esperanto and 3 conlangs are obviously not on the map.)

Last week, I received many questions via comments, private messages, emails just after the release of the four English Books self-published. One type of recurring question came from the translators of Pepper&Carrot:

Q: "Will you start self-publishing Pepper&Carrot into other languages?"

The potential is certainly enormous! To give you an idea; 68 Pepper&Carrot contributors(1) with a majority of translators are working on 56 languages available(2). Within this list, the 200 pages of Pepper&Carrot are fully translated in 17 languages: Catalan, Chinese, German, English, Esperanto, French, Scottish Gaelic, Italian, Japanese, Cornish, Norwegian Nynorsk and Bokmål, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian and Vietnamese. So, in theory: I have the possibility to self-publish the three comic books into 16 new languages...

A: No, that's not my plan (anymore).

I can't be the central publisher of Pepper&Carrot for all language, and my main reason to not handle that myself is mainly time and resources: making a good book take a lot of time and paying for many print-proof/ISBN is expensive. I know I expressed this dream in the past to make that, but not anymore after the full prod of the English books: I want to continue to make art and I don't want to become a full-time publisher... Therefore, I'm not interested into going through the adventure of publishing 128 new books (16 languages x 4 books x 2 formats: softcover and hardcover), that would take me full-time work during a year and a budget of 2000€ of print proof.

Carrot, happy to say thank you in so many languages!

Decentralizing the book publishing of translations

A big task I cannot manage alone doesn't mean it cannot be done independently by many. I know everyone expected me to publish and handle the printed translations. But that would be centralizing all of them and I don't have the shoulders for that. That's why I want to make the decision to decentralize totally this vision and empower each translators and contributors to create their own books of Pepper&Carrot. If they do benefits from the sales, I'm fine with it. That will reward their time and effort on the translation (and if the benefits are insane: they still know how they can help with it).

To put in relation the audience visiting my Shop and their products, I propose to maintain a central directory of links to their products on the new Community Products part of the Shop (at the end of the page). I already listed the books I had at home: Glénat, Ar Gripi and PopCom.

I can share my recipe to make books with 100% FLOSS tools. It would be dishonest to tell you it will be easy as three click and boom...PDF! But if you have a GNU/Linux system; know how to run a bash script, how to do search and replace in XML and are not afraid of opening Scribus, Inkscape and Krita; this might be possible to handle for you.

The menu to select language on Pepper&Carrot: 56 choices with various level of completion.

A. The book-publishing Git repo

The sources files are partially split between a Gitlab repo hosted by Framasoft and the server for the art and large files:

I worked since the start to make a project flexible so I could share it and make it collaborative. So far, I propose in this repo:

  1. A bash script that picks all the artworks necessary from server.
  2. The artworks are then converted/cleaned/sharpened on your machine to CMYK colors.
  3. When GB of art are ready, the Scribus files at the roots can be edited.

This system has many benefits: a simple edit on the script of the variable [en] and the script will download and render comic book into your target translation. You'll also have to edit the path to pictures written inside the Scribus file (a XML file) using a search/replace function of a text editor. All future update and fixes made on the SVGs translation and available on will sync to your book by running again the script.

Unfortunately, the repository is still young, hard to install on new setup and not documented. It's on the way to be more user-friendly and documented in the coming days, especially if I see interest around it. By the way, I want to thanks here the effort of Valvin who started a FR translation of the Artbook,started to fix the repo and sent many precious feedbacks.

Documentation: never too late to work on it.

B. Building complex CC-By credits:

Writing correct credits and attribution for a target language of Pepper&Carrot was so far a very difficult task. Over the last six years of production, many joined translation temporary, or pushed single typography correction. All this contributors deserve a credit. Digging the git repository to collect names was an option, but fortunately this type of big work is no more necessary: a big refactor have been done to build a generator for credits:

That should ease making perfect credit compliant with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

Credits as they appear on first page of Book 1, Patrons are listed at the end.

C. Printer

You'll have easier time if you keep print-on-demand service: the Scribus files are already adapted and calibrated for it. I also made all the tests(3) to produce perfect quality for it. But if you want to start the adventure with another POD service (or Offset printer) the repo should still ease a lot your life than starting from scratch.

If you keep DTC; you'll only have to create your own Publisher account, upload your PDF files and setup your product page. You'll have to buy your print-proof, and setup your public price. Once you received it and it is ready, send me also a proof so I can review it and add it on the Shop (better even if you send me the PDF prior you print it for a review).

Please name your shop/publisher account after your own name (or own company/publisher name) and describe on the product it is a derivation from the official and that you are not the artist. It's important to communicate clearly with the audience. Also please use your own logo on the cover of the books; I do not accept people impersonating me, and this is the easiest way to avoid confusion...

Screenshot of Scribus while working on the Artbook

D. To recommend or not

Because not all the products will have variable qualities, I made two category on the Community products(4):

  • Not recommended: half-finished, low quality or products with ethical issue.
  • Recommended: good quality print, respecting the license and ideally contributing back.

That should help my audience to select good Pepper&Carrot products and be better informed for the one existing in the wild.

Screenshot of the Community products section on the Shop

End note:

That's all, I hope this article will trigger initiatives and create new Pepper&Carrot book publishing around the world! You are welcome to speak about your project on Pepper&Carrot chat room: IRC, Telegram or Matrix.

License: "Decentralizing the book publishing of translations" by David Revoy − CC-BY 4.0
Tags:  #lab  #print   | Download: Markdown