Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Small Publishing: Computer

As H2NH Publishing expands, it needs a publishing platform. I do all my writing on an Asus EeePC netbook with Ubuntu using FocusWriter. I have Windows XP on the other partition, and it is from there that I do all the publishing, using Microsoft Office 2007 and GIMP, etc. I can theoretically do it all in Ubuntu, but I like Word better than LibreOffice. You can see the (mostly) current H2NH publishing workflow here.

But, as I move up the publishing ladder and contemplate going into POD, that's just getting ridiculous. It's a 10" screen, and you can't layout a book on a 10" screen. Not to mention that InDesign cannot actually run on my netbook without waiting a minute between each click. Horrifying. I need my eyes to read with, people. So, H2NH is currently in the medium-term planning for a Business computer. I'm OS agnostic, with some reservations, and I need the lifecycle to be at least five years. (I buy a netbook every two years and give the old one to a deserving case.) So, let's get into the nitty-gritty with a number:

Budget: $4500-$5000 (read: ~$1000/year)
Makes for three options. I'll put them in rough order of convenience: 

Option 1: iMac 
Software - ~$1,500
Office for Mac Home and Student 2011 - $120
Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Design Standard - $1,300
Hardware - ~$3,000
iMac 27" with a solid state hard drive, and upgraded RAM.
Thoughts - 
This has the advantage of being incredibly easy to lug around a jungle, and it doesn't take up a lot of space. The disadvantage is that there's no Apple Store or anything, and I'd prefer to support my own damn self anyways. STILL, it's pretty, well-designed, and runs cool in my tropical existence. Software-wise, I'd have InDesign and Word and everything would just work. If it didn't, I could just reinstall from a base image. The main disadvantage is that I'd have to use Mac OS. If you can't dick around with your computer, what's the point of even having one?

Option 2: Built PC running Windows 
Software - ~$1,800
Microsoft Office Home and Business 2010 - $200
Adobe Creative Suite 5.5 Design Standard - $1,300
Windows 7 Ultimate - $320
Hardware - ~$3,000
A veritable beast of a machine, acquired of Newegg and assembled by myself - $2,000-$2,500
Display (touch-screen) - $500-$1000
Thoughts -
First off, yes: $320. Are you f*ckin' kidding me? I have a philosophical objection to paying that much for a mere operating system. Esp. one that isn't all that great. But, the advantage of a massive touch-screen makes this a viable option. Also, my hardware budget will go much farther than with Apple, so I could load this thing down with RAM and a sexy video card, and still have cash left over for a great display. The added benefit of knowing exactly where every component came from can't hurt for purposes of providing my own support, not to mention a robust cooling system for use in my tropical paradise. Put it all together and I'd have a beast. A sexy, sexy beast. Still...Windows...urgh.

Option 3, AKA the 'free option': Built PC running GNU/Linux
Software - $0
LibreOffice - Free
GIMP - Free
Scribus - Free
Ubuntu, some flavor thereof, or some other build entirely.
Hardware $2,500
A veritable beast of a machine, acquired of Newegg and assembled by myself - $2,000
Display - $500
Thoughts - 
If I were daring enough to go free software for this publishing adventure, this is what I'd do. It'd be the same machine as above, but without the fancy touch-screen. It'd run fast, smooth, and delicious. Like a penguin-flavored ice cream. The problem is that Scribus isn't InDesign, and LibreOffice isn't Word. Yet? I'm sure I could make it work, but do I want to?

So...yeah. At some point I'll just flip a coin. What do you use, small publishers?
feel free to comment


  1. If you are opposed to paying for Windows, keep in mind that when you buy a Mac you're effectively paying for Linux (and shoe shine applied to the hardware). The main advantage I see with Macs is the ability to go in to a Mac store at any time and demand restoration, because they always, always give in. My girlfriend has gotten so much free shit from them. But, I don't know if you've got a Mac store nearby THE JUNGLE.

  2. Damn! Are you buying your hardware in Thailand? My wife's shops have top of the line gaming computers and the hardware was only about $600 (18K THB) per PC (19" monitor included). Are you building the computer from TRON or something?

  3. Ben: Well. I was a Genius Bar manager, and I stole all my tools before I ran away from that boring-ass job. I can support myself, in theory. But I'll probably just reinstall the whole thing if anything goes horribly awry. The MAIN advantage is that I won't have to chase down a whole bunch of components in the middle of a jungle.

    Paul: I'm optimizing it for CS5.5, so I'll be getting a solid state hard drive and loading it down with RAM and a big-ass video card. Hence I'll need a better motherboard, and fancy cooling so it'll be quiet. It has to last five years in the heat, and not kill my hearing doing so...

    Does your wife's shop stock hardware components?

  4. David,

    Unfortunately, all of our hardware is in use at the moment. Pornthip on the fourth floor has some good deals though. There's also the basement of Seacon, where we get a lot of our stuff. Zeer up in Rangsit is the best in Thailand, but unfortunately it's underwater at the moment.

  5. Ah well. I'll have to do it the hard way. If it turns out to be TOO hard, I'll do the iMac thing. I really want to do the Windows thing though, because the spectacle of a non-pirated Windows OS in Asia would be sufficient to sell tickets.

    I'd make back that $320 in no time!


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