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A great tutorial for Scribus
on 27 December 2010
There are really two manuals currently available for Scribus, not counting Scribus Kompakt that is available only in German. The first was Scribus, the Official Manual by Gregory Pittman, Christoph Schäfer, et al. (ISBN 978-0-9560780-0-1). At around £29 it is a bit expensive, although profits go to further the development of Scribus, so when I bought it six months ago I didn't mind paying the price. The book here by Cédric Gémy is the second, published in December, 2010. I have been through both manuals thoroughly. Both are worth having if you're serious about desktop publishing with Scribus, although each serves a somewhat different function and approaches the subject differently.
Gémy's book is less expensive, especially if you buy the e-book format (downloadable in EPUB and PDF formats, available only at the publisher's website for around £14.50). Lest you think that you should buy the Pittman and Schäfer book so as to contribute to the Scribus project, Cédric Gémy is a frequent contributor to Scribus and has spent a lot of time helping with its development. I don't have any problem if his bank account increases a bit for his efforts.
Gémy teaches you how to use Scribus in a more or less tutorial fashion, where each chapter progresses in difficulty. In that respect it is less of a reference book than the Pittman and Schäfer manual. In fact, Gémy's book doesn't even have an index. On the other hand, if you are a beginner, a tutorial is exactly what you need. And Gémy does an excellent job of taking you by the hand, showing you how to do something step by step. He even includes quizzes at the end of each chapter. You can literally start at the beginning of the book and have Scribus pretty well mastered by the time you get to the end. "Beginner's Guide" is an apt title for Gémy's book.
Another advantage of Gémy's book is that it targets 1.3.5, where the Pittman and Schäfer book is written for 220.127.116.11. If you're not familiar with Scribus version numbers, 18.104.22.168 is the official stable version as of this writing (December, 2010), and the development version when Gémy's book was written was 1.3.5. The development version is currently at 1.3.9 and will become the new stable version at 1.4.0, due out in early 2011. Therefore, Gémy's book covers the new features you will find in the version you are probably going to use.
There are also advantages to the Pittman and Schäfer manual. For one thing, not being written in tutorial fashion it's easier to look up how to use a specific feature. More importantly, Pittman and Schäfer include a lot of things about desktop publishing that are not specific to Scribus. For example, do you know the difference between a spot color and process color, or the advantages and disadvantages of TIFF files over PSD files? Pittman and Schäfer not only tell you about a Scribus feature, but why it was included.
I never attended a brick and mortar school to learn about desktop publishing, but for the past 15 years I have been a charter student at the school of expensive mistakes. I started with PageMaker 4.0 and QuarkXPress 3.1 and have been using layout applications to produce student textbooks ever since. But even though Gémy's book is aimed at beginners, I found several helpful hints in it.
Today my favorite layout application is Scribus, not that its commercial competitors don't have a few more features (they do), but being in the open source world my documents are not hostage to forced expensive updates. If you have a substantial knowledge of desktop publishing, buy Gémy's book to get a quick introduction to Scribus. If you know nothing about desktop publishing, buy both.