On Sun, 12 Feb 2012 05:53:27 -0800
Colin Williams <co...@seattlesoft.com> wrote:

> I'm writing a book. I would like to consider the possibility that I
> will do a small print run of 1000-5000 copies. I am certain I'm going
> to publish it as an ebook. I would expect the printed book would be
> in paperback form. I would like the lyx-users to tell me if they
> think its the right tool for the job. I know lyx is nice for making
> mathematics papers,but is it good for making a book which you want to
> reformat for displays and printed pages of varying sizes? Are there
> other programs I should consider?

Hi Colin,

The following is all *my opinion*, and should be taken in tandem with
the opinions of others.

I've written and am selling something like nine books, all but two of
which were written in LyX:


I use LyX because it's the easiest and quickest authoring environment
for writing big books, and it's versatile enough although
antiquated WordPerfect 5.1 has it beat in versatility. LyX also
produces the best-formatted result, although that's not an issue in my
case because both WordPerfect 5.1 and MS Word produce formatting that
are good enough for my marketplace. Of all my books, only "The Key to
Everyday Excellence" contains math, and the math it contains is about
5% of the book at most.

I've found MS Word to be an excellent book writing software also, as
long as 1) You format with styles and not by introducing individual
codes, and 2) You don't need the professional page layout yielded by
LyX and other LaTeX-based programs. In fact, both of those caveats are
true in my case. The reason I switched was simple enough -- there's no
MS Word for Linux, so when I switched to Linux in 2001, I switched to
LyX at the same time.

Bottom line: I use LyX because it authors fast enough and easily enough
that I don't usually forget my train of thought doing wordprocessor
logistics, and because it runs on my operating system.

You are writing a book destined to be both eBook and as a print
book, paperback format (I would think probably trade-paperback format
although you don't say). I'd say the primary person to answer your
question is your publisher. If your publisher wants it in MS-Word, give
it in MS-Word. If he wants it in LaTeX, give it in LaTeX. Docbook,
Docbook. By the way, if I'm correctly informed, LyX can export to
Docbook, and right as we speak Rob Oakes is writing a program to
convert LyX to MS Word, so you're pretty much covered by LyX. Also, if
by eBook you mean flowing-text, I wrote a program to convert LyX to
flowing-text .mobi, which calibre can easily convert to a high
quality .epub. My conversion program is here:


My conversion program is pretty iffy -- you'll probably need to tweak
it a little to get the conversion to work, but it sure worked for me --
here's my LyX-authored Kindle book:


Now if you're doing self-publishing, and using the printer just to
print a PDF you send him, my personal viewpoint would be to use LyX.
Life's too short to use other stuff.

Whether your eBook will be PDF or flowable text, you'll need your eBook
LyX file and your print book LyX file to be slightly different. I'm
pretty sure you can maintain one LyX file (perhaps formatting to
8.5x11, or A1 if you're European, and then have a couple shellscripts
to convert that to either an eBook specific LyX file, or a print book
specific LyX file.

LyX is a LaTeX front-end. There are other LaTeX front ends, and I can't
speak to their quality. I know a lot of people who advocate
directly writing LaTeX or TeX. Personally, I think LyX is much faster
from an authoring standpoint than editing LaTeX. I think if you have a
very simple book, authoring in straight TeX is both simple enough and
fast enough to compete with LyX, but I don't do that, because some of
my books are complex enough to benefit from LyX, and I want to use one
program for all my authoring to maximally leverage my skills.

LyX has one huge downside you should know about. Creating new styles,
either character styles or paragraph styles (which are called
"environments" in LyX), is a major undertaking requiring some LaTeX
knowledge. The same paragraph style that would take 15 minutes in MS
Word could take a day in LyX. MS Word has a 32x speed advantage while
creating styles. But, as they say, although statistics don't lie, liars
can state statistics. If you have 20 hard to make styles, you save 20
days in stylemaking going with MS Word. But when you ammortize that 20
days over the time taken to write a 200 page book, 20 days is NOTHING.
And of course, if you get a few of those MS Word "oops, I can no longer
read myself" problems, and haven't backed up religiously, you just blew
your 20 days.

My recommendation to people is, as they need new styles, use LyX's
"Copystyle" feature to make the new style in the simplest and quickest
way possible so you can get back to work and not forget your authoring
train of thought. This gives you the ability to format paragraphs in
the new style immediately. Then later, on a day when you put on your
"technologist" hat, make those styles exactly what you want them,
probably on a much shorter document for quicker compile cycles.

In order to make the use of styles easier for those who follow me, I've
written lots of documentation on the subject. Here's a list of links to
my various LyX documentations:


The decision whether or not to use LyX for book authoring isn't a
simple one. All I can say is that my decision has been to use LyX
consistently to write books, and my last 7 books have been written in

Best of luck with your new bookwriting career, and I hope this helps.


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