Sunday, May 16, 2010

Blog Books: Up Close and Personal

Ever since I started this blog in April 2007, people have been asking me when I'm going to print my blog posts into a book.   I knew that eventually I'd like to do it, especially since it took me approximately 3 days of blogging before it completely replaced my time spent scrapbooking.  Unfortunately, by the time I started researching the prospect seriously I had over 600 posts. 

The main company I kept hearing about was Blurb.  So sometime last year I downloaded their software and got to work creating my books.  It didn't take long before I realized I had a very big problem.  When uploading my pictures to the internet I always significantly reduced the size to make them easier to load.  Although they looked fine online, not a single one of them was good enough quality to print.  Suddenly I was faced with the overwhelmingly monumental task of hand replacing every single one of my photos with the higher quality version from my computer.  In other words, I was going to get it done in about 57 years.  

I dabbled with it here and there and tried to make headway on it, but  it wasn't going anywhere fast.  Now fast forward to 2010 and  I have over 1000 posts and still no book.  Then I heard from my friend Andrea about Blog2Print.  At first I thought it would be another big waste of time, but when she mentioned it only took her about 20 minutes to complete her book I was completely intrigued.  20 minute projects are just about perfect for my attention span! 

I got off to a rocky start getting my blog downloaded and had to call the company (where a real person answered the first time), but after a 5-minute phone call my blog was downloaded and I was ready to make my books.   

The hardest part about the whole process was making a few decisions (outlined below), but shockingly it really did only take about 20 minutes.  

 Here's a glimpse of our first two books along with some of the choices you'll have when you order:

There were several unique cover styles to choose from, so I just picked a different one for each book.   

Soft covers were slightly cheaper, but we viewed these as a family history type of investment so we chose the hard covers.   The binding and page quality are both excellent. 
 The pictures are a little on the small side, but I was so thrilled not to have to replace them all with higher quality pictures that I couldn't care less!  

 Because of the way I blog using pictures, I wanted the entries to be laid out as they were on the blog.  My friend Andrea chose the scrapbook style layout which grouped the pictures and words in a more space saving manner, but I did not feel that that style would have worked well with most of my posts. 

Although they added numerous pages onto the length of our books, we really wanted the comments to be a part of the books.  We felt that they added a lot of personality to each post and that it wouldn't have captured the essence of our blog as well without them. 


In summary, we are thrilled with our new family yearbooks and would highly recommend them to anyone! 

In case you're shopping around, here's what I deem to be the pros and cons of working with Blog2Print over working with Blurb (although I have to disclose I never actually ordered a Blurb book, since I could never get past the planning stages). 

Pros of Blog2Print
  • Super quick and easy to put together (totally finished a book with a whole year of posts in 20-30 minutes)
  • Good quality books
  • Didn't have to switch all my photos out for higher quality versions
  • Choice to include comments or not
  • Choice to leave out individual posts
  • The choice to make your posts as short as possible (scrapbook style) or to keep them as they're written (in relation to the placement of the photos)
  • Excellent customer service (via phone or live chat)

Cons of Blog2Print vs Blurb
  •  No ability to tweak individual posts (like changing out the picture or correcting a typo)
  • The layout on every page is the same (however you've determined you want it)
  • Cost (I actually don't really know how this compares to Blurb, since I never ordered from them, but I did feel like my books were a little pricey ~400 pages for ~$110 or so and I couldn't find an online coupon anywhere.  Really, though, it was WELL worth the price just for the time I saved!)
  • Photos rather small



Meeks said...

Good on you! I never thought about transforming my blog into a book. ;) Thanks for the idea!

Lisa @ Pulsipher Page said...

I did the exact same thing! I wanted to make a blog book, looked into Blurb, got overwhelmed, heard about Blog2print and ordered it from them in about 15 minutes. I'm so happy with ours too.

Your 365 project sounds interesting. I would love a year in pictures. Was it hard to keep up?

Lisa @ Pulsipher Page said...

fyi: when I upload pictures from my computer I always click on the large option. It used to be set on small but I like it better this way.

alexandra said...

Holy Cow! That is so cool and it gives some of us hope that it truly can be done. Did you ever think you'd be a published author?

Andie said...

The books look great! About the same price as Blurb, too.

Deanne said...

Looks great! I can't wait to get started on my own book. Thanks for the tips.

Grandpa-Grandma Crain said...

Lara, we will pay for a copy for mom and I.

Can you order another copy.


K said...

You must've put up this post while I was on vacation, because I don't remember ever seeing it.

Annette said...

I am so pleased to read this review. I have been planning on printing out my family blog, and I appreciate learning from you. However, knowing that you print out all the comments ... should we be more discerning in what we comment?

Ashley said...

Hmm...this gives me something to think about. I didn't know about the company Blog2Print. Like you, I've had a blog for quite some time(in 2009 when my baby was born, the frequency of posting doubled). One day I entered a give-away for a $50 gift certificate to Blurb and I won. I was thrilled because I had heard I could convert my blog posts to books. But like you, I was highly disappointed when I discovered the poor image quality (the images to me are pretty much the most important part). So I undertook the very painstaking process of uploading each picture one by one and organizing the layout of each page. I was up against a 1 month time limit (the $50 gift card would expire). I got it done, but at the expense of most everything else (primarily sleep). So, now I have 1 book (for my 2008 year which had significantly less posts then any other year). Every "to do" list I make since then says FINISH BLURB BOOKS (for years 2009-2011), but like you I think that may take me 57 years. :-) I'll have to look into Blog2Print. I just wish I could correct typos and change layout etc. I'm kind of a control freak.

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