“My Grandma Mary” update

I seem to have jumped through all the hoops to get a proof copy of “My Grandma Mary” printed by Lightning Source! I got an email today confirming the order from last week. The holiday has slowed things down but if I understand how it works, I should have the proof copy in my hand this week! I’m really excited to see it. If everything looks good than I will make it available for sell asap. My mom is usually really patient about histories but on this one she asks me about it every time I talk to her. It has taken a long time to get to this point. I’ve learned so much. But I’m sure there is a lot more to learn.

One thing I’ve realized is I’m glad there are places like Blurb and places like Lightning Source. Even though they are both print on demand companies their business models and target customers are completely different. I can see that I’ll be using both companies in the future depending on the project. For small runs, Blurb is a better choice. For books with a larger audience Lightning Source can be the better choice. While Blurb has a higher price per book they have no set up costs and no on going cost to keep the book available to print. While LSI has a much cheaper price per book they set up cost of about $100 mean you have to order at least a certain number of books to make it more cost-effective than Blurb. In the case of “My Grandma Mary” you have to order at least 5 copies to make LSI a more cost-effective option.

I’m still waiting to see how the quality of Lightning Source compares to Blurb.



A Few Things

I hope everyone is getting ready to enjoy the 4th of July. I’ve just decided to take the next few days off from posting on my blog, but I’ll update a few things first.

We are puppy sitting again. This time it is a 12 week old yellow lab named Redding. He is very light colored with a dark nose and cute as can be. He is doing well. We have him until the 14th when his family gets back from vacation. Dune is enjoying having a play mate.

I finally got Zodiac’s official portrait picked up. I’ll have to take a new photo of our wall and post it here.

I just ordered a proof copy of “My Grandma Mary” from Lightening Source. It should come pretty quick if I created the pdf files properly. It has been a steep learning curve switching from Blurb to LSI. Learning new stuff is good for me but not always comfortable. But to make “My Grandma Mary” available for more than my immediate family we needed to make this move.

Have a good holiday weekend and I’ll be back on track on Monday.

The Many Faces of E-books and Self-Publishing

DOABLE Sidebar DYesterday I talked about printed books. Today lets jump into e-books. There are so many e-book formatsĀ and it is rather overwhelming. But I came across this article, “3 General types of eBooks”, that brings some order to the confusion. If you divide e-books into groups by function you have:

  • basic: this is an e-book in its simplest form, basically just an electronic version of a print book
  • embedded: this type of e-book can have sound, video and animation as part of the content
  • interactive: this is the ultimate type of e-book, more of an app than a book in many ways.

So how does all this effect your decisions in creating your own story project? I would think that many book story projects could easily been converted into basic e-books. There are many cost and sharing advantages to this. In its simplest form exporting your finished book to a pdf document takes just a few seconds in most software that you have created your book in. This works great for view the book on a computer but not so great for tablets or e-readers. This is where things get more complicated. You will need to pick an e-book format depending on what platform your book will be read on.

Doing an embedded e-book means developing more content than a printed book. You will want to add sound and or video etc. While an interactive e-book takes a whole new set of skills to complete. Not suitable for a first story project or even a second unless you already have the knowledge or the resources to tackle that project.

For “My Grandma Mary” book, I plan to publish it as a basic pdf e-book shortly after the print version is available. Then I want to figure out how to format it for the iPad, Kindle and Nook. I know that Blurb has an option to publish your book to iPad for a fee. I’ll have to look into that too. Part of that project may be adding some interactive elements such as sound and links on the hidden images. I’m excited to learn about how to do this and I’ll be sure to share it here.

What are your feelings on the shift from print to e-books? Do you have an e-book story project in mind?


Printing Options for Publishing Your Story Project Book

DOABLE Sidebar DSo you have decided that your story project will be a book and you’re really excited about it and ready to take the next step. Pause for just a moment and think about how you are going to publish your finished book. There are more options for publishing a book than ever before. Here are the main ones that I can think of:

  • traditional – usually one place for printing another for binding
  • print on demand – on-line
  • local copy center
  • self printing from your computer with your printer

Each option has advantages and disadvantages and each one has requirements that you will want to keep in mind as you begin your story project. One of the most important reasons to decide which route you are taking is so that you will know what size and file format requirements your choice will have so you don’t end up with some unexpected glitch near the end of your story project. I won’t go into great detail here on each one but just give some of the pros and cons of each option.

Traditional Printing:

I don’t have direct personal experience with using a traditional printer but I’ve some indirect knowledge and what I learned in college. If you are wanting to print a large number of books upfront it is an option that should be considered. My books so far have a very limited audience so this hasn’t been a consideration. It might be an option for “My Grandma Mary” in the near future.


  • low-cost per book
  • fully customizable


Print On Demand

This is a great option for most story project books. There are lots of print on demand companies. My favorite is Blurb, but I haven’t tried all of them. The quality varies and the options vary from company to company so check around and find one that fits your needs and understand the size and format requirements. Print on demand sites are not flexible on how your files are uploaded to their servers.


  • small number of books
  • quick turn around


  • higher cost per book
  • limited number of options

Local Copy Center

Depending on your story project the local copy center might be a good alternative if you are doing a project in a standard letter-size format and are happy with the binding options they have. Don’t assume that this will be you.


  • quick turn around
  • local business


  • lower quality binding options
  • variability in knowledge, quality and cost


This is how I did the first few books I published for my family. It was a good way for me to get started but between the cost of the ink and the number of hours I spent baby sitting my printer I wouldn’t do it again unless it is for a project which is small in the number of pages and the number of books. A neighbor has told me about retrofitting his printer with a continuous ink supply system that I’m anxious to hear more about. It cuts the cost of printing from home dramatically. I’ll let you know when I learn more about it.


  • total control


  • binding options
  • not usually cost-effective
  • time intensive

There is no single printing option that is right for all story project books. So look at each project and pick the option that makes the best sense for that story project. Just make sure that you look at the options at the earliest stages of the story project.

What printing options have you used in the past? Do you have any words of advice for others?


Gift Idea #7 – Children’s Story Book

If you have followed my blog you know how excited I am about the illustrated children’s story book we are working on about my great-great-grandmother, Mary Taylor. Even though we won’t have this project finished for Christmas it would make a great gift. (Our deadline is actually for my mom’s 90th birthday in March.) With the Mary book I try to imagine it being used as a bed time story for Mary’s many descendants.

Do you have a family story that would lend itself to a story with illustrations? The pictures could be simple drawings or you could set up a photo shoot and have “actors” dress up to illustrate the story. The text doesn’t have to be complicated or long, the illustrations will help tell the story. Publishing could be as simple as printing it on your computer and/or taking it to your local copy center to make copies and have it bound. Of course a print on demand service such as Blurb or Lulu would also work. I think this project would be a perfect way to share one of your family stories with the next generation. Plus I think that even the older members of your family will take the time to read a short illustrated story when they would never take the time to read a long family history book.

Enhanced ebooks – Cookbooks

by Aruna Khanzada

Here is some more info on Blurb‘s new enhanced ebooks. I think it sound intriguingĀ  add sound and video to a book. I can’t wait to try this out. I wish I could drop all my other projects and play around with this. The video below is about Aruna Khanzada who has made more than 200 Blurb books. She describes what inspired her to write her books. I am inspired by her story.

Curry Base Video

Curry Base Book Preview


Make a Free Ebook

Blurb recently introduced the option to make your traditional book publishing projects and to entice people to try it they are offering the conversion for free for the next three days. Starting October 18, 2012 the charge will be USD $9.99 for each book. Go here to get more information.

I hope I can take a few minutes in the next three days and try this out. Have you used a service like Blurb to do an ebook. The closest I’ve come to doing an ebook is creating a pdf document. I know so little about this that I’m not sure the differences. Blurb’s ebooks are for the iPad.


Enhanced Ebooks

I love the idea of the ability to embed media like video in the context of a book. Ebooks have that potential. In the next few years I believe that we will see the power of ebooks come into their own. I can’t wait to explore to learn the skill and explore the possibilities of this medium.

image from Robert Leslie’s book Stormbelt

I found an interview with Robert Leslie, a photographer know for his photographic journeys, about a resent project he calls Stormbelt. You can find the interview here on Blurberati Blog. I’m intrigued with the idea of having both a print and digital version of a book. It is an interesting project that I think you will enjoy.

Stormbelt Book Preview

Stormbelt Ebook Preview

Publishing Your Story – Traditional vs. eBook

I came across and interesting post a few weeks ago on the FamilySearch Blog about traditional publishing vs. eBook publishing and was very interested in James Tanner’s view on this subject with the continued improvements and use of eBooks. You can read the post here.

Publishing Your Genealogy – Traditional vs. eBook

He shared an outline of how books were published in the past that was interesting.

  • Writing
  • Editing
  • Table of Contents and Indexing
  • Inserting Illustrations
  • Formatting for Printing (book layout, fonts)
  • Proof Reading
  • Typesetting
  • Application for ISBN/Copyright
  • Proof Print
  • Printing Pages
  • Binding
  • Distribution and/or Sales

Having only done self-publishing through print on demand I hadn’t ever thought of all these steps in publishing a book. It is wonderful that through modern technology we have other options to print just a few copies of a book or even just one at a very reasonable price. Traditional printing methods were not cost-effective unless you printed a large number of books. And face it, most of the stories we want to share just don’t have that wide of an appeal but that doesn’t make them any less important to us or our family and friends.

James Tanner points out that today all the above steps can now be done by the writer but we can still contract out any of these steps to someone else, including writing the book. I have one issue with his information about print on demand. He wrote:

Today, there are book publishing machines that will publish one book or a hundred. The cost of the first book is very reasonable. The major drawback for those wanting legacy materials is that the binding is limited to softcover perfect (glued) binding.

It might be true that some on-line printers only offer softcover perfect bound books, but I know that Blurb’s softcover books are perfect bound or glued. They also have hardcover books and their website says “our Hardcover books feature library binding.” This got me curious so I dug deeper and found some information to suggest that blurb hardcover books less than 120 pages our stitched from the side but their large hardcover books are glued or perfect bound. This seems to be mostly true. I checked the blurb books that I have here. The 440 page Europe! is not stitched it is glued. While the 9 7×7 books between 40 and 80 pages are all stitched except 1. So that was some interesting research. I’ll have to see if I can find out more.

Here is what James Tanner had to say about eBooks:

With the popularity of eBook readers such as the Kindle and the Apple iPad, publishing a book electronically is more than a fad. If you look at the New York Times Best Sellers List, you may be surprised to find that many of the best selling books are now available only in eBook format. One advantage of publishing a book in eBook format is that it can be updated at any time and distributed in a variety of formats. EBook publishing is exactly like traditional publishing except for the final printing and binding. There is still a need for good writing skills and the book files have to be adapted for a variety of electronic book readers.

Just as with more traditional publishing you can do these steps yourself even to the “printing” on your own computer. One simple option is to publish in a PDF format and distribute that to family and friends. May eReaders can read PDF documents but in my experience their are challenges with the small size of the screen and PDF documents that letter size. The text can be difficult or impossible to read with the entire page on the screen or you have to do lots of scrolling around to read the text.

If the book is just text there are simple enough ways to export it for eBooks using a word processor. But for me the images are at least as important as the words. And I’m not sure how you design for the fluidity of an eReader with images. There is new software that helps with formatting for eBooks so maybe it isn’t as hard as it seems to me. I love the idea of eBooks with embedded media but have yet to see how it works for projects like sharing family stories.

I agree with James Tanners basic assessment:

Whether you publish your book on paper or electronically, you will find that it takes considerable time and effort. Electronic publishing may cut out some of the steps necessary for a paper publication, but the quality and readability of the book has to be adapted for online or eBook reading.

It will be interesting to see how eBooks effect self publishing in the future. I believe that the best way may be to use both mediums so that we reach a broader audience and greater likelihood that our stories will be safe for the future to enjoy. Hopefully there are ways to make this as painless as possible.