Friday, July 1, 2011

Mama & Papa: A Love Story

Ever wondered how Haki and I met? Love books?
Read on.

You see, I was invited to review Blurb.*

What is it?
Blurb is a high-end photographic book publisher that allows anyone to create professional quality books.

(A sneak peek at my book - Esky "reading" it to Ivy after I read it to her twice.)

What did I do?
  • Mulled over the possible subject matter for my book-to-be, for ages. What to print?
  • Had a baby.
  • Settled on creating a book that summed up, in brief, my courtship with Haki, for my posterity to read.
  • Selected Blurb's Booksmart as my weapon of choice (there are three book-making utility options) - the one I chose was a programme for download.
  • Spent a loooong time creating the pages (all 54 of them, excluding the cover) for the book in Adobe Photoshop Elements (pse) and then uploading them as images for each page, set to full bleed.
  • Ordered my completed book as a small 18x18cm square, Hardcover ImageWrap (5 June).
  • Checked the mail eagerly every day from a week thereafter...
  • ...until my book arrived, today (1 July), and I tore the package open and squealed.
What I enjoyed about my book-making experience with Blurb:
  • Opening a self-sent parcel. Was that part unclear?
  • My book would have cost AUD $51.92 (excl. shipping), had I been paying...so let's be honest - I enjoyed not paying. But for a hardcover book with glossy colour printing and shipping, that's less than a buck a page - not bad, right?
  • The "Get inspired" shortcut on the homepage takes you to a 3D preview
    of books made using Blurb. It is inspiring.
  • The quirky injections of personality you can find all over the site. My order confirmation came from "The Blurberati." /snort.
  • Booksmart's autosave - no one likes to lose work. Unless maybe their work was illegal work and the police had just showed up.
  • Booksmart, as a tool, reminded me of iMovie or Windows Moviemaker, in that a storyboard runs along the base of the page, allowing you to easily drop in and rearrange images easily from a bank of uploaded files in the left plane.
  • The people behind Blurb - those I dealt with anyway - are fantastic.
  • Tailoring my book. Yes, I designed each page, but not only that, I could add my own little message to the back cover and I used my own fonts. This matters to a fontophile.(back cover)
  • Being able to share the book easily (embedding, FBing, emailing - whatever) - a big plus. That's right, keep reading if you want to read the book.
A couple of things that were harder/less pleasant than I'd expected:
  • Not having the book in my hands as soon as I'd finished it. Waiting is hard. This really isn't Blurb's problem though, is it? I haven't heard of any instantanous printers.
  • The three book-making tools - Bookify, BookSmart and PDF to Book - are loosely beginner, intermediate and advanced options. Unfortunately, the "advanced" tool (which offers full creative reign) requires the use of Adobe InDesign, which I don't own - thus my workaround with pse.
  • Finding flaws once the book was in my hands...and accepting they were all my own. Somehow I deleted a letter from the book's title on the spine (/sniff...Who am I kidding? /sob), made a grammatical error, and misaligned a few things inside. It's harder to proofread these things onscreen though sometimes, isn't it? Right?
  • And some text didn't print as crisp as I'd like - a consequence of uploading images with text, methinks.
  • I didn't let Haki proof-read it - because I wanted the book to be a surprise - and when he did he pointed out that I've written the book so that it sounds as though I was born while Haki was ON his mission, not that my entire parellel childhood section was concurrent to his. (Read the book, you'll see what I mean.) Get someone to proof-read yours!
So, wanna read it?
(click the button to the far right to view full-screen)

Want to know more about Blurb? You can read Sarah or Stella's review.
Want to know more about our meeting? This isn't enough? Check out the follow-up post.

*Invited by Sarah. And yes, I received my own free custom-made book as part of the review process...but I am still allowed to speak freely about what I think.
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