Archive-Along part 4: Making a book from your blog

07 Apr 2010


Here's another interesting way to archive your blog - have sections of it made into printed and bound books. With publishing technology evolving rapidly, it's not all that expensive to do.

This kind of publishing is called print on demand publishing. Basically, you'd create a book layout from the words and images on your blog, and send it to the publisher. But print on demand publishers can print and bind just one copy of your book at a time, if that's all you want. If you do this process regularly, then over time, your blog could be represented by a nice row of books on your bookshelf!

You probably wouldn't want to archive your entire blog in this way, but you might choose your best posts each month and create a book, or create a book using all your posts about a specific subject - or, all your tutorial posts.

Currently, there are two major print-on-demand book publishers catering to the consumer market: and Both are fairly easy to use and comparably priced. I'll give you a little glimpse of each. And then, I'll show you a magazine-based option: MagCloud.

Option #1: actually does printing and distribution for indie publishers of all kinds, so you may have to dig around a bit on their website to find the options you need to make your blog book.

I recommend starting with this pricing page, which will help you decide up front how many pages, what kind of binding, and how much color you can afford. Believe me, it's a whole lot easier to start with a page-count goal and build your book to that. I can attest that it's rather painful to build your book first and then discover how much it'll cost to print!

You can use Word or any other page payout program to build a PDF file of your book. Lulu offers downloadable templates (scroll down on that link) for you to use in building the covers and interior pages of your book, so that the layout conforms to their printing specifications.

(Basically, you would choose the posts you wanted to archive into your book, copy the text, and paste it into your layout. Then you could add the images from your computer or Flickr.)

Or, for a simpler option, you might want to focus on Lulu's Photo Book products, which would work nicely for a blog book. There's a rather nifty web-based application called Lulu Studio that lets you build your book one layout at a time, dragging and dropping photos and adding text. You can choose from a set of page layout options. You can also choose from a selection of overall book themes, and the photo books come in a nice range of sizes.

Then, if you are so inclined, you can even sell your book in the Lulu Marketplace.

Option #2:

Blurb's services are a little more focused on the blog-book maker. Once again, I recommend starting with their pricing page so you know in advance how many pages you can afford.

With Blurb, you can make your own PDF, using either their downloadable templates for InDesign, or their layout specifications. They have a number of publishing guides to help you through the process.

Or, you can download their free BookSmart software to your computer. (It's compatible with Mac or PC.) If you don't mind the download and install, this option gives you a nice, walk-you-through-it interface, with pricing and design options built in.

If you blog on Blogger, Live Journal, TypePad, or have a free Wordpress blog, you can even import your posts right into the book layout. (Sorry, those of us who have our own hosted blogs are out of luck on that feature.)

Otherwise, you can import images from your computer or Flickr, and then paste in text from your blog. As with Lulu, you can choose an overall theme for your book, and then build the layout from a selection of page layout templates. BookSmart is very easy to use.

Blurb also offers an online store in case you want to sell copies of your blog book.

Option #3: MagCloud

MagCloud is also a print-on-demand publisher, but it prints magazines instead of books, and it prints them at a flat rate of 20 cents per page. If you want to archive a bigger chunk of your blog in book form, this might be a more affordable option.

You'd begin by creating a PDF from the posts on your blog that you want to archive. MagCloud offers downloadable templates for a wide range of layout programs, including MS Word, Photoshop, MS Publisher, Pages, Scribus, InDesign, and QuarkXpress.

Whereas Lulu and Blurb let you choose various sizes for your book project, MagCloud printing is all 8 1/2" x 11". And with MagCloud, you'd need to create your own page layouts.

I'm in the process of using MagCloud to make paper versions of my ebooks, and I can tell you, the print quality is amazing. The magazines are printed on a heavy weight, satin-finish paper. Very substantial and nice.

The Archive-Along continues...

Rachel will have post tomorrow about archiving your tweets, and one on Friday about tear sheets, and then our Archive-Along week wraps up. If you missed any of the posts, you can keep up on them at the project page. If you blog about archiving, we'd love to link to you, too!



Woooooooooo, Dot - that's one heck of an idea. Thank you so much for posting that here!

Wow, this is such a well-done blog series, and you have done so much work on this. I know how hard this can be. It's really helpful, though. I've often thought of using Lulu for my blog, because I bought Hanna Andersson's book and the production values are really top notch.

This is incredible information. I have to come back here and go through all of this....great to have this so accessible. THANK YOU SO MUCH! I will be back! Best to you, Sondra

Diane, I just wanted to point out that if you have a self hosted Wordpress blog, you can always create a blog for free and import your blog into it. If that would allow you to do the automatic creation .

thanks for all this great info!

I hadn't heard of magcloud, and I love the idea :)

Thanks for the magcloud link! I'd only really heard of Lulu :)

I've often used Photobooks or MyPublisher. I like the quality of the printed books, and they make perfect keepsakes. Especially if you write family related posts.

I love the archive-along, and of course the show where you interviewed me could be used as inspiration for the book makers out there! Reading all your interesting stuff about publishing makes me want to make more blog books... :-) And yes, can we see photos of your magcloud project? I think it's a cool site but when I last checked they only ship to US.

Right you are, Hanna - and here's the link to that podcast:

I'll have more to show on the MagCloud project down the road. The process of getting them ready to print is really easy. I'm just working out how to take those international orders.

funny, i just saw this in the little sidebar when i published my blog post today -- blog2print will print book versions of blogger blogs. I'm not sure how much layout you can do, or what it looks like, but funny it should come up so serendipitously!

Yes, I saw that one, too! I tried it, and found the user interface to be really clunky - at least on my Mac. Maybe it's a better option for Windows users.

Thank you, Chris! I'm so glad you liked it. We had a great time putting it together!