I mentioned long go I was printing this blog at home and binding it into books. Well, I did. I started in April and finished in July, working slowly, just plugging away. There was 5 years worth—a book for each year, except for the first, which was 2 volumes.
This could be the longest post in the world and I am kind of overwhelmed at trying to describe just how I did this and everything I have to say about it, so I will just list many many bullet points. Here are few reasons I made these myself instead of using one of the many blog-to-book services out there:
- I didn't want a cheesy cover.
- I didn't want to have to format at all.
- I had tried other websites and after uploading nightmares, I still had to spend hours formatting.
- Buying 5 years worth of books (at over $130 each) was going to cost a small fortune. I wanted to spend as little time on the computer for this as possible.
- I was wiling to spend my time binding, printing, and making the books instead. (Also swearing, making multiple trips to the copy shop and office supply shop, and dealing with misprints, errors, and some glue mishaps.)
I felt compelled to do this because I realized while going through my grandparents' belongings this summer, just how important it is to preserve some of what I do, if I can.
My grandmother was a newspaper writer and had a regular column. We were concerned her articles weren't saved and I was almost sick about it. But she did keep them, we finally found the binder, and I thought about how ephemeral the internet is and how this blog of mine exists in this sort of unreal environment and wanted to get a physical copy in the house. I could go on a bit here about how a printed blog is totally different, because it's not interactive, the links don't work, and the comments don't appear (it would be too long to print) so I just have to think of it as a different format altogether, which is it.
So here's what I did—
- I used Blog2Print and bought the PDF option which was under $8 per book. I tried making the PDF myself without this service, which worked, but there was no formatting so many of the photos were cut in half. So, I bought PDF option for a year at a time, then I would finish a book and then start another. I used the option they provide to make the posts as space saving as possible. This means not all posts fit on one page, but it DOES mean there was no formatting on my part at all.
- I deleted the table of contents pages they provided, which was like, 13 extra pages.
- I printed these at home on my cheap printer and they looked just fine. (HP Deskjet 810c)
- I used the heaviest weight paper (24lb) for a laser printer (even though I have an ink jet) so I could print double-sided with no bleed through. The paper worked great.
- I printed them double-sided which sometimes worked well and other times was a disaster, caused me to almost cry, and was a real challenge if I ran out of ink midway.
- I had to buy ink twice for these 6 books, and 3 reams of 500 sheets of paper, along with bookbinders board, glue, all that. It ended up being about $30 a book. I don't totally remember, but it was way less than the roughly $135-150 the sites were changing me for a finished bound book.
- I also got quotes at copy shops if I sent the PDF to them to print and it was about $1 a sheet. Most of my books were about 200+ sheets each (printed on both sides) so that wasn't a good option.
- I had these velo bound at a copy shop (which uses that little strip of black plastic) after I printed them, then made a cover and cased them in out of bookbinders board, book cloth, and bookbinding know-how from my college days.
- I can't really explain how to do this type of bookbinding in a post. If you know how to case in a text block, you are good to go. You can see a good video of how to case in text blocks at Paper Source. It's not exactly as easy as this because of the velo strip, but I was still able to do it with some tape cover up on the inside cover. Not perfect, but just fine. I would not use this project to learn how to case in a text block. Just saying.
- I could have had the books coil bound, or comb bound at a copy shop, but had my heart set on having hard back books.
- Along with making labels for the front covers, I was going to label the spines, but preferred the minimal look and also nothing seems to adhere to this book binding cloth I used.
I am really happy with how these turned out. Now. At the time it was sort of horrible. Occasionally it was tolerable, but making 6 was a drag, even though I spaced it out almost all summer. I made different mistakes every time. It was sort of maddening. But now they are done, and I love being able to show them to the girls and look up old posts without turning on the computer. And, next year I only have to make one. Whew.