A few weeks ago, in the comments here, a high school friend asked something like, "How do you pick which pictures to put into albums?" I was forced to admit that--other than the photo albums of my childhood made by my grandmother--we have no offline photo albums.
It's not for lack of trying. The problem is that this blog is our family record. And a blog is a really good medium for keeping such a record. You can do a little each day. It's easy to add pictures, and even the occasional video. I can make it look just like I want it to. It's superior to paper in every way, except one--permanence.
It's something Sweet Husband and I have talked about in the way that some couples talk about remarriage, "If I died an early, tragic death, how long would you keep paying my hosting fees?"
As such, I've been looking for good "blog to book" services for years now. Lots of people love Blurb, but every time I've tried it, it feels like it's not really meant for people who post five days a week. It was going to be a mind-numbing amount of work to transform my book from "here are all my blog posts printed out and slapped together" into an album I would treasure. Every time I got started, I quickly gave up.
Enter Artifact Uprising. I followed a random pin back to their site, and loved how beautiful their books were. Inspired by my friend's comment and the number of snow days we've had recently, I started playing.
First, let me say, this wasn't a perfect solution. If you decide you want a softcover book when you're 50 pages into designing a hardcover one you have to start completely over. If you decide that the picture you put on page 2 really needs to be on page 45...start over. Somewhere on their site it says that they understand that this is a real problem and they're trying to fix it. I really hope they can, because--had I not been stuck in my house anyway--it would have been a deal breaker.
Also, the print quality is not perfect. It's good--and, in full disclosure, Sweet Husband even thinks I'm being too picky--but when you're used to viewing photos rendered in light (like on a computer screen or a slide) instead of in ink (like a print), I think the print always comes a little short.
Lastly, they don't have a way to set the font for the entire book. There are four or five font choices, and I wanted one consistently throughout the book. I had to manually remember to set it for each page, and, of course, I forgot on one page. Again, perhaps it's nit-picky, but it's something that could be easily improved.
With that all gotten out, though, I'm really very happy with my finished book.
I decided to do a softcover book, which can be anywhere from 40 to 100 pages. Starting at the beginning of 2012, I manually imported my blog posts, which let me pick out the ones I really wanted to save. For some I just imported words, for some pictures, and for some both. Once I figured out that I needed to plan a little before I started--to avoid starting over--it went quite smoothly. I enjoyed the preset picture layouts and the simplicity of the pages--no funky colors or goofy frames, just a pretty book.
I still have several years to catch up on--I'd like to get books of some sort made back to 2004, which is the year Sweet Husband and I got married--but it's nice to at least feel like I have a system in place going forward. I like the idea of making it an annual January project to sit down and chronicle the year before. I like the idea of having my memories tucked up on my shelf where they can't be erased by an errant mouse click. I like having my words printed.
[P.S. Thanks to everyone who answered my breakfast question yesterday! I enjoyed reading all the different perspectives and mulling them over.]