Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why I decided to print my blog with Lulu

Well, I did it! I printed my blog! I know most of you saw my other post about Blog2Print and Blurb, so which one did I go with? I went with……Lulu!


That's right! An entirely different company than the ones we were discussing last time! Why? Well, for a lot of reasons. I'll explain below. I heard about Lulu from my friend Lizzy, who had used it to make a blog book for her sister. She had a great experience with Lulu, and a several hundred page book only cost her around $40. Well, that got my attention. So, I looked into them, and I really liked what I found. So, I printed a Lulu blog book! Here's why:


Blog2Print vs. Blurb vs. Lulu

What I was working with: The first year of my blog, from May 2010 - December 2010. Sixty-five posts.

What I wanted:
  • My biggest priority was that the format of my blog be preserved. I wanted the text, photos, and photo captions in exactly the same places they appeared in my blog posts. Shockingly, neither Blog2Print nor Blurb could deliver on this (seemingly obvious!) desire.
  • Good quality hard cover
  • Good quality paper
  • Cover customization options (to be able to be able to use my own background, be able to change the font, size, and location of the title, etc.)
  • The option of starting each post on its own page
  • The comments to be included 
  • The posts to be transferred, by the site, without manual work on my part

What I didn't care about:
  • Color. I'm still planning on making photobooks for these same time periods, and since I'll have high quality color pictures in the photobooks, I don't care if these pictures are black and white. I just want to preserve my blog.
  • Picture Size. This goes right along with what I just said. Since I'm planning on having these pictures in a high-quality form elsewhere, the picture quality in the blog book can be lower as long as it's still reasonably good.

What I did:
I went on to each site and previewed what my blog book would look like. With Blog2Print, you give them your blog address and they make a preview to look at in just a couple minutes. With Blurb, you first need to download their BookSmart software. Once you've installed that on your computer, you enter your blog name and password, and they create the book in BookSmart. With Lulu, you personally make a PDF of your blog posts and upload it to their site.


Blog2Print

Things I liked about Blog2Print:
  • The ease of use. With just a few clicks, it transferred my whole blog into a book.
  • Options to include or delete posts and comments. First, it gives you the option of including all of the comments or none of them. I chose all. It then transfers the entire blog, and then you can go through (if you want) and choose to exclude certain posts or comments. I liked that you could keep only what you wanted to.
  • The book had a nice table of contents

Why I chose not to make a Blog2Print blog book:
  • My biggest problem was that even if I chose the option to "preserve the format of my blog," it didn't. Photos that had been vertically lined up were side by side, which wouldn't have been too big of a problem except that it put the photo captions in strange locations so that you couldn't tell which picture they were referring to. Big problem, and pretty much the biggest consideration that turned me off of their site. I want the photo captions to be where they were on my blog - beneath the photo they're referring to. Not on the side, not next to some other photo - where they were next to the original photo. Half my blog is photo captions. It's a big problem if you mess them up.


It also messed up the space between the captions and the text beneath - as you can see here, the caption is not only on the left (it was originally centered beneath the picture), it is also directly before the next line of text (there was originally an empty line of space). Very confusing. The caption now looks as if it's another entry in the list of birds.

  • Awkward page splits. It just gave an awkward feel to the posts when the photos and their captions were separated, which happened quite often.




  • Some of the paragraph formatting of the posts was messed up. It looked fine on the blog and on blogger, but had messed up spacing in the Blog2Print book. 
  • No font choices inside the book for post titles, dates, or text. It was all the standard font.
  • On the spine of the book, the title is flipped. By that I mean that you'd have to tilt your head to the left to read it - the opposite of all other English books. Strange? Yes.
  • Lack of cover customization options. Astoundingly, you have only the freedom to choose the text and picture that go on the cover. You can't change font, font size, or location of the title or picture. You only have 35 background options to choose from, only a few of them are cute. Most of them look like they're from powerpoint from a decade ago. Very outdated and not very stylish, and you can't add one of your own. Not cool. Not cool at all.

Blog2Print Price:

For the time period that I entered, a hardcover full color book would be 136 pages and $65.55. A softcover full color book would be $55.55. A softcover black and white book would be $22.55. Hardcover black and white is not an option. Shipping is free. I would have wanted the hardcover, so my price would have been $65.55.


Blurb

Things I liked about Blurb:
  • It transferred the blog posts without any manual work.
  • Cover customization. You could do it any way you wanted.
  • Each post started on its own page.

Why I chose not to make a Blurb blog book:
  • The main reason was (again) that it didn't preserve the format of my blog. Blurb was an even worse offender than Blog2Print. It transfers your blog over, but it REMOVES THE PICTURES from each and every post and puts them along the side of the page as thumbnails. NOOOOO!!! (shout of fury!!!!!)!#!#! Terrible, terrible, terrible! And do you know what you have to do to put them back in? Resize each and every single one, toggle between two separate screens in Blurb's "BookSmart," mess with the flowing text, put the picture in, hope you can still move it since it automatically goes behind the text and you can't grab it anymore, and basically I want to stop talking about it because it was such a painful process. I mean, terrible. If I had tried to put the pictures back into each of my posts, it would have taken me about a year and I probably would have killed someone.


As you can see, not only were the pictures turned into thumbnails, but they were also (quite commonly) with the wrong post.

  • No option to include comments. I like all of your comments, and I want them preserved with the blog. It's a serious flaw that this wasn't an option with Blurb.
  • No table of contents
  • Having to learn how to use BookSmart (their program). If I had fully made my book with Blurb, I'm sure I would have figured out the program eventually, but there was definitely a learning curve involved in learning how to use their software.

Blurb Price:

With the photos as thumbnails, the book (which was hardcover and full color) would have been 70 pages and would have cost $45.  There is no option of black and white. If I had put the photos back where they should have been, it probably would have been about 140 pages and cost $56. Shipping would have been $8. So, the total would have been about $64 (almost exactly the same as Blog2Print).


Lulu

Things I liked about Lulu:
  • I could preserve the exact format of my blog! It took a bit of manual work on my part, as I'll explain in a post tomorrow, but my blog was EXACTLY how I wanted it. The date stamp, the title, and the body of each post was exactly as it was on my blog. The photo captions were right where they should be. I was able to prevent awkward page splits.
  • Each post could start on its own page.
  • The cover was entirely customizable. I could do any font, font size, pictures, or backgrounds I wanted.
  • I could make a table of contents.
  • I could include the comments.
  • Price! Lulu was a great deal!
  • Choice between a full-color book and a black and white one. I chose black and white, as I still intend to make photo books for the time period that the blog covers, and choosing black and white greatly reduced the price.

Things I would have changed about Lulu:
  • Lulu can't transfer all of your blog posts for you. You have to do it by hand (by copying and pasting) from your blog to a file on your computer (like a word doc) and then upload it to their site. So, it takes a bit of manual work. But still, for all of the benefits? Worth it.

Lulu Price:

With Lulu, the book was 146 pages, and the price (for a hardcover black and white book) was $18.65. I found an online code that got me $3.73 off, and then the shipping was $5, for a total of $19.91. MUCH cheaper than Blog2Print or Blurb! Less than a third of the price!

Tomorrow I'm going to post a review of the Lulu book quality (with lots of pictures of my book) and a step-by-step guide of how to make one yourself. So check back tomorrow!

Be sure to check out these posts too!

37 comments:

  1. Jocelyn, thank you for posting all this information. I have wanted to print my blog for years, yes I have over 500 posts and not sure where to begin with the process. You have inspired me to really do it now. I might need more advice but this was most helpful!

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  2. Oh my goodness, this is awesome! Thanks for sharing all of this--I'm so excited to try Lulu now! You're wonderful!

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  3. Jocelyn! Thanks so much for posting this! So helpful! Jeff has used blurb in the past and has manually copy and pasted and formatted each page, but the books have become way too long to do that now, so maybe we will switch to Lulu. Thanks again!

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  4. I just found this post on Google. SO incredibly helpful - thank you!! You have articulated many of my own issues and frustrations as I considered both Blurb and Blog2Print.

    I had decided to go with Blog2Print because I simply don't have the time to deal with Blurb (plus my head almost exploded in the first two hours). But the clunky formatting issues you identified in Blog2Print were bugging me too. Now I will await your post on Lulu - maybe that will work for me! Thank you again for all your detail - much appreciated.

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  5. This is great to know!! I want to print my blog out once a year!!! Thanks for the ideas and creativity!!!
    ~Taylor

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  6. nice blog Thanks for sharing all of this--I'm so excited.
    iCaption That

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  7. You don't know me but thanks for this post. I have been slowly printing my blog of 6 years one at a time for mega bucks. So happy that I can print more for less!! yay for preserving the memories and all with pictures and posts in tact! thanks!!

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  8. Amazing review! So glad I found this before wasting any more time on blurb! Definitely going to look into Lulu, although I admit, I am still intimidated by creating a pdf from the blog by myself!

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    Replies
    1. You can do it! If you need help or have any questions, feel free to email me. :)

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  9. I just stumbled upon this post by doing a google search. I started a Blurb book for my blog a few years ago but it was WAY too time consuming, so I gave up. I will have to look into Lulu - may be the answer. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Another happy perfect stranger! THANKS for sharing all that you learned!!! Very helpful.

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  11. So helpful, as I just started researching this tonight and thought I'd end up with Blurb. I didn't even know Lulu was an option. Thank you!

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  12. I have almost 700 posts, and haven't a clue where to begin with this... I noticed on blog2print you can buy a PDF version, would that work and then upload it to LuLu?

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  13. So glad I stumbled across your post! I'm having really similar issues while trying to print my blog. My main thing is the formatting! I think I'm going to check out Lulu, too! Thanks for the review!

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  14. Thanks for sharing this. I've been trying to figure out the best way to do this. I can't believe there are only two main companies doing this!! And the formatting on both is crazy. WHY won't they just let it look like the actual blog? I had the exact same issues as you with Blog2print and Blurb. Now to see if I am able to figure out this scary pdf converting thing...

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  15. It sounds to me like you have to edit to get what you want no matter what. blog2print doesn't eve give you that option. I have made several books through blurb and I always edit. It doesn't take nearly as long as you would think. They have several premade layouts you can use or make your own. You can also completely customize the background of every page, but I don't do that. I've tried copying and pasting my blog to a word doc before and it never turned out right, so I'm trying to figure out how doing that and then uploading to lulu is any different than editing with blurb. The only thing I don't like about blurb is you can't have your comments uploaded so I just go back and copy and paste them. Also, because I make it more of a scrapbook with large pictures I don't have to also do a photo book. My kids love looking through it and remembering.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for contributing about your experiences!

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  16. Thanks for writing this up - I'm going through the same thing with the same issues with blog2print and blurb as you had, and I'll just skip trying to mess with the blurb software anymore. I had just about concluded copying the text myself and publishing with lulu was going to be the best solution for the product I wanted. It's good to have your experience confirm my feelings!

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  17. Be aware that Blog2Print will not stand by their product--No reprints, refunds, or even working with you when pictures were printed VERY saturated, some so dark they were nearly black. I'm a unsatisfied customer now, and will NOT be a returning customer--even though I was a a customer since 2010--you'd think they would stand by their product and make it right with an honest customer. I have no recourse but to report them to the Better Business Bureau--they have very poor customer service practices.

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    1. Wow, that sounds terrible! Thanks for the info!

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    2. Susanne,

      I apologize for any issues you may have encountered using the Blog2Print service. We care very much about our customers and the quality of the product they receive.

      My team has only just become aware of this blog post and your comment. I have information about your particular case, and if you'd like to contact me directly (jagostine@sharedbook.com), I'll do my very best to ensure that you receive satisfaction.

      Sincerely,
      Jim Agostine
      Customer Service Director
      SharedBook, Inc.

      Delete
  18. Super helpful, exactly the info I was looking for as I'm new to blog printing! Thank you!!!

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  19. A great post! Thank you for all your effort.

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  20. I'm going as well with Lulu, but I used http://www.blogbooker.com/ to export my blog to word first so I didn't have to go through all my posts and copy and paste them. The word export is in beta so I found some posts in the wrong order. Also, photos were exported in low quality (you can become a donor to get high quality pictures - I guess as high as the original in the blog). It can save you some time!

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  21. I printed my daughter's blog with blog2print, and it printed it exactly how it looked online. The captions went with the right photos, and I had many options. I got a full preview of my book before I purchased the hard cover, and it was under $50. It was painless, and easy, so I'm not sure why your did not. I have my hard copy proof on my coffee table. :)

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  22. Hi Jocelyn, if you plan on creating another blog book, it would be pretty cool if you take our website http://www.intorealpages.com for a spin as well. I learned a lot from your article. Kind of gave a detailed look * spooky sound * 'into the mind' * end of spooky sound * of a user that wants to create a blog book ;) I'll definitely am going to work on the option to include comments in our books next week. A cover designer is already under it's way!

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  23. Thank you for this comparison!! I also just went to intorealpages due to the last comment and poked around. Absolutely loved the site and seriously loved the more blog type/magazine type feel to it! Unfortunately $150 for 2yrs of my 6yrs of blogging just wasn't worth it :(
    Lulu ended up being the best deal by far, at $50 for the same # of posts in color photos or blog2print was very cheap in black and white, but horrible layouts as you mentioned.

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  25. Hilariously just found this post on Google. Took me a while before I realized that the people in the pictures looked awfully familiar.

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