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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!