The Hand-Crafted Book

I’ve been providing some genea-research support to a friend who is writing a local military history. He has been looking at some of the more scholarly publishers to produce his book, but realizes that with his project’s limited audience he’s not likely to get their attention. I’ve tried to talk him into self-publishing with Lulu, but he resisted it – until recently. What made him change his mind?

In his research, he was able to connect with the family of a man he wanted to spotlight. In addition to documents, letters and photos, they showed him a memorial book one family member had made – and published using Lulu. He was very impressed with the quality of the book and the clarity of the photos and scanned documents included in it. Now, he wants to learn more about Lulu and what it can do for his history.

While the debate will continue on the advantages/disadvantages of electronic publishing, examples like this convince me that it facilitates the return of the hand-crafted book. Someone in this family spent the time and effort to collect the information and artifacts of their loved-one’s life and build a memorial to him. In earlier days that may have been done in the form of a scrapbook which would be handed down from generation to generation. Over the years, the pages and content would start to crumble or, even worse, it might get thrown out. Today’s hand-crafted book is professionally printed and bound and any family member who wants one can have it. Copies can be donated to local libraries or historical societies to add to the area’s history and insure this loved one won’t be forgotten.

Electronic publishing – with it’s many formats, services and platforms – gives us all the opportunity to produce a hand-crafted family history in any number of ways. Whether it’s a printed book from Lulu or Blurb, a PDF publication that can be read on a mobile device or printed on a home printer, an ebook read on an e-reader or a digital scrapbook, it’s our choice. And isn’t having choices a wonderful thing!

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