BookWright and eBooks

BookWright and eBooks – a great option for publishing family projects …

blurbbook2016

If you think Blurb is just for photo books, think again. However, the fact that Blurb is focused on photos makes it a great platform for family history publishing projects. It supports the written stories and it shows off the photos and family ephemera to best advantage. Blurb doesn’t provide the editorial services you’ll find at other publishing platforms, but it offers unmatched layout tools…

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BookWright and eBooks

If you think Blurb is just for photo books, think again. However, the fact that Blurb is focused on photos makes it a great platform for family history publishing projects. It supports the written stories and it shows off the photos and family ephemera to best advantage. Blurb doesn’t provide the editorial services you’ll find at other publishing platforms, but it offers unmatched layout tools and support.

Blurb’s free BookWright software will help you create a gorgeous print book but it is also probably the easiest way to create your own ebook. BookWright supports both reflowable and fixed-length ebooks. Reflowable ebooks are the “text heavy” ebooks you read on Kindle and iPad devices and in most reader apps. The fixed-length ebook can only be read on iPads. Reflowable ebooks support images, but only within the flow of the text. If you want more control over each page’s layout and design you will need to create a fixed-length book. The conversion cost for a fixed-length book is $9.99. Currently the reflowable conversion is still in beta and is free to use.

BookWright is a layout program. While you can enter and edit text within the app, it does not have the writing tools you will find in word-processing apps or writing platforms. Once your manuscript is ready, BookWright takes over the layout effort – page layout, font styles, image placement and such. There are a number of design templates to make the layout process as easy as possible, but you can also develop your own custom templates if you wish.

Getting started is easy. Download and install the BookWright software on your desktop. There is a very nice user guide at the site. A good way to start is to create a “test” project and use it to try out BookWright’s features as you work your way through the guide.

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This chart provides a quick overview of the BookWright desktop. From here you can import photos and text files (in RTF format) so they are easily accessible when you’re ready to include them on a page. You can choose to use a pre-designed page template or create your own. BookWright offers 50 ebook-compatible fonts that have been licensed for use with ebooks. You’ll find them in BookWright’s font-picker.

Blurb provides a tremendous amount of support including webinars, an impressive knowledgebase, user forums and a blog full of great ideas. If you aren’t familiar with book layout/design, you might find Robin Williams’ book, The Non-Designer’s Design Book [Print – $14.42] quite interesting.

If you want a family history book full of stories, charts, photos and ephemera, Blurb and BookWright offer you the best options for designing and publishing both print and electronic editions.

Creative Keynote – Using Shapes

Keynote does more than just presentations. It’s a great storytelling platform too. My Behind the Alligator Farm project is being built in Keynote. Why? Because I can easily combine the little stories I’ve collected with lots of photos, family treasures and a bit of bling to build something my family will enjoy.

In this example, I’m building a title page for one of the stories in the project. I’m taking advantage of the graphic tools included in Keynote. These tools offer a tremendous amount of creative flexibility. Here I’m layering shapes, photos and fonts on a slide to build an eye-catching lead into the next story.

KeynoteScrap01

Keynote’s shape tool lets me create all kinds of custom elements. In the example above I’ve layered two circle shapes in different colors and added the ampersand character as a text box. All of the elements on this slide are layered on top of each other.

KeynoteScrap02

Behind the circle shapes is the photo. It has a square shape behind it that uses an image fill. To create an image fill, select that option in the style panel on the right then click the Choose button to pick an image file to fill the shape. Here I’m using a “paper” image from one of my scrapbook kits. Most scrapbook papers are sized for a 12″ x 12″ page which is way too large for my purpose so I selected the Scale to Fit option and used the Scale slider to reduce it down to something more appropriate for my purpose. The Style panel also has settings for borders and shadows.

KeynoteScrap03

The photo is layered on top of the shape. To do that I clicked on the Media button in the top toolbar and selected the photo I wanted from Photos then placed it on the slide. Now the style panel displays photo-related tools. I’ve selected a simple “frame” for the photo and arranged it on the shape so there’s room for a caption just below. The caption is another text box and is aligned to be centered under the photo.

All that’s left is to add the title text and I’m ready to move on to the next slide which contains the story. Look at the thumbnails on the left and you’ll see this little story has found its place in the middle of this story book. That’s another of the features making Keynote a delightful storytelling tool – there’s always room to add another story.

Since everyone in the family has some kind of tablet, my distribution method is to export the presentation file to PDF format, post it to my library at Scribd and announce the update. Scribd supports revisions so I have a complete history of the changes I’ve made.

Windows users . . . you can do much the same thing with PowerPoint. It’s just that the tools are organized a bit differently.

Here’s a look at the project as it looks today.