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.

BookWrite-Anatomy-640x432.png

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.

Vellum – Beautiful Ebook Styling

Vellum – Beautiful Ebook Styling …

You’ve finished your family history manuscript and now you are ready to publish it. You would like to include ebook editions but you aren’t happy with the results you’ve seen from the computer-generated conversions the booksellers use. Fortunately, Mac users now have an alternative. It’s called Vellum [Mac – free] and it’s delicious.

Vellum desktop

Previewing an iBooks publication as will appear on an iPhone.

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Keynote Special Effects

I’m a big fan of Keynote – the presentation app for Mac and iOS – as the layout platform for many of my family history projects. Most of my projects are combinations of text, photos and design elements – an amateur’s version of the beautiful layouts found in the Somerset publications.

Here I’m using Keynote for iPad to jazz up a cover page for new project.  title page exampleI wanted a graphic element to set off my title. This “swoosh” is the result of a bit of experimenting with Keynote’s shapes. Here’s how I created it.
add panelThe swoosh begins as a curved line graphic element. Tap the + on the toolbar and choose the curved line option in the choices panel.
curved line adjustmentNotice the three dots on the line. The two blue end dots determine the starting and ending points for this line. The green dot in the center determines where along the line the curve appears and whether it will be a loose or tight curve. Tap and drag a dot to make changes. Experiment until you get the effect you want.
line style options panel Now it’s time to add some style. With the line selected, tap the paintbrush icon to display its style options. The default style for a line is a solid, black line two points thick. The first panel offers several generic options with a Style Options item at the bottom. Tap that to see the Line panel you see above. Tap the Color box to change the line’s color and move the Width slider to make a wider line. You can add arrowheads or connectors to your line if you wish. At the bottom you see several line options including dotted and dashed styles. Scroll down to display additional options – including the grungy pencil look I used here. Tap the style type you want.


The Effects panel lets you add shadows and reflections to your line if you wish. You can also adjust the opacity of your line.

If you want to use this styled line in multiple places, just copy/paste it and play with the “dots” to get the size and shape you want. That’s a lot faster than resetting all those format settings each time.

How can you put these formatting elements to other uses? Try creating a box and give it a border that is the same as the box’s fill color. Choose one of the grungy line styles for the border and increase the border width until you have a nice grungy box to show off some text or an image. Experiment with other graphic elements and formatting styles to see what kind of effects you can create. They aren’t difficult and can do wonders to add personality to your storytelling project.