Thursday, August 07, 2008

Publishing, digital and otherwise...

I have long considered myself to be a lover of books, and as time has moved along, I've realized that while books are often the beloved delivery mechanisms, my interests are actually connected to the individuals behind them... and the content they've created. There's definitely something about the portability of books -- and of course other printed matter like magazines, letters, etc. -- which makes the connection real and personal. At the same time, I read a lot of email newsletters and other digital content that finds its way to me; well-crafted communications generally inspire me, and I'm constantly researching the latest ways that people can get their work published, packaged and out to the world, whether in printed or some digital form. In the event you may share my interests, here are a few ideas related to both personal and professional publishing which you can explore to research some of the opportunities which seem most exciting to me. Hope you find this helpful, and if you have tips to share, I look forward to hearing from you.


. Photos into books

My wife and I have used Shutterfly.com for some time for getting our digital photos printed and distributed -- and for customized greeting cards. Last year, for the first time, I went through the process of making a customized photo book for my mother's birthday, and I also made one for my kids last year commemorating their summer. It's quite easy to upload your photos and use their templates to make books that look beautiful and are relatively affordable.

. Smart "dummies" and more...

If you're interested in having your work published, first you have to assemble it professionally so you can show it to potential publishers, etc. While you can certainly use Adobe Acrobat for that, during an excellent powerHouse Books publishing workshop I attended last year hosted by their senior designer Kiki Bauer, I learned about two companies that are great for publishing dummies: Asuka and Blurb. Looking at the sites for both companies today, it appears that each actually offers a complete pathway to affordably creating and marketing bookstore-quality books of all types.

. Other companies for self-publishers

I have had some fairly good experiences with the company AuthorHouse, and I can report that, in my humble opinion, they offer a cost-effective means for book publishing which also includes distribution through Amazon. At the same time, my experience with their customer service and other details of their operations has led me to research other similar companies. My cousin Bart Ridings reportedly had a great experience publishing a book through Lulu.com. My own assessments have led me to strongly consider Dog Ear Publishing for my next text-based book publishing venture.

. Digital magazines...

Zinio came on the scene many years ago, and I remember downloading their reader and getting some early digital editions of magazines I subscribed to, but the experience didn't exactly hook me. What did really attract me many years later was the first time I read an issue of Magwerk.com's Encore magazine and the other excellent "next generation digital magazines" they offer for free on their site. It seems that there are many companies competing with Zinio now for the broad marketplace where print magazines offer digital editions, and I've been very impressed by the information I have read about Nxtbook Media -- and also by the volume of insightful, helpful information they publish on their blog about digital publishing -- including this recent entry where they compare themselves with Zinio.