Friday, December 07, 2012

HGG2012 - Bring Your Digital Photos to Life with

I take a lot of pictures. But I don't print many of them anymore. Which is kind of sad, because when they are sitting on the hard drive they aren't so easy to browse and share. And I forget about them. Both of our boys have always loved going through photo albums and reliving memories, so I know I need to make a better effort. Last year I made my first photo books. I did one for us, chronicling Little Boo's first visit to Disneyworld, and another for my parents, filled with pictures of Little Boo from our trip back home that year. Both of these were quite the hit, and my mom was hinting pretty heavily that she would like another one for Christmas this year. So, I really had no choice, did I?

Whether or not your child's grandparents live nearby (but especially if they don't), a photo book sharing their grandbaby's year in pictures is just about the perfect gift. I share images constantly with them on Facebook, but having a volume to hold in your hands, and to show off to your friends when they visit - priceless.

This year I created my parents' photo book with Blurb, a very professional, online self-publishing company. Blurb is so much more than just photo books. My friend Julie, for instance, just published her first book of mocktail recipes using their templates and e-commerce services. Blurb is a creative publishing platform that lets you design, publish and share professional-quality books starting at just $4.95.

The Blurb platform allows for 3 different levels of user-input into their book design. The most straight-forward is Bookify, which gives you a number of pre-set templates to let you design your book online. For more creative control, you can download free software to further customise your book with Blurb Booksmart, or go all-out with Blurb for Professionals. 

I used Booksmart and found it very easy to place images, set and change page layouts, add frame options, text, etc. At the end of the creative process you are brought to the Blurb store to place your order.  

Your first step is to choose your book size - from a 7x7 small square, up to a 13x11 large landscape format. There are also trade paperback sizes for text-based books.  You can check out the pricing before you begin adding photos - select your expected page count range, desired cover options (hardcover, softcover, jacket), paper type and Blurb will let you know what to expect before you start.

Once you do start your photo book, Blurb Booksmart walks you easily through every step. The process is very clear, quick and straightforward. And, importantly, if your image resolution is too low to print properly at the selected size, Blurb gives you a warning and will automatically re-size the image to optimum print quality. The photo book I received is a gorgeous volume. Paper quality is excellent and the images are all clear and crisp. The templates allow you to add text, so I personalised the book further with little comments and descriptions. There are various font options, different page colours, multiple layouts, etc., etc. I was very happy with the Blurb platform.

The only thing that wasn't perfect for me was the fact that I couldn't go back and change the size of my book once I started it. And I couldn't access the images I had uploaded to include in another book. It may just be that I couldn't find the right place to do this, but if it's there it isn't easy to find. But really, this just means you need to make your decisions at the start of your project, and then stick to them. I'm including this mostly as a heads-up so you don't do what I did and have to go back and upload your pics again.

According to a survey conducted by Blurb Canada in September, 2012, more than 85 per cent of Canadians would like to receive a gift that was made just for them, and more than 90 per cent of Canadians believe that photo books and albums are important ways of preserving family memories for future generations, whether that be through photos, letters, recipes, or stories. I'd count myself in those numbers.

For You

Blurb has provided me with a promo code* for 25% off your total purchase, valid through Dec. 12. Just enter the code GIFTIDEA at checkout. If you are ordering for Christmas giving, please order by December 10 to ensure delivery of your book by December 24.

In addition, Blurb is providing another promo code for one lucky Raising My Boys reader, worth $35 towards your next book purchase. After all of the wonderful pictures you'll be taking over the holidays, this prize would be a great way to preserve those memories. Entries are via the Rafflecopter widget below and will be accepted until 12:00 midnight EST, December 20, 2012. Giveaway open to Canadian residents only.

*Offer valid through December 12, 2012 (11:59 p.m. local time). A 25% discount is applied toward your product total with a minimum order of 1 unit or more. Maximum discount is CAD $150 off product total. Valid for printed books only. This offer is good for one-time use, and cannot be combined with volume discounts, other promotional codes, gift cards, or used for adjustments on previous orders.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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