Got the summertime blues?
Get out of town. And Free the Book.

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, we're halfway through summer. So we've still got vacation on the brain and rock and roll in the soul. This week we take a look at how one famous rock photographer freed his book and some ideas on how you can use a little time off to create a timeless book of your own.



Building a rocking brand with Blurb and Kickstarter: An interview with John Scarpati

Free the Book Holiday Kickstarter Cramp Clash Burn

Meet John Scarpati, a commercial photographer who used Blurb to publish a book archiving his photography. Scarpati used Blurb to publish editions in different sizes that he used as rewards to the Kickstarter donors who helped fund the project.

Scarpati was the house photographer for the Sunset Strip of the 1980s, the era of indulgence and tangible allure (at the time intimate bedfellows) bred in West Hollywood that didn’t really end until 1992. Thanks to John Scarpati, it remains largely intact, chronicled in dazzling and often lurid photographs in his book Cramp, Slash, Burn.

Free the Book Holiday Kickstarter Cramp Clash Burn Closeup

Here’s a shortened version of a recent interview we did with John. To read the full story (and you should read the full story), please head to this blog post.

How did the idea of making the book come to be?
It started as a simple organizational project. But during the process, I kept turning up these great little photo gems that had been buried in boxes for decades. That kept me digging for more. I started wondering, “Who the hell chose all the pictures we used back then? They missed all the good ones!” So I started going through everything I had piece by piece.

Some of the stuff we turned up was really cool, and I thought before it was filed away and disappeared into the ether, I wanted to do something with it. Next thing I knew, I was making a book. Only I’m not a writer—Hell, I’m dyslexic. I thought it would be far more interesting to get in touch with the people in the images, the people who helped make things happen back in the day…get their stories, their memories.

But back to the design, I knew I wanted to incorporate “80’s artifacts”…trinkets, memorabilia, ephemera that was authentic and meant something to the people whose images appeared on the pages. So I went back to my pool of writers and asked them to dig into their own archives for anything they’d be willing to mail in for me to photograph.

Free the Book Holiday Cramp Clash Burn Handcuffs

How did you get the idea of raising funds with your book?
Right out of the gate I knew this book had to be hardcover—a 12 x 12 coffee table art book. Printed on the best quality paper and produced on a state-of-the-art digital press. Thinking about CS&B being 12 x 12—actual record album size—just made me smile. Once I committed myself mentally to the upcoming workload I thought, “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it again?” This meant everything needed to be done top shelf, from scans to printing. No corners cut and everything done at the highest resolution possible. Which meant going back to the original film and re-mastering everything.

How did the process work?
The interaction with the backers forced me to delve even deeper into fleshing out the book's direction, concept, and production flow. I really needed to develop a strong mission statement and bring the project into critical focus.

What did you use the proceeds for?
The funds received from the Kickstarter campaign were used to cover the bulk of my first stage production—the scanning costs. The best part was how it had me documenting the creation process every step of the way, and it continues to this day.

What was the reception?
Do you mean besides the perfect excuse for me to fly to Hollywood, have an art show at my favorite Gallery in Los Angeles, La Luz De Jesus, and hang out with the hooligans from my twenties in our old stomping grounds? I’m sure there was, but I can’t think of it right now…

Do you have any projects coming up in the future?
Oh I always have any given number of personal art projects running around in my head...but for the moment it’s time to work the paid gigs for a while. That way I can afford to once again embark on another personal endeavor. It’s a bad and expensive habit this thing called art. At least when it’s done I have something awesome to show for it, it helps keep me happy—and young.

You definitely have something awesome to show for it, John, and we’re thrilled to be able to showcase your killer book. But that’s not the whole story—we do have a word count to deal with—so read the full interview and get even more information about this amazing project and inspiration to make your own book to raise serious cash on Kickstarter.


Get Inspired
Get Information
Get Started





How to make a journal in BookSmart about your vacation⎯while on vacation

Free the Book Holiday Booksmart

Here in the Northern Hemisphere, summer’s in full swing, and if your mind is anything like ours, we know what’s on it: Vacation, vacation, vacation. You might be thinking it’s too early to worry about documenting a trip you haven’t even taken yet. Trust us; it’s not too early.

Here’s how things usually shake out: You go and have an awesome time somewhere; you come home and gather all of the pictures and stories together; you make a fabulous travel photo book all about your adventure. Or maybe you don’t. Because when you’re back at work, you don’t need anything else that feels like work. So here are a few tips for getting that book done in bite-size pieces.

Take advantage of BookSmart’s handy journaling features and free the book within by doing a little bit every day.

How to Journal in Booksmart


Get Inspired
Get Information
Get Started





Take a long weekend and free your book

Long weekends are perfect for unwinding, being creative, and setting the book inside you free. Dan Milnor, Blurb’s Photographer-at-Large, offers some expert tips on creating the perfect book cover and getting a book done in just three days.

Free the Book Holiday Milnor How to Design a Book

Dan Milnor: "Look at your book in a new light with infinite possibilities. If you’ve always thought book covers should be simple, with one strong image on the cover, why not try a type-heavy cover instead? Alternatively, if a somewhat blank canvas is your usual go-to, a photo that intrigues the reader to stop, stare, and wonder might be an interesting approach."

But an intriguing book cover is just the beginning. Let that spirit carry through to every page in your book. Blurb’s tools let you make any book you can think of, including easy instant photo books, ebooks, and hardcover photo books in a range of sizes—from pocket-sized to coffee-table-big.

Here’s a really high-level day-by-day book-making checklist for a long weekend—from getting organized to ordering your first copy.

Free the Book Holiday Design a Book Steps

Day 1: Nail down your book idea. Collect your images—whether they’re travel photos or family snapshots—and captions so you can organize your files and decide which story you actually want to tell. Next, get set up tool-wise. Download our free book-making tool, BookSmart, to take advantage of our customized layouts and design. For the more design-inclined, you’ll want to download our Adobe® InDesign® plug-in, which offers more typographic and layout control.

Day 2: Start assembling. Try your hand at different layouts, colors, and fonts until you’re pleased with what’s in front of you. Upload your photos and place them in your preferred sequence to best tell your story. Our layouts leave room for captions, so you can add them as you go, or, once your photo story is set, go back to adding funny anecdotes to images that already speak volumes.

Day 3: Preview and order your book. Spellcheck and proofread and make sure your images are in the order you want and are telling the story you intend them to. Make any necessary edits, then order away.


Get Inspired
Get Information
Get Started





SXSW, Vegas, ebooks, and you

SXSW V2V is all about “startups, innovators, and you.” So even if you won’t be attending in person this year, “you” can still get in front of the movers and shakers at the conference in an innovative way with a Blurb ebook pitch book. You’ve got two days left until SXSW V2V starts rocking Las Vegas. That’s plenty of time to make your ebook, do some research on the attendees, and distribute the story of your business to them digitally. Think of it as doing Vegas virtually. Need some inspiration? Take a look at these killer enhanced ebooks.


Unique selections from the Blurb Bookstore

  Free the Book Holiday Tiny Horses

If you spend much time around our office, you’ll find the words “tiny horses” whispered, shouted, and IMed several times a day. Why? Because we love Tiny Horses Are Everywhere, a magic book made with Blurb. We discovered it in the Just Published section of our bookstore (go browse sometime; it’s amazing the books you’ll find there). Simple in idea, delightful in execution, this book exposes the world of, you guessed it, Tiny Horses. Saddle up and learn more.

We always keep an eye out for wonderful new books—share yours with us (and the rest of the world) by using the hashtag #freethebook.


Get Inspired
Get Information
Get Started