Volume 2014, Issue 10

Making a personal gardening book:
Here’s how we did it

Guide to bay area microclimates

Here at Blurb, we don’t just grow beautiful books—we grow plants as well. As spring approached, we realized it was the perfect time to make our very own book about gardening, based on our experiences living in the San Francisco Bay Area, where each city (and neighborhood) has its own distinctive microclimate. Because we’re all about beautiful books, we decided to share a little bit about how we make our own books to help you make your own books. Here’s how the process worked.

We reached out to our coworkers all across the office to ask them to write a short piece about their neighborhood or city. Sourcing, editing, and organizing material from multiple authors takes a bit of organization (as opposed to creating all the content yourself), but in the end it produces a book that’s truly a community effort. How you choose to build your book’s content is up to you, but remember that the more eyes on your work, the better, especially when it comes to catching mistakes. Want to collaborate directly within Booksmart? Here are some tips and tricks.

“Just a little research, some teamwork, a simple and consistent layout, text and images, and our plug-in for Adobe® InDesign®—and we created an original and beautiful gardening guide (if we do say so ourselves).”

While our teammates were busy writing their pieces, we researched the multitude of microclimates of the San Francisco Bay Area and looked for plants that are perfectly suited to each weather pattern, creating a short guide to a dozen or so plants that thrive all over the Bay. A little bit of (virtual) footwork produced an authoritative list with concrete information to help gardeners choose what to plant. Once the pieces were all turned in, we carefully edited them to make sure they were consistent in style and grammar—an important step when dealing with multiple authors.

Gardening book Blurb team

Then we turned over our outline and written material to our graphic designer, who sourced beautiful plant images from a stock photography website. Ideally, we would have been able to take our own photographs of the actual plants, but time was of the essence and working with stock photography can be surprisingly creative. He then digitally manipulated each image to look like a watercolor painting. Neat! Next, he explored a wide variety of gardening books over an afternoon or so for inspiration, and ended up deciding on a look and feel inspired by vintage botanical books. This led to a simple layout with each image paired with a facing page of text. Clean. Elegant. Classic. Each section is designed in exactly the same way to give a coherent feel and to help readers through the book. In the same vein, there are only three fonts used in the entire book—three being enough to give variety, but not so many that the book looks messy. Depending on the type of book you’re making, you’ll probably want to stick to two or three fonts.

Garden book - Hibiscus

Because he’s experienced in graphic design (that’s why we hired him), he used our book-making plug-in that’s built right into Adobe® InDesign®. But don’t think you’re required to use the same tool—this book’s text and images (and almost any book’s text and images) could also be easily put together in BookSmart, our downloadable publishing application.

We then looked at the whole book in layout to make sure that each page was looking its best. A tweak here and a tweak there, a close eye in the editing and proofing process, and we were ready to hit publish.

Blurb team gardening book

The result? A wonderful book that’s just lovely to look at—and that serves as a handy guide to the microclimates of the region. Just a little research, some teamwork, a simple and consistent layout, text and images, and our plug-in for Adobe® InDesign®—and we created an original and beautiful gardening guide (if we do say so ourselves).




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