Your summer: One for the books

Summer’s almost over, and we’ve got one thing on the brain: making the most of those last free weekends. We’re thinking about taking road trips, staying home for backyard barbecues (cold drinks in hand), and finishing our summer reads. (And we hope you’ll be doing the same.) So kick back with friends and family and snap these last shots of summer. Your future book projects will thank you.

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Turn summer photos into holiday books:
Get gift-giving out of the way early this year

Road trips. Music festivals. Fun fairs. Shrimp on the barbecue. Ice cream. Frosty beverages. With the dog days of summer behind us, it’s a great time to start thinking about putting those summer memories to good use in personalized holiday photo books for friends and family. They take a little time to perfect, and we all know how fast the gift-giving season can creep up on us, so let’s get started now and sail into the holiday season in style. (Plus, it’s a little hot outside, right? Stay in and do a cool project.)

What story do you want to tell?
With hundreds (maybe thousands) of photos documenting your summer fun in the sun, it can be hard to decide which shots should make the final cut. So before you get started, take a load off and decide on an overarching theme for your book.

Theme ideas to get you started
Sports teams: Whether it was your children’s soccer games or your partner’s attempts at tennis, you probably captured some glorious and not-so-glorious moments this summer. Your family is going to want to see them all.

Road trips: Trips to the city with your best friends and country escapes with the entire family in tow need to be documented. And revisiting the journey, full of inside jokes and nonstop “Are we there yet?"s, will remind everyone how fun it was. Or how fun you want everyone to think it was. (Kidding!) (Kind of.)

Food fare: Between the backyard barbecues, outdoor dinner parties, and children’s birthdays, you cooked up a storm this summer, and we know you took photos of those fancy feasts. (Yes, we’re on Instagram too. We’ve seen a lot of pictures of food.) Why not make a cookbook of your sizzling summer recipes for others to enjoy next year.

Your home town: If your summer was one big long staycation, don’t worry. Just remember the new places you discovered (restaurants, parks, bars, stores). Head out on the town and take pictures of truly local things you fell in love with. A tribute to your city will appeal to those you played tourist with.

Someone special: This year, honor the special relationships in your life. Did you or someone you love celebrate an anniversary? A milestone birthday? Did you reconnect with someone at a family reunion? Whatever monumental events you toasted this year, you can extend the celebration with a beautiful photo book.

From start to finish
The easiest way to get those holiday photo books made, ordered, and (most importantly) delivered in time is to start before the last minute (we know this can be difficult). But don’t worry; we’ve put together an easy-peasy schedule to get you from here to there (with plenty of time to spare).

Gift book timeline

BookSmart Checklist



A little bittle of summer
(This is not a typo—read on!)

Here’s a brand-new writing exercise to help you capture the summer of 2013 and inspire a bit of a creative energy. As the season fades and we head indoors to hibernate for the winter, this exercise can help you get the most from your memories and make sure they’re not lost forever.

Visual references can be powerful catalysts for writing; photographs, illustrations, and visuals can often help to overcome writer's block. A train or bus ticket, a menu, a business card, an eye-catching flyer—these are just a few examples of the visual references we collect as we move around in the world. When combined with the images we deliberately record with our cameras, these accidental souvenirs can serve as powerful reminders of particular moments in time.

Using visual cues like these in your writing exercises is a great way to get started on a book—or to just ignite the spark that gets your creative fire burning.

  • Select several of your most treasured objects, accidental souvenirs, and images from your summer activities.
  • Play with some ideas. Will this piece of writing document an event or set of events? Is it a poem, a short story, or something else? Decide on your approach, process, and genre.
  • Write for a fixed amount of time, say 20 to 30 minutes, and see where it takes you. Repeat until you feel you've captured what's in your head on the page (or screen).
  • Refine the results. Keep editing and refining until you're satisfied with the words and then dive straight into making your book. Now is the time to weave in your visual cues. Get your photographs, drawings, artifacts—whatever inspired you—into digital format and import them into your book project.
  • Explore different layouts to create the best combinations of your words and images

It may take it a week or two—or if you're incredibly efficient, an hour or two—but once your Summer 2013 book is finished you’ll have secured some special memories in print. (You can also create an ebook version in a flash.) After all, as Henry David Thoreau once said, “One must maintain a little bittle of summer, even in the middle of winter.”

Creative Inspiration



VIBs (books) for VIPs:
How high-end brands use Blurb

More and more high-end designers, artists, and brands are seeing how a book can make their business look even better. Here’s a look at how three brands—a truly world-class jewelry designer, a couture linen company, and a retreat for sophisticated foodies and chefs—have used Blurb to set their work apart from the crowd.

Magnificent, Incredible. Spectacular: A book of handmade jewelry
Judy Geib creates beautiful, high-end custom jewelry that’s featured exclusively at Barney’s, as well as exhibited at the National Design Triennial and the Institute for Contemporary Art. Her pieces have been described in the art and fashion world as “ an unexpected and sublime balance between vision and object, form and material, space and shape…a magical group of jewels exuding a humble, bohemian elegance.”

Judy puts together her creations with an assistant in a light-filled studio in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She sources and procures the stones for her work herself on visits to far-flung places like Brazil and Colombia, as well as from vendors all over the world.

She created a book with Blurb to be a physical artifact of her pieces, to put them on a pedestal long after they’ve sailed out the door at Barney’s. It’s less a catalog to drive specific sales and more a testament to her art, something that her loyal fans can hold in their hands and savor.

Judy Geib -Magnificent Incredible Spectacular


Bella Notte Linens: A look book (and ebook) that’s irresistible
Kathleen McCoy, founder and design visionary of Bella Notte Linens, says her company's brand is all about "irresistible textiles and texture." And that irresistible quality infuses everything Bella Notte produces—including product photography and marketing communications.

At first, McCoy was a little hesitant about using Blurb's digital printing platform. As it turns out, she didn't need to worry. "I was blown away," she says. "I was so impressed with how our book looked—the layout, the printing, the images."

Printed on Blurb’s premium uncoated paper, the book is a gorgeous reproduction of the rich colors and inviting textures of their linens, and the book's quality is a natural and intuitive way of communicating the quality of Bella Notte's brand. McCoy also takes an ebook version on her iPad to trade shows. The response has been so great that McCoy is now making a book after every photo shoot. Learn more about what Blurb did for this business here.

Bella Notte Linens


Eat Retreat: High-end food meets beautiful design

In 2011, acclaimed designer Laura Brunow Miner put together the first Eat Retreat, a gathering of accomplished foodies and the highest-end gourmet purveyors in Sonoma, California. Available as a wonderful Blurb book, Eat Retreat is full of beautiful photos and clever design. We have to especially call out the accompanying ebook, enhanced with video and audio from the event.

One part food philosophy and one part celebration of a gorgeous gathering, the book showcases the who’s who in the food realm and tells the collective story of their creativity and innovation. From brands like Cowgirl Creamery to Whole Foods (and individuals like the executive chef at Google), see what happens when the cream of the culinary crop meets to recharge, network, and celebrate the good life.

If you’re interested in joining the "in" crowd, the next Eat Retreat festival will be held October 17–20 2013 in Finger Lakes, a vibrant food and wine community in upstate New York. Here’s to the good life—and to gorgeous books that celebrate it.

The Story of Eat Retreat



Fairy tale success in the Blurb bookstore

This week we take a look at a Blurb book that's riding a new wave of popularity. This collection of fractured fairy tale endings may make you think twice about what we expect from our princesses.

Fallen Princesses | Dina Goldstein

Cinderella’s a barfly. Snow White’s prince just watches the races. Rapunzel loses her hair. This is what happens when “happily ever after” just doesn’t happen—and the subject of Dina Goldstein’s Fallen Princesses. Her unique photographic compositions that construct alternate endings to certain well-known fairy tales have been featured on the Huffington Post, the BBC, CTV TV, Fotografi, and the Sunday Times Magazine. The book also includes essays and a history of the project. It’s a uniquely empowering take on the princess story.

Dina Goldstein - Fallen Princesses


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