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The printed blog

Written by . Published on under the IndieWeb category.

James' Coffee Blog book held open in front of an orange wall with pictures on it

For the first time in months, I attended the London / Europe IndieWeb Homebrew Website Club. I have enjoyed attending these events in the past because they bring together people who are doing interesting things with the web to varying extents. In the last meeting, we covered everything from digital music quality to digital copyright to printing one’s blog. The topic of printing one’s blog is one I would like to dive into further.

During the meeting, I was able to hold up a printed version of my blog and say that I had taken the time to print my blog. The process I took to achieve this goal was quite manual but it was what worked best for me. I looked through my blog, identified the blog posts that I thought were worth printing out, and then copied them in to a Google Doc. The Google Doc was useful because I knew I needed to make changes to the blog posts before they were ready for publication (i.e. remove category links, which appear in blue and would have no use in a printed version of my blog). Also, as I came to appreciate later, Google Docs documents can be resized to particular specifications, which was useful when the printing stage came.

Why did I decide to print my blog?

The main reason was that I wanted to hold what I have written and see some of my efforts in the real world. I tend to write a blog post and only think about it: (i) if it comes up in discussion or; (ii) if I think a blog post I have written could be of use to someone else. This means that it is hard for me to see on a daily basis exactly what I am doing aside from typing words on my blog. Writing blog posts like this one makes me feel good but I wanted to see what my work would look like in print, in words on an actual piece of paper.

The archival benefit of creating a printed blog is interesting to me, too. I liked the idea of having a physical backup of my blog posts. This would not serve in the same way as a digital backup where I have a copy of something I can refer back to if my main copy is damaged in someway. Rather, having a physical backup means that my blog will benefit from the historically-proven longevity of books. Whereas it is easy for a site to fall into disrepair, I do expect that the book I have printed will be around even if I decide to stop maintaining my site. (NB: I have no intentions of not blogging in the future!)

I used a digital publishing service called Lulu in order to print the book. Lulu was right for me because it was cheap (for my needs of printing out one book with between 100 and 200 pages, in colour) and the site looked intuitive. I was somewhat conservative with my printing in that I only chose the blog posts I really wanted in print and I also made sure there were not too many images in the PDF I uploaded to Lulu. This was again where Google Docs came in handy: l done a bit of formatting work with the images before uploading them to Lulu.

I did make mistakes in the printing journey:

  1. I incorrectly used the bleed lines on the template and so there are coloured borders on the book that should not necessarily be there.
  2. I did not configure a spine, which I would do in the future.

These are mistakes I can address in the next print run, if I decide to do one. Ironically, this blog post will probably be included in the next version of the printed blog, if I decide to print out my blog again to include some of my more recent works.

This book is not available in print to anyone (unless demand justifies a print run, which I do not believe is imminent). It is for me to have in my drawer and to look at from time to time. There is something magical about holding my blog posts in my hands and being able to say “I wrote everything in this book.” It must be similar to the feeling authors get when they get their works in print, too. Well, I am sort of an author with another name: a blogger.

One final note: you can print out any post on this blog and special styles will apply. If you go to save any page as a PDF or if you decide to print a page, the page will have a white background and will look slightly different to the version of the website you see now. This is achieved through CSS print styles which will likely be the topic of another post. In short, however, this blog is print friendly.

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