Holiday Gift Ideas: Go Publish Yourself

As the end of the year and the holiday season approaches I start to think of photos. Whether it's realizing that another year has gone by that I haven't organized our photos into albums, or the thought that maybe I should put together some photos of the kids for holiday gifts.

Luckily my friend, Sara, has figured this all out for us already. She recommends a website called which can help you turn your photos into albums lickity split. It's great whether you're just getting organized or perhaps making some holiday gift books. Here's what Sara says:

Is your hard drive full of digital images of your kids, and your conscious full of guilt for not having them in albums? Good news. You don't have to print them and stick them in albums while listening to John Stewart and thinking you really should be in bed. Thanks to the combined miracles of the internet and cheap color laser printing, you can download an easy-to-use program, arrange your pictures, and with a few clicks of the mouse, a lovely hardbound book featuring yours truly and your brood will be in the mailbox a few weeks later.

I tried this for last year's pictures - let's call it my 2006 holiday vacation project. A laptop will come in handy that you can carry around your in-law's house while your children clamber for your attention. Deflect them to relatives, and try this:

Dump each batch of pictures in a folder by month (or by event). Then make a folder called "album" within each folder, and pull the images you deem album-worthy into that. Download Booksmart,'s free software for laying out a book (There are several other comparable services, including Picaboo, which looked good but pricey, and Lulu, which looks awesome for people who want to use Quark or Indesign for laying things out). Pick the size of your book and begin importing your "album" folders. Drag your images into the templates, which range from full page bleeds to one with a dozen thumbnails (which I found great for the low res stuff we shot on our phones). You can crop, rotate & move the images within each frame. Any other manipulations, (like photoshopping out the random kid who got in your family photo and will confuse future geneologists) need to be done before you import the photos.

I got a 120 page book for around $40, plus 2 extra copies for each of the kids. With the offensive price of ink cartridges, I think this is much cheaper than trying to do something at home. And you'll be able to say "I just published my first book" and it won't be entirely untrue.

I learned some new things about blurb's site. They have a tool called the Flickr Slurper that lets you automatically stream your Flickr photostream right into a blurb book document. They have a similar tool for turning your blog into a book at the touch of a button. Hmmmm....

Blurb's site also has a post on their blog with other holiday gift ideas for creating books. I particularly like the idea of creating your own unique ABC books. You can even sell your creation in the blurb bookstore. Or if you aren't planning on giving your books away as gifts, your family and friends can buy their own copy through the bookstore too. Another nice way to share photos.

Thanks for sharing this great info, Sara!