Full-color books on Lulu

When I was writing The Librarian’s Guide to Micropublishing, I mentioned books with full-color printing throughout but admitted that I didn’t have any actual experience using Lulu or CreateSpace for full-color books. I anticipated that Lulu’s would look nicer because Lulu uses a heavier matte-finish paper specifically designed for color reproduction (but the pages also cost $0.20 each, where CreateSpace’s cost $0.12 each–in both cases, much more expensive than black-and-white books).

Do note that neither service offers the option of inserting a few full-color pages in an otherwise black-and-white book. It’s all or nothing.

Actual Experience with Full Color

I now have actual experience with Lulu’s full-color production–and it’s a fine example of the kind of thing micropublishing is ideal for.

Anna Julia Young — Autobiography is …well, here’s the description from the Lulu store page:

Autobiography of Livermore pioneer Anna Julia (Simmons) Young, who came to California from Illinois by covered wagon in 1862 and settled in Livermore, California, in 1869. Includes a foreword by Jo Eileen Presley Voelker, Anna’s granddaughter. Compiled and edited by Linda A. Driver, with genealogical notes by Nancy Glaiberman. Appendix includes genealogical information for the Young, Simmons and Rogers families. Illustrated, with footnotes, selected bibliography and index.

It’s quite a story–readable and compelling. My wife, Linda Driver, is related to Anna Julia Young (on the Simmons side). She got permission from the owner of the manuscript and gathered appropriate photographs from various sources–some of the photographs color or sepia. She also did all the layout (in Microsoft Word 2010–using Corel Paint Shop Pro to do the photo editing and prepare the front and back covers).

An interesting family story, fleshed out with further research, appropriate illustrations and an index–and transformed from a set of typed 8.5×11″ pages to a sleek 87-page 6×9″ paperback.

And it came out beautifully–we were delighted when the first color copy finally arrived.

This is exactly what micropublishing is all about–or at least it’s one of the many flavors: Making history more accessible and permanent.

There’s also a hardcover version and it also looks great.

I can recommend it if you’re one of the many who’re related to Anna Julia Young or if you’re interested in a real-life story of Northern California pioneers after the gold rush. And now I can confidently say that, if you make sure not to compress your photos (in Word) and don’t mind paying the price, you can get good full-color work from Lulu.

If you don’t mind paying the price…

There’s the rub, of course. If you follow either link, you’ll see that the prices aren’t modest: $28.50 for the paperback, $38.50 for the hardcover. My wife won’t be getting rich from her share of that price: We get less than $6 from each sale. (I think we’d need to sell 30 copies just to cover the copies she’s giving to historical societies and the people who provided permissions and material.) Full-color books done one at a time are expensive. But sometimes worth it.

Oh, and by the way: If you have something like this that you really want to do, but feel you lack the editing, layout, indexing and other skills needed (or the patience to fight work with Word on making sure illustrations and captions appear where they should)…my wife might be able to help. For a price, of course. You can reach her through email: lindadriver at gmail dot com.

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