1. Choose an heirloom.
Not every family book merits the time and expense of producing a facsimile. You’ll have to be the judge of whether relatives will want a copy of Granddad’s auto service record—your car-enthusiast nephew might think it’s a treasure.
- old diary, album, letters or other book or documents
- computer with internet connection
- archival book storage box
2. Select a photo book service.
- Your internet connection: If you have a dial-up connection, sites with free desktop software, such as SmileBooks and Blurb, will let you work offline.
- Price: Costs vary widely by site. Many services offer a 8×8-inch 26-page hardcover book for under $40. To save money, you could create a book and then wait for a sale (especially frequent around gift-giving occasions) to pull the trigger. “Like” the Facebook pages and subscribe to the newsletters of services you’re considering to stay abreast of deals. Also look for special offers on sites such as Groupon.
- Sharing: Building a book for family members to purchase? Seek a service with built-in sharing so relatives can view and order their own copies. You even may be able to open your book to the public or share it on Facebook. Check out books I’ve made on various sites using the links at www.thefamilycurator.com/heirloom-books.
3. Add context.
Aunt Fanny’s Foods Notebook is a fun look at 1940s home economics, and it’ll be more meaningful to relatives with photos and a short version of Fanny’s life story added at the beginning. I also could annotate recipes with equivalent measurements or notes on ingredients. Here are a few ideas for adding context to your reproduction book:
- Write an introduction with a photo of the author at the time the book was written and a short biography.
- Compile a timeline of the author’s life and add dates from the book, such as “Nov. 5, 1902: Grandma records her first diary entry.”
- Add a family tree generated from your genealogy software program.
- Create a map with markers highlighting places mentioned in the book.
- Include an appendix listing who’s who in the book and how they’re related to the author.
- Insert an index to people, places and events mentioned in the book.
- Enhance relevant pages with photos or news clippings related to the writings.
- Transcribe hard-to-read passages.
Many of these suggestions don’t require special writing skills; you can use information from your genealogy research. Find more ideas for personalizing family books in The Future of Memories by blogger Denise Barrett Olson (self-published; www.moultriecreek.us/gazette/?p=3941), a digital idea book filled with examples and how-tos. Just remember to keep your focus on the original work as you add context.
4. Scan your book.
Now it’s time to digitize the content of your book. Give yourself plenty of scanning space. Some books are bound so tightly they’re difficult to lay flat on a scanner, so you might need to use a large table where you have room to support one side of the book as you scan each page. Clean your scanner glass with a soft cloth and wash your hands.
Use photo-editing software to clean up any cropping errors and make desired enhancements. I err on the side of fewer adjustments so the book will be true to the original—torn pages, stains and all.
5. Create the reproduction.
6. Order, share and preserve.
Start your search for an online photo book service with these sites. You also can create books on the websites of many stores with photo departments, including Target and Walgreens.
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