November & December theme:
“Choose One Thing”
Posted in :  Diversions

Our creative work at Fathom is primarily digital, even in books, magazines and annual reports, but lately we are seeing a resurgence in print. With small press options helping to lower costs and retain quality, marketers are selectively investing in print for special projects. Aside from marketing, there are other reasons too. Like, the chance to create something lasting and meaningful for those around you.

Recently, Fathom’s Jenn Ford and Joe Philippon (whose expertise in print and design long pre-empts the days of computer keyboards and pixels) worked on a side project together to design a hardcover, commemorative book as a Christmas present for Jenn’s Dad, Ron Haines. Ron is the author of a blog, The Urge to be Someplace Else, a memorial to his adventure of canoeing the entire Mississippi River in 2003, starting at the beginning of the river at Lake Itasca in Minnesota to New Orleans. It took him 106 days. He wrote about the journey along the way, and then created the blog in September 2011 with his journal entries.

An inside spread for The Urge to Be Someplace Else

So, why print a book if Ron has a private, written journal and a public blog? What could a printed book do that the journal and blog can’t? I sat down with Jenn to get her thoughts about the print-on-demand process and how the book turned out:

SC: Why did you decide to publish a book for your Dad? Why not just have his experiences live online?

JF: I worry about WordPress going out of business or being sold or servers exploding or something and the content and photos no longer being there. I wanted something that generations to come could look at and see what their grandpa, great grandpa and so on did. It’s really a great accomplishment and I’m so proud of him for doing it and doing such a good job documenting it.

Not only did the book format allow Ron's personal journal and blog to be memorialized in print, it also allowed for a scrapbook format and the ability to add newspaper clippings to help tell the full story

SC: Where did the name of his blog come from?

JF: He takes a line from the first paragraph of Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America: “When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.”

SC: What publishing/printing platform did you use?

JF: I did a little bit of online research and found Blurb. I started with Shutterfly, but found that those books were much more biased towards photos and could not handle the text that would be involved with this book. I also liked that Blurb would let us upload a custom design.

SC: What was the process like?

JF: For me, the process was a lot like any print project we do at Fathom. Joe provided a few initial designs and once we decided on one he moved forward with layout. We then had several rounds of back and forth to flush out all the details and lots of QA (i.e., “quality assurance”) since it’s a big copy-heavy book. It was a pleasure working with Joe on a freelance basis, as it is working with Joe at Fathom.

SC: Are you happy with how they turned out, and what are you doing with the copies?

JF: Very happy. We only ordered a few since the books were relatively expensive in my opinion. As it turns out, they were not that expensive given how beautiful they turned out!  I believe we got a discount if we ordered seven or more. We ended up ordering just one for each of the families within our family, thinking that they could pass it around and down through their families. For us, this book is more for personal use, to have as a hard copy document of something neat to share with our family.

The Urge to Be Someplace Else looks good on many a coffee table among the Ford-Haines families

SC: What does your Dad think of the book?

JF: I think he’s really excited about it, but you might want to ask him. He’s not the gushing type. ;)

So, I did ask Ron and here is what he had to say . . .

“I think the book is really terrific. Joe did a very nice job with the design and I know Jenn worked very hard to make sure it all came out well. I am grateful to her for undertaking this large project and creating something that will be of such lasting value for future generations of our family. When I finished the blog version I was pretty much done with documenting my voyage and did not have the energy to pull off the sort of book that she made happen. I am happy she did it.” — Ron Haines

Comment with Facebook

Posted by: Suzi Craig
Email the author: