Tuesday, February 13, 2007


SOME OF YOU have said you prefer reading books to blogs. Here's your chance to prove it.

I've vanity-published two sets of travel dispatches, and I'm pleased with the results. The first one I did, about six weeks ago, is called The Company of Strangers and contains the dispatches blogged here last October and November, when we were traveling in the Netherlands, Piemonte, and sojourning in Budapest and Vienna.

128 pages, 6x9 perfect-bound paperback, four or five black-and-white photos, available for purchase here.

I'm more pleased with the more recent title, Roman Letters, which gathers the two sets of travel dispatches sent from Rome in January and November, 2004. It's a bigger book, at 250 pages, and it has a much more beautiful cover. More to the point, it seems to me the writing is better, probably because Rome can't help but make one think. There are more black-and-whites, too, 21 of them, but they seem to go a little fuzzy. If you want photos, you can't beat seeing them online, I guess the moral is.

But for reading words, some of us still prefer books. 258 pages, 6x9 perfect-bound, order it here.

Both these titles were self-published online using Lulu.com. It's a simple process: you lay out the book the way you like it, turn the result into a .PDF file, and upload it to Lulu. You do the cover the same way. There's no charge for this service; Lulu apparently makes their money by printing the results. When a reader orders a book it's printed and bound to order and shipped right out — in a week or ten days it arrives in the mail.

I recommend this process. I think it will revolutionize small-audience publishing — and finally, for better or worse, writers can publish without dealing with editors and designers. They have only themselves to blame for the results.

Of course there's no money in it...

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