I recently went looking for some software to make a blog into a book. Here’s what I found:
- Lulu will take PDF files for a book. Blogbooker.com will try to create a PDF from a blog. Unfortunately, my blog made BlogBooker choke (I have 991 posts from my blog) — even when I excluded comments.
- Blurb.com will try to create a book from a blog, but it only supports blogs hosted on WordPress.com, not other WordPress blogs. That will help some people who want to print their blog into a book, but not everyone.
- I had the best luck with FastPencil. In order to reduce the size of your exported blog, you’ll first want to go to your comments section, click on the “spam” link and clear out any spam comments by selecting all the spam comments and clicking “Empty Spam”. Then you can export your WordPress blog (from the Dashboard, click Tools, then Export) as an XML file that you can download to your computer. From there, FastPencil lets you upload the .xml file and then select which blog posts to include in the book. You can also filter by time, which I had to do. Even my blog posts (no comments) from the last year and a half still made a 350+ page book, and FastPencil choked on turning my entire blog into a book.
FastPencil did a few things well. Included images were imported, and some formatting such as bold made it into the PDF. But other formatting, such as code formatting and newlines/spacing between paragraphs didn’t make it. Embedded content such as videos or polls were likewise empty. Trying to import my entire blog also didn’t work. But all in all, I was impressed with FastPencil. They also have nice collaboration tools (e.g. you can designate editors, reviewers, co-authors, and project managers to help in writing/polishing the content). The site also works through your web browser instead of as a downloadable program, which appealed to me. If you’re used to WordPress, FastPencil won’t be too much of a change.
It’s still not a point-and-click affair to make a nice looking coffee table book out of a blog, but it’s getting closer. Right now, the “make a book” niche feels like the early days of recordable CDs. Back then, CD-R discs were expensive enough that I would spend time to make sure that I used all the free space on the CD. Eventually prices dropped so much that you didn’t feel bad about burning a half-empty or not-perfectly-polished CD.
If you’ve tried other blog-to-book services or websites, let me know your experiences in the comments.