Converting Blog Series Into A Book

March 3, 2010 — Leave a comment

I recently read a Matt Cutts post about seeking software that scrapes and compiles multiple blog posts into a format that could be used as the basis of a book. Here’s what Matt reported with my commentary added in:

Lulu will take PDF files for a book… Blogbooker.com was designed to create PDF documents from blog posts. The combination of both would seem to be a book in the making for many bloggers. Unfortunately, Matt Cutts’ blog made BlogBooker error out (Matt has over 900 posts in his blog) — the app lets users exclude comments, but Matt reports that excluding comments did not help. I cannot help but wonder if bandwidth, RAM memory, browser or any other user system variables may impact the results from running Blogbooker on large blog accounts.

Blurb.com will try to create a book from a blog, but it only supports blogs hosted on WordPress.com, and does not work with the popular self-hosted blogs that use the WordPress application platform. Matt’s experience with Blurb made me wonder how difficult it would be to export from a self josted WordPress blog and import content into WordPress.com but you would also have to deal with content policy at WordPress.com which I have seen cause relatively innoffensive blogs to get their accounts suspended by WordPress.com administrators. Blurb.com‘s ability to import WordPress.com content and convert into a book will be useful to many people who want to print their blog into a book, including me, but does not help me with my real treasure trove hosted on various Ning.com based blogs.

– Matt Cutts favors FastPencil for turning blogs into book format. Matt provides the following instructions for bloggers who use the WordPress platform on their own choice of server and hosting environment:

Reduce the size of your exported WordPress blog by deleting reader posted comments. Go into the WordPress comments section, click on the “spam” link and clear out any spam comments by selecting all the spam comments and clicking “Empty Spam”. Then export your WordPress blog by going into the Dashboard, click Tools, then Export, which generates an XML file that you download to your PC’s hard drive. FastPencil lets you upload the exported WordPress blog XML file and then select each of your blog posts that you want to include in the output book file. You can also use date filters, which Matt reports having to do. Apparently, once the output file goes over about 300 pages, FastPencil errors out or locks up. Personally, I recommend creating each chapter separately rather than using these types of Blog-to-Book apps to convert your entire blog into a single book output file.

Matt reports that FastPencil did several things well. Included images were imported, and some formatting such as bold made it into the PDF output file. 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 Matt’s entire blog also didn’t work. But all in all, he was impressed with FastPencil.

FastPencil offers 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 program loaded onto your PC. 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.

[Sent from Ralph Paglia’s iPhone]

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