I still can remember my first book. It was a hand me down with crumbled corners and a ripped page or two, but it was Mine. In fact, I think that might have been the title, since whenever I began to chant “Mine! Mine! Mine!” my mom would put that book in my lap, and I would quiet down and smile.
To this day, I could describe the hand drawn pictures on each page of that book, along with the deep greens and reds that were spattered across the page surrounding dark and sometimes crooked letters, even if I can’t remember the title. And, every once in awhile, when I wander through a bookstore, or on Amazon or iBooks, I’ll look through the children’s section to see if I can find that white cover with the red and green caterpillar dashing across the front.
That first book didn’t give me a love to read; it taught me the beauty of story. The ability use my imagination to travel to the same worlds and ideas that the writer’s mind existed in and express myself through carefully selected words strung together to evoke emotion and thought.
It’s why Graphicly has been so important to my life. The ability to marry my aptitude for technology with my love for story was something that I couldn’t let pass. And, over the past four years, we have done some wonderful things, seeing creators who have fought so hard to get their stories out into the world finally be rewarded by watching people become readers and fans.
Digital publishing and self-publishing is bombarded with words like “disruption” and “innovation”. There is fear that it will somehow destroy the book and take print publishing with it. What we miss in this argument is that the technology of publishing — be it print or digital — by definition, limits the ability of the creator to share the story in his head. And while constraints are often good, art has never been actualized while being held back. For me, digital is the evolution of print, not it’s replacement. Digital allows creators another canvas on which to tell their stories. Yes, while it can be integrated with other media types, the deeper evolution is actually in the distribution platform. I no longer have to work for years in solitude, I can share my work as I work with those that will eventually be the distributors of my work.
Page and word counts no longer matter. Illustrations and images are welcome, rather than discouraged. A page literally can change size based on the reader, and no longer even need to be sequential.
Digital doesn’t replace print; it stands along side it as both can take the same story and tell it differently, collaboratively/expansively.
For all the promise of digital, there is nothing that demonstrates the love a fan has for a creator that the buying of a printed work. The act of placing a book on a shelf, of touching and smelling the pages, is irreplaceable.
As we spent more time with creators and fans, it became apparent that we were telling half the story. That the digital story, while interesting and compelling was incomplete.
We started to look for a solution for the creators and publishers that used Graphicly daily.
In the time that Blurb has been around, they have built a profitable business around helping creators create beautiful print books. Nearly 2 million creators have made nearly 10 million books through Blurb.
They get the power of story, and more importantly, print, digital and self-publishing.
As often happens in conversations like these, we began to realize that one plus one could equal five if we worked together rather than separately.
Which leads us to today. Today is the Graphicly team’s first day at Blurb. (I’ll leave talk about the transaction to other more journalistic channels. Let me just say that everyone is happier today than they were yesterday.)
I am excited to have the support and infrastructure to work with Eileen Gittins, Blurb’s CEO and the rest of the Blurb team to create a complete experience for creators looking to own their stories and tell them to the world.
And, while this may be my final blurb on Graphicly, it is just the beginning of the real, complete story.