Creating a book from a blog (unintentionally, for free)

Guy Kewney, who I’ve known for many years, kept a little-known blog from which he let rip on whatever was bugging him at the time. In the past year or so, a lot of his commentary was about the cancer – its symptoms and treatment – that claimed his life on April 8.

On March 1st, he wrote a particularly poignant entry which, in summary, showed that he’d finally given up hope. This gave me the idea of starting a tribute blog to which people could post comments and stories for Guy to enjoy while he still could. Guy read the blog comments until very close to the end.

Yesterday, his wife Mary wrote to me to say, “I could never explain to you what a positive thing it was for Guy. It was truly life changing.” Which is wonderful to hear. Thank you Mary.

After his death, the tributes poured in, many of which appeared online. These were duly listed and linked to in the blog. Eventually, things dried up and it seemed a good time to ‘freeze’ the blog.

I wanted to create a CD of the blog, but getting it out of Typepad in a way that it could be read and navigated easily without an internet connection was difficult, to put it mildly. Then I stumbled across a program called website2PDF from spidersoft in Australia. By providing a list of the pages, it created (as you may have guessed) a .pdf file of the blog.

At first it was 54 pages but, by removing the ‘recent comment’ list and tweaking the layout, it ended up as a 39-page 1MB file. The next step is to print it and bind it. The print quality looks good but the font is pretty small because the blog design doesn’t take advantage of the full width of the paper. I am still wrestling with that problem…

I had paid the publisher for a full licence, to see if I could gain more control over the pdf layout, but that’s yet to arrive. (I thought these things were automatic. And, no, it didn’t go to my spam folder.) I did the whole job with the free trial version which, I think, lasts for 15 days, but I can’t find that information anywhere.

Bottom line? It’s great that website2PDF does a good job of capturing website pages(doesn’t have to be a blog, by the way) to a pdf. You can choose to have hotlinks, automatic text and picture breaks, ActiveX, scripts and a host of different layouts. It was only $49, so it’s not a bank-breaking exercise and I felt it would have been worth it for this one job alone. But, of course, I do look forward to becoming a registered user because it’s sparked off some more ideas for easy eBook creation.

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Update: After failing to extract a response from the author (4 emails) I raised a dispute ticket with PayPal. This prompted an instant response from the author. Apparently, the automated licence system had failed.

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