Blurb: Making Books (Even More) Fun

23 October, 2012

I went on an awe-inspiring tour of the art work in the Center for Addiction and Mental Health a couple of weeks ago (full details here). Sadly, I spoke about the experience with 3 different people, and then I couldn't find the motivation to blog about it as well. 

To avoid that same mistake, here's an immediate take on last night's Blurb event at Joe Bidali's (no one's heard about this yet!) The meetup description sounded extremely meh-over-trying-salesy - getting together bloggers, affiliates, web marketers (a spammy group as is) to talk about Blurb's affiliate program is almost as hardcore sales as those resorts which call you out to 'free' events so that you go & stay at them afterwards. But in the interest of blog-fodder & getting to meet some people I hadn't seen in a while, I decided to go anyway - and I'm so glad that I did. 

The event was the most beautifully piece of executed salesmanship I've seen in a while. I first heard of Blurb (which lets you create & publish books) when my husband presented me with this lovely creation on my 25th birthday - it's thrilling to see a whole book full of stuff you wrote, and to have it hardbound and presented that awesomely - well. Definitely one of the best gifts I've received.

Let's face it, I completely judge a book by its cover, and also by how it looks on the inside, quite apart from the content of it. Blurb does a great job acing on those two scores - these books make you want to pick them up, regardless of what the content is. 

They're equally good at making their event feel similarly superlative - the first thing I noticed when I walked into Joe Bidali's was coffee table after coffee table lined with similar beautiful looking books for people to pick up and glance through at their own leisure. Next, the seriously generous spread of food, laid out to facilitate conversation around it. This picture on the right makes no sense at all (note the giant leg occupying most of it!), but it reflects the tone of the evening - it felt the complete opposite of salesy, and yet made you want to buy.

They did a short presentation on a couple of projects they'd worked with (my favorite was the story of 28 food bloggers who compiled a cookbook, the proceeds of which went toward Haiti earthquake relief), and just in case anyone needed more convincing, we all got gift certificates to publish a book for free. I'm definitely going to take them up on that offer, they did a stellar job of getting me re-excited about the product. Kudos to a great marketing team!

Nuit Blanche

30 September, 2012

My school had a drama workshop program for the 11th & 12th graders - it was a two-month emo extravaganza that usually produced far more drama than was ever seen by the audience in the final production. All-nighters were frequent, as is inevitable when scenes were rewritten about seven hundred times each.

I remember staying up one entire night watching the colors of the sky change, and discussing each phase in great detail with a senior. It was awesome, in a we'll-never-do-this-again(-and-thank-God-for-that-maybe) kind of way, and it was the memory I flashed back to when I first heard of Nuit Blanche.

Nuit Blanche, or White Night, is an all-night free-for-all cultural extravaganza which originated in France and made its way to multiple cities around the world. While that's exciting enough in itself (let's not forget I have a degree in art), some of the pieces' descriptions had me even more hooked.

Example: thought balloon, an installation where people typed out their thoughts which were projected real-time for everyone else to see. It's a reflection of how we share information in the age of social networks. I made a detailed map of all the things I wanted to see, but on the actual night, found it far more fascinating to just wander around looking at everything and everyone.

Many of the exhibits had an interactive element and as I walked through downtown checking out Nuit Blanche, I thought the audience defined the art as much as the piece itself. Though we walked fast and didn't stay longer than 10 minutes at any exhibit, it was an evening which gave me a lot to think about. I'm far too diplomatic to pick favorites, but my husband and a friend who came along agreed that their pick of the night was the Convenience Store exhibit.

It was written about in every single newspaper promoting Nuit Blanche as one of the highlights, and it took us 1.5 hours to view it, but it was worth it for the sheer effort the artists had put in and the overall effect of the convenience store. Can you believe each of those boxes in that picture is a mock item, with a tealight inside? We were each allowed to pick an item to take home - I chose the light bulb, that way I was the only one who got the product that the box said it carried!

My favorite take-away from the night was this Xerox copy that my husband and I created. As juvenile a concept as Xeroxing your body parts is, and as much as I resented the waste of paper (most people just threw their copies on the ground), this one was an unexpected keeper.