Every so often I see an offer to turn my blog into a book. Should I try to do this? I like to have the printed word in hard copy so that I can feel it in my hand. I often print out longer documents to read rather than trying to digest them on the screen. And of course you can make comments and add annotations or just add “Post-it” notes on key pages. If you’re not quite sure what you are looking for it is easier to flick through a book rather than try to use a search function when you don’t know what word to use.
However there are good reasons why a blog shouldn’t be transferred directly into a book. In How to turn your blog into a book Scott Berkun points out that “a book is a different reading experience to a blog. . . . . A book is a longer reading experience, and every chapter, or every page, needs to line up in a readable way with the others.”
Another difference between a book and a blog is that a blog is a continuing stream so a book almost certainly will be an extract from the blog. However it will not necessarily have clear cut off points unless you want it to cover a specific period of time or particular activity.
So to create a book from my blog would take a lot of effort and thought. Then would anyone read it? If I were to be the only person to read it would that matter? There would be a certain amount of satisfaction from creating a book even if no-one else did read it – just as for the aborigines in Australia the creation of their rock art was more important than the finished object.
Since I retired I have given talks on a variety of topics to a number of local (and not so local) organisations such as U3As and WIs. I have turned two of these talks into books. The first I put to bed seven years ago, the second I have just completed.
I first gave my “Furthest South” talk (to Princes Risborough U3A) in 2012 and produced a draft book in early 2016. I had it printed and decided that it could be improved. I mulled it over while I was having chemo and also found other things to include – I read a few more books and we visited Scott’s first ship, RRS Discovery, when we took a holiday in Northumberland and Scotland last September. By the time we had a holiday in Wales in March it was in good shape and I needed to work on the illustrations and design. I considered whether or not I might include some of the photographs of Scott’s and other expeditions and discussed this with the Scott Polar Research Institute but decided against doing so – instead I would point readers to their “Freeze Frame” library. Eventually I was satisfied with what I had written and got the book printed.
What do I cover in this book “Furthest South“? I take you on a journey from the early ideas of what might lie at the bottom of the world (Terra Incognita) through the journeys of Drake, Cook and others to the ‘Heroic Age’ of Antarctic exploration (Amundsen, Scott, Shackleton, Mawson). We then move on via Operation Tabarin to the first land crossing of the continent (Fuchs 1957/8) and conclude with Antarctica today as a place of unique scientific collaboration and a very special tourist destination. In 2006 my wife and I went to Antarctica on a converted icebreaker. I conclude the book with the story of that trip when we flew via Buenos Aires to Tierra del Fuego then by boat across Drake Passage and down the Antarctic Peninsular as far as the Polar Circle (which was first crossed by Captain Cook in 1773).
As with my talks, any profits will go to charity – Rett UK.
So having put quite a bit of effort into developing my “Furthest South” talk into a book over the past year or two, I will leave the idea of turning this blog into a book for the present. If I were to do anything else on the book creation front at the moment it would be to produce a version of Furthest South which would appeal to middle school children – one of my granddaughters is learning about Antarctica at school at the moment and was delighted to be able to take a copy of this book in with her. Obviously if I were to do this I would need to take advice from my granddaughters!