My wife (or Santa Claus?) gave me a very cool Christmas present. I was totally surprised when I opened the package and I had a printed version of this weblog in my hands! It is a hardcover book, printed on high-quality glossy paper with all weblog entries from September 24, 2004 until December 5 this year. All posts including pictures fill a whopping 554 pages. I am very happy with this, all my memories and ideas from the past 2 years in one book.
If you had asked me before I would have probably said that a blog is not interesting in printed version, but now that I have this book in my hand I would take back these words right away. It’s not comparable actually, in a blog you can click on links and add comments – it’s all interactive. But a printed version is different, you can flip through like a magazine which gives a totally different feeling to it. A lot of the posts I had totally forgotten about already, and it is nice to see how some ideas and thought have developed. I am extremely happy with this present, and have already spent more than an hour reading old posts and looking at pictures.
Of course this present gives me a new business idea right away. One that likely already exists: setting up an easy-to-use website where people can upload their blog (with interfaces for the main blogging tools/programs) and where they have to do the editing themselves (drag and drop, it should be so simple that everybody can do it). And then they can send it off to a printer in China, where it is printed within a week. Choice of hardcover or softcover, several types of binding, and for busy bees like many of us also a service where people do the design of the book for you (for a hefty fee of course). With the huge growth in blogs over the past years I think there could be a big market for this, especially for birthday or christmas gifts. I am sure this has been done before, but at least those sites’ marketing is not good enough, because I did not hear about them. So there seems to be a business potential. I won’t do it, no time for new projects, but maybe one of my readers would like to develop the idea and turn it into a (big) business.
Update: I just heard that there is already a Chinese company doing this, www.inker.com.cn. You can upload your document on the site and they print it for you. Not sure if this is the easy-to-use idea that I have in mind (you can download a ‘bookmaker’ tool on the site), they seem to focus more on printing novels and poems. They also do not have an English site, so whoever is interested in the idea might be able to team up with them.
When I was randomly searching for pictures of christmas in china, I found your blog, and it was a happy surprise! Your writings have been very entertainning and genuine; the most eye-catching thing is you really capture the new winds blowing in China at a surprisingly updated pace, are you China-ed as well? 🙂 Your blogs do show the very active mind filled with fresh new energy, which is very nice to experience in life!
The communication level between East and West has been far away from where the mutual benifits are. At least this is my genuine experience after living in Rotterdam for 3 years. China is ambitious and ready to go global, (although it needs to absorb many of its in-house issues to catch up the efficiency level), however the west is not totally openning its eyes to this side of the world. I can not immediately judge whether it is reasonable or legitimate, but if it is the route west will take, it will also take whatever the results would be.
There is one top-hit documentary now on China’s media about how western countries got their path upward since 1500 when China was taking a down road. If we want to know about future, we have to look into the history, like watching oneself in the mirror. Being broad-viewed,reflective, objective and critical has indicated that China has already adapted itself into a global thinker. My question will be what would west react on this? Maybe follow the destiny, maybe adopt a new way of thinking, or maybe it takes more cross-national thinkings to get somewhere like what you are doing…excellent work Marc, keep on the spirit!
I asked already whether some of the i-wisdom readers would like to get a version of it in print.
A few US companies are already doing this. http://www.lulu.com is one of them. Of cause, like all the US companies, they have you do all the design and generate a PDF.
I think that a such company based in China is in much better position to do this for the high quality design and printing at very attractive price.