Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ancestry Press - I Made Books!

Update: I just received an email from a Senior Product Manager at AncestryPress to clarify some of my feedback below - see the strikethrough and the updated text in bold below.

I am so psyched because the books that I created over at using their Ancestry Press feature arrived last night. And I am very pleased and impressed. Of course, this is the first time I've ever taken portions of my family history research and opted to have them "published," as it were. And I took a chance on this feature to create some holiday gifts this season.

Ancestry had a great offer of a reduced price and free shipping but that ended on October 31, 2007. Ancestry still has an introductory offer in effect but the free shipping expired on October 31, 2007. I didn't want to feel rushed so I decided I would submit my books for publishing when I was ready. Here is a brief description of how it worked:

- While I already had an abridged family tree on Ancestry's site, that wasn't a requirement. All the information for "Kenny's Choice" was taken from my blog posting and copied to the publishing application.

- Photos were easy to import and upload to Ancestry's site. The information in the publishing feature is secured with your login and password and not available to other users or posted elsewhere on Ancestry's site.

- I started with a blank book, and then found the Military Service template. This allowed me to drag a photo of Kenny on to the page, edit the timeline with important dates, and list his dates of service and medals awarded.

- There are close to 200 different embellishments available to also drag onto pages. These include pins, tags, buttons, lists, and quotes. I liked the format of some of the quotes but I didn't care for the content - it wasn't appropriate for this project. No problem - I was able to edit the text using one of the quotes from my article.

- I was worried that aligning items would be difficult. There were some missteps in the beginning but I soon got the hang of it. I was able to align text with photos and embellishments. I had to do this quite a bit with the book I created on my partner's family history. There were lots of items that had to be evenly spaced and it was fairly easy to do.

- Right now the limit is 24 pages which is more than what I needed. A book length is not limited to 24 pages as I had stated - a book can be up to 100 pages long. The introductory price for a 24 page book is $29.95 with each additional page priced at $0.39 per page. I also know that Ancestry is working to add new features and relies upon the feedback of its users.

- Each project is saved to Ancestry's site and can be accessed at a later date and even republished.

- The turnaround time was fantastic - the stated time was 3-4 weeks but I received mine in less than 2 weeks Ancestry has changed the book fulfillment time from 3 - 4 weeks to 2 - 3 weeks. I was worried the books would not be here in time for Christmas but they were.

The finished product? It is difficult to actually see the quality in the slideshow above. There is gold stamped lettering on the cover (up to 2 lines). The cover is a "leatherette" but it doesn't feel cheap. The pages are glossy and the photos are clear. One issue I worried about was photo resolution. But the application won't allow you to drag a photo on to a page if the resolution doesn't meet a minimum standard. While the application will allow you to drag a photo onto a page even if the resolution doesn’t meet the minimum standard, once the image has been placed on a page a warning icon is displayed. If the image is scaled to a point where the resolution is less than recommended, you can decide to remove the photo and select a better one.

If you've used this feature at Ancestry please let me know your thoughts. And if you've used other methods of publishing your research I'd be interested in how that process went.

1 comment:

Jasia said...

They look great, Thomas! I'm so pleased that you wrote up your experience and the result. I'm always interested in seeing what people create from their family history research.