Taking the ‘Bah’ out of Humbug

I decided that my long-suffering wife deserved a great gift this Christmas. Here’s how I did it. BRENDAN LEWIS

Brendan Lewis

By Brendan Lewis

According to Lifestyles of the Rich and Tasteful I am a member of the Australian middle class, and I am either driven by money or cultural attainments.

I reckon cultural attainments push my buttons. My wife clearly sits on the cultural attainments side as well, as she values a unique experience much more than a new car (her favourite pastime is making cheese).

So for Christmas, I want to get her a unique gift. Applying my usual methodology of staring at a blank wall, I came up with brilliant idea.

A book. But not just any book though, a one of a kind book written just for her.

Enter digital printing on demand. Getting a book printed and bound today is cheap and easy. You’ve probably noticed that plenty of shops now offer a service where they turn your digital photos into good looking album. The same works for the printed word.

The problem was that I am way too busy to write a book just for my wife, so I thought I’d cheat a little bit.

Step 1. Get a book

Surf over to http://www.gutenberg.org and grab a book. Project Gutenberg is an online collection of books. Around 1,000,000 titles of which 25,000 are free.

Note the word “free” in the English language does not distinguish between free of charge and freedom of use. However for this purpose the book I downloaded is in the public domain and was free of charge and had no restrictions on its use. Because my wife enjoys a good vampire story, I grabbed Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Bram Stoker died in 1912 so his books are in the public domain.

Step 2. Edit the book

Since I grabbed the text version of the book, I needed to tidy it up a bit. Using the global find and replace functions in my word processor to remove necessary carriage returns and make sure it’s laid out nicely.

I also had to remove the Project Gutenberg licence (which I am allowed to do) because the licence doesn’t allow me to edit the book.

I then did a global find and replace changing the heroine’s name. Mina Harker becomes Simone Lewis, and just Mina became just Simone.

The title gets changed from Bran Stoker’s Dracula to; “Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the Simone Lewis Edition”.

Yes I know someone will think that this is sacrilege.

Step 3. Get it printed

Now there is a variety of Australian organisations that do digital book printing on demand, but I couldn’t find one that offered what the American website Lulu does. It has an interface that allows me to upload my book, design its cover and commission printing for a run as small as one book.

So for $US38 plus shipping I get my unique book printed (hardback with jacket) and shipped to Australia. Printing takes 24 hours but shipping can take weeks.

Step 4. Accept massive browny points

I’m thinking I might do Treasure Island for the boy’s birthday in February.

I’m also thinking it could make for an interesting corporate gift. I know a couple of Counts of Monte Christo and Long John Silvers.

Anyway, Happy Christmas.


Brendan Lewis is a serial technology entrepreneur having founded : Ideas Lighting, Carradale Media, Edion, Verve IT, The Churchill Club, Flinders Pacific and L2i Technology Advisory. He has set up businesses for others in Romania, Indonesia and Vietnam. Qualified in IT and Accounting, he has also spent time running an Advertising agency and as a Cavalry Officer with the Australian Army Reserve.

To read more Brendan Lewis blogs, click here.



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