Eileen Gittens, Blurb on Killed Ideas, Self Publishing & Offline as Amplifier
Susan Bratton

Episode 138 - Eileen Gittens, Blurb on Killed Ideas, Self Publishing & Offline as Amplifier

Eileen is a a passionate advocate for self publishers.

She created Blurb, an on-demand publishing platform that enables anyone to design, share, market, and sell bookstore-quality books, out of her own need to create a small quantity of beautiful books with her own photography.

With over one 1.2 million books produced and '09 revenues approaching $45 million dollars, Eileen is not the only one who wants to create short-run custom books.

Listen as Ellen shares:

  • The big picture overview of the changing book publishing landscape.
  • Blurb's business model and some success stories.
  • How you can  self publish and then put your Blurb book in Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc.
  • How to take your eBooks and manuscripts and turn them from digital product into hard copy books.
  • What the different categories of books are that are self-published. Which are the most popular categories (top 3) and which are not yet popular but Eileen believes will take off in the future because they are such smart ideas.
  • And three tips that are counter-intuitive that create a successful book using Blurb's technology.
  • Find out about the 80 VC's she kissed to get funding.
  • Steve Hall's Killed Ideas book about agency creative pitches that never got funding.
  • Why offline is an amplifier for the connections we make online.

And more, from this smart, clever CEO who took her desire and turned it into your pleasure.



Susan Bratton: Welcome to DishyMix. I’m your host, Susan Bratton, and on today’s show you’re going to get to meet Eileen Gittens. Eileen is the founder and CEO of Blurb, which is an on demand publishing platform. It lets you create your own book. And I’m going to tell you the story about how I met Eileen and why I think what she’s doing is so interesting; there’s a back-story. But before I get into that, I want to tell you about two things. The first thing I want to let you know is that I went to the Affiliate Summit. And you know that a couple of weeks ago I interviewed Dr. Robert Cialdini. Bob Cialdin is the person who wrote the book Influence: All About Persuasion. And he was the keynote at Affiliate Summit. And he did a marvelous job talking about how you use influence and persuasion, what you would call “psycho linguistics”, the words you use to persuade and influence people, especially in the time of a down economy. That was what his keynote was about, and I promised you that I would blog about it, and I did. I blogged his whole speech for you, so you can go the DishyMix blog and read that. and I brought back with me the giveaway that he gave out after the keynote. He gave out these pocket cards with the six rules of ethical influence on them, and I have 15 pocket cards to give away to DishyMix fans. All you have to do is go to the Facebook fanpage, dishymixfan.com, takes you right there, and post your request and I’ll snailmail one of the wallet cards out to you. And if you haven’t listened to the Cialdini interview on DishyMix, I highly recommend you do it. It’s great for marketing, for copywriting, and it’s really great just in your life, how to be a more persuasive and influential person. So let me give you that. I also want to dedicate this episode of DishyMix to Jody Milum. Jody is a dear friend of mine that just passed away this weekend, and she was a recruiter that worked for me a dozen years ago at Excited Home. She was the best recruiter, she hired the most fabulous sales and marketing people for me, and I just want to send her my love out into the world with this great interview, with another powerful woman that I think is terrific. So lets bring her on the show. Eileen Gittens, welcome to DishyMix.

Eileen Gittens: I am delighted to be here Susan. Thanks for the invitation.

Susan Bratton: Well we met because I moderated a panel at the Girls in Technology Catalyst conference, and you were a panelist and we hit it off. I was just really impressed with your story of Blurb and what you’re doing there and fascinated by the changing book publishing landscape. That back-story – I want to tell you that back-story too. I don’t think you – I don’t know if I told you this Eileen, but I was talking to my friend Jay Berkowitz and I was talking to him about the fact that I have two books, Talkshow Tips and Masterful Interviews, and they’re information products. They’re fully downloadable books, they’re not in physical form. And I was saying to him, “You know, hey, maybe I should call Wiley”, ‘cause I think his book was published by… “You know, maybe I should call a book publisher and see if they want to make it into a tangible book”, and he said, “Don’t do it. Go to Blurb or go someplace and create your own books yourself and make your own tangible goods. They’ll be cheaper than what you can buy from the publisher, and you’re not going to sell them anyway, you’re going to give them away to get your speakups and things, and they do nothing for you anymore. You should just make your own book.” And then about a week later, Eileen, I meet you. And I was already fascinated by this whole world. So fill our listeners in on Blurb. It’s a beautiful website, a beautiful concept. Just tell them what you do.

Eileen Gittens: Sure. Delighted to. So Blurb, as you mentioned, is a creative publishing platform. So we typically see two kinds of books. The first kind are the kind you just referenced, which are more informational – we call the wordy books – you know, text e-books. But the other kind are highly illustrated in photography, art, cook book, your blog book, pictures, art work; all those kinds of things you can design and create using Blurb. You can make one copy if you want, buy one. You can buy lots. We enable you to even sell them on our site at blurb.com if you wish. And to your point, Susan, about, you know, what publishers do for you these days, your friend is right. Unfortunately mainstream publishers just, they’re kind of in the Blockbuster business now. You know, they have to put all their money behind the next Stephen King novel. And so first time authors or authors who haven’t sold a ton of books don’t get a lot of marketing dollars. Additionally however, the publishers typically take a pretty hefty slice of that retail price. So with Blurb you keep 100 percent of the profits. That’s our model.

Susan Bratton: Give me some of the numbers on Blurb. I know that in 2008 you had revenues approaching $30 million dollars.

Eileen Gittens: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: How’d you do in 2009?

Eileen Gittens: Yeah, significantly better than that. It’s in excess of $45 million dollars…

Susan Bratton: Congratulations.

Eileen Gittens: Which is amazing given the economic times that we live in that we did so well. We ended up shipping more than I think a million-two hundred thousand books around the world to 72 countries. So it, you know, what’s really kind of amazing to me too, that its taken off as much as it has, and I think the reason for that is it really captures peoples passions. You know, whether you’re doing your business book, like you’ve done, you know, your domain expertise book. You’re still passionate about your topic even though it’s kind of a business book. The same can be said if it’s your cookbook or your vacation book. Or better yet, your family history or your baby book. Those things are really, you know, take a lesson out of, I guess it is Master Card, it’s priceless. You know what? It is priceless. To have a book like that, it’s priceless.

Susan Bratton: So I know that you are so nice to give two of our DishyMix fans a free book. You’re going to give them up to $39.95. That includes a book and usually we’ll cover the shipping of a typical book. And thank you for that. It’s really nice of you.

Eileen Gittens: Listen, you know, our pleasure, number one, because number two, we get the vast majority of our business through word of mouth. People when they get their books back, they are so amazed. It’s truly an “Oh my god” moment, that they immediately go out and tell everyone they’ve ever met, including their third grade teacher. So our job is to just give as many people as possible that experience, because that’s how we get the word out about the company.

Susan Bratton: So when you make a book in Blurb, are you paying $39.95 for each copy or is there a set up fee? Explain how it works from a consumer’s perspective.

Eileen Gittens: Sure. So here’s how it works. There are two ways you can make a book using Blurb. The first is we have free software. It works on either a Mac or a PC, and you can download it from blurb.com. There’s a big button right on the homepage, super simple. And the cool thing about that is for the 99 percent of the universe, including me, who are not book designers, it’s got all the templates and layouts and all that great stuff all dialed in for you, so you just kind of drag and drop your pictures in or cut and paste your text or whatever. Its got a full text engine, the whole works. Now if you are a designer, you can also use tools like In Design from Adobe. We have templates that are made for them too, they’re also free, and then you would upload the PDF. In either case, you make your book, you upload it to blurb.com in one simple step, and then basically you can buy one book or as many as you like. In fact you don’t even have to pay anything until you decide you want to buy a copy. And so when you decide you want to print one, you upload it and you can order as little as one copy, as I mentioned. Now for a word e-book, you know, a soft cover book, you know, with a colored cover and text inside – you know, like a novel – those start at literally $4.95 for a copy of one, and they’re based on page count. Color books start as little as $12.95 for a copy of one. And of course, like anything, the more copies you buy – you know, ten copies of the same title, we give you ten percent off and so on and so forth. And the way it works is you order a book, you place your order, you give us your credit card or your PayPal, you place the order and guess what, your book arrives back at your doorstep in about a week. As I mentioned before, if you want to – but you don’t have to – if you want to you can make it public in the Blurb bookstore, you can set your own price for that book. Lets just say hypothetically you made a book where the unit of one cost is $15 dollars, and you think the world is going to beat a path to your door for that book for $25 dollars. Literally we would send you $10 dollars every time somebody bought a copy of your book. That’s how it works.

Susan Bratton: Now can you self-publish on Blurb and then put it in other places? Like can you put your Blurb books in Amazon? 

Eileen Gittens: Sure. You can get – you know the ISBN number…

Susan Bratton: Yes.

Eileen Gittens: Yeah. So we’ve got instructions on our site for how to get an ISBN, if you want to do that and how to get it on the back of your book, you’re more than welcome to do that. The challenge with retailers, whether it’s Amazon or a physical retailer, if they want to, they typically take a pretty percentage of the book cost, of the retail price, in order to market that for you.

Susan Bratton: How much?

Eileen Gittens: Well it depends. Anywhere from usually at the lowest end with Amazon about 35 percent. And it can go up from there, for a physical retailer it can easily be 50 percent. So the economics get pretty pricey for the author. Now on the other hand let me say this, we have many, many customers who put their books on Blurb, they also post them to Amazon, but when they have an opportunity to drive people to a location they drive them to Blurb because they make, you know, ten times the amount of money on the book at Blurb as they do somewhere else. But the sort of, the credential, right, of having your book also distributed by a big name bookstore, a Barnes and Noble or Amazon, is very valuable to a lot of people and we appreciate that, so we tell you how to do it.

Susan Bratton: There are other book creator sites, like Lulu, as an example. Who are the other book creator sites and then how do you differentiate your niche?

Eileen Gittens: Yeah… So what started to happen several years ago, you may remember the term ‘vanity press’….

Susan Bratton: Sure.

Eileen Gittens: Sure. So that was, honestly that was kind of an icky business, where – you asked earlier about our set up fee. There are, there were people, and frankly there still are – so for your audience, buyer beware here – there are people out there who want to make a lot of money off of your set up fees and will promise you the sun and the stars about how many copies you’re going to sell. And basically what ends up happening is you write a big check and you end up with a few hundred copies of your book in your garage, which is not very happy. Then along came the internet in a real way, and companies like Lulu – and I’ll give them credit here – they said “You know what, there’s got to be a more up front way to do business here. Why don’t we create a bookstore, and we will charge somebody 25 percent of the retail price in order to sell their book? Right, not some exorbitant amount of money and we won’t charge them an exorbitant set up fee.” So that tends to be Lulu’s model; they take a percentage of every book that’s sold, and they don’t charge you big up front fees. They tend to be very focused on the, what we call the ‘author market’, which are people who write books. Blurb’s books for the most part – although we see many, many of those books, believe me – the vast majority of our books are color. They tend to be photography books of some kind or illustration or art work, the team school book, you know, the drama club on the personal book side, and then on the business side this is the fastest area of growth for Blurb, which is very different than the other sites, and that is because the fidelity of are – and the quality honestly of our books – is so high, brands are using books now as highly personalized marketing communications pieces. So Lexus does books with Blurb, Pixar does books, Disney does books, Toyota does books. I could go on. There are many, many. Microsoft, you know, does books. Adobe is doing a book using Blurb. So that is a big and growing piece of our business where those companies are not interested to sell the books at all. To your point earlier Susan, where you talked about giving them away, those are marketing pieces, they’re actually a cost for them. So our business model is not predicated on the commercial sale of books at all. We make money on the printing side, which gives us a lot more latitude to, you know, not have to make money from the resale of every book. So that means, you know, if you want to do your book about your 4th grade class and there’s, you know, five whole copies that ever got purchased, woo hoo. We think that’s fantastic because we make money on the print side even on a book of one.

Susan Bratton: Got it. That makes sense. So I want to go to a break and when we come back I want to keep going on Blurb, different categories of books, some of the popular categories, things that you think are great potential that people haven’t quite discovered yet. I want to talk also about you giving us tips to really create a successful book on Blurb, things that we wouldn’t maybe figure out ourselves that you’ve learned…

Eileen Gittens: Okay.

Susan Bratton: And then I want to talk about, a little bit about your path to getting Blurb funded, because I heard you say that you pitched 80 VC’s, and I want to find out more about that. So we’re going to go to a break to thank my sponsor, and when we come back we’ll find out the answers to that. If you would like to be one of the two people who gets a free book from Eileen, a Blurb book, just go to dishymixfan.com – that’s my Facebook fan page – post your desire, and we’ll select two people and make sure you get the promo code. Stay tuned. We’ll be right back.

Susan Bratton: We’re back with Eileen Gittens, the CEO of Blurb. And before we left we were talking about making books. So what I want to know first are what the different categories of books are that are self-published. You talked about wordy and illustrated, but I bet there are other kind of categories within there that you think about that are popular. And then which ones that you think “God, why aren’t people doing this?”, ‘cause we aren’t thinking of it. Tell us that too.

Eileen Gittens: Sure. So the big popular category – we kind of think of our audience in three parts; part one are personal books, and within personal books, these are books that are really created to share with friends and family, colleagues and maybe even just for your own self-expression. So in that group can be anything from your poetry, maybe even your bad poetry book, but something that you’ve always wanted to publish, to your blog. I know that you have a blog, Susan. We see a number of bloggers. We have tools that will automatically slurp – if you can believe it – slurp your blog into a book right before your very eyes. So we see blog books. We see cookbooks. So, and we see a lot of family cookbooks, which is very cool.

Susan Bratton: Ooh, I love that.

Eileen Gittens: It’s very cool because you kind of get this story – you talked about back story a little while ago. Those are the best. When people talk about “Oh this dish, you know, at my Aunt Edna’s house every Christmas for as long as I can remember” and you kind of really get that family sense. There often also illustrated with pictures of the family, not necessarily pictures of the dish. We see… So those are some really popular book types. And of course baby books, you know, children, you know, family vacation books, those kinds of things. The next category that I would like to call out, we see a number of these books, but boy, I think there’s a big opportunity here. And that is books as fundraising vehicles. So a while ago the Jimmy Carter Foundation Global Health Initiative did a book, and they were doing clinics in Africa and they photographed these beautiful, the beautiful outcome, right. So instead of a depressing book, it was beautiful. They sent it to the people who had donated funds as a thank you, and as I understand it from them, it became a vehicle for additional fundraising because people were so delighted with the results of the dollars that they had donated that apparently they opened up their checkbooks once again. So that happens now and we’re doing more and more of those kinds of fundraisers. Right now we’re doing two that I know of for Haitian earthquake relief. One is a cookbook in Canada with a television personality actually, like on their Food Network up there. She’s got a big following and she’s doing this cookbook and she’s donating a hundred percent of the proceeds to the charity. Occasionally Blurb can also contribute, maybe not quite a matching contribution, but depending on the project we have also been known to contribute to a cause. So that is a fantastic platform because we do it all. All the cause needs to do is create one book; their cost on it is the cost of a single book. And then they can just put it in the bookstore and publicize it. When you make a book we automatically generate like a little widget, a little advert, online advert. So if you have a blog or a website you can just put that little, that little badge on your site, and when people click on it it automatically takes them to the bookstore, your bookstore hosted at Blurb, where those people can buy a copy of the book. So again, if your book costs $25 dollars, but you think, you know, it’s a fundraiser and you want to charge, I don’t $50 dollars, literally $25 dollars from every book sale would go to the cost. So that’s a big shoutout for everybody who’s really trying to volunteer and do some good work. It turns out books are a really wonderful platform for that. And then the final one I’ll mention is the one I mentioned before and that is, wow, we’re we thrilled when the folks at Pixar sent through their book about the making of the Up movie, ‘cause we had all gone to go see it as a treat in the company. And to see, you know, the work in progress and the background, the making of and the celebration of all those people who worked so diligently on the film. They will have that book for the rest of their lives, and they will remember who they were when. And that’s just a really, really wonderful memory piece. So all of those are all great applications for Blurb.

Susan Bratton: I love it.

Eileen Gittens: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: All right. So tell me then three tips that are counterintuitive that create a successful book using your technology and your system. Or optimize the scenario for us. 

Eileen Gittens: Sure. So number one, when you’re making a photo book, which a lot of people start out with, and it’s great, right. I mean there’s, photographs these days with digital cameras are so fantastic. But I encourage people to please, please, please add some captions, a little bit of text. A great book is one that does not need the book creator standing over the shoulder of the person who’s reading the book to understand the context or the importance. That is a photo album. A photo album is just a collection of pictures; a book tells a story. So think about organizing your pictures in the narrative arc and think about using even just a teensy bit of text; it makes a world of difference. So that’s number one. Number two is we all take a bunch of images of the same subject because we’re not sure which one’s going to look the best. When you bring your pictures into Blurb to drag and drop them. Try to do your homework before you even bring them in ‘cause then you’re not staring at five pictures that all look the same. Pick one, pick a few, edit them first and then bring in that folder of pictures into Blurb and your book making will be a dram come true. So that’s number two. And then number three is don’t be daunted by the first one. I talk to a lot, we talk to professional photographers all the time. In fact, creative professionals are really our number one market, whether you’re an architect or a designer, a photographer, etcetera. And folks, you know, we all aspire to perfection. Well you know what, treat that first book as a little test. I mean for less than the cost of a pizza you can make a little test book, you can have the experience, you can get it back, you can look at it and say “Okay, now I know what I want to do.” So those are my three.

Susan Bratton: I love that. I love how you said “It’s less than the cost of a piece of pizza.” You’re a good sales woman, Eileen. Make a test, that’s good. All right, so I also, you made a book with Steve Hall. Probably most of my listeners know Steve Hall from Ad Rants. He is the gadabout that goes to every event that we do. And I loved the idea. Tell us about that. 

Eileen Gittens: Oh, that was one of the most, if not the most, fun project we did last year. So we were sitting around here at Blurb, we’re in San Francisco and a bunch of us are, you know, have come from design and art backgrounds. And we’re thinking “Okay, how do we reach our directors and creative directors around the world so that they can really appreciate what this medium can do for them.” ‘Cause we used to think about a book as a thing you buy at the bookstore. Well now a book can be anything. It can be a client deliverable, it can be your portfolio book, it can be your new brochure, you know, it can be anything, right. So it could be the making of the brand. So we thought “Well how are we going to approach these people so that they feel that we get it, you know? That they feel that we’re them, we get it and we’re not selling them.” So we talked to Steve because of Ad Rants and we said, “What do you think about this idea?” And the idea was could we invite people from all over the world to submit to Steve – Steve would be the curator – their best killed idea. So something that they worked on and for whatever reason – budget or a change of regime or time of the year or whatever – it never saw the light of day. It ended up on the cutting room floor. And could we structure the submissions in a way where you could submit stills from a video, say from a television, you know, broadcast piece, or from print media? Didn’t matter. Or could even be packaging for a product. And give us the little blurb honestly on, you know, what the product was or what the pitch was, what the intention was and why it didn’t get there, and then Steve – and this was the brilliant part – ‘cause Steve added his own, his own mojo as a little editorial comment for each one of the killed ideas and, as to why he selected it in the compendium. So there were maybe two hundred or so killed ideas that went into this first volume. He edited it, we worked with a book designer who was an agency friend of ours actually to design the book, and then we sent it out to about four hundred creative directors around the world just, you know, with a little letter that says “Hey, wanted to celebrate your work. This is awesome stuff. You know, check it out. Hope to see you on Volume two. Your friends at Blurb.”

Susan Bratton: It’s a great idea. I have to get a copy of that book.

Eileen Gittens: It’s awesome. I will be sure to send you one Susan…

Susan Bratton: I’d love one.

Eileen Gittens: Very cool.

Susan Bratton: Thank you.

Eileen Gittens: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: You kissed a lot of frogs before you met your princes.

Eileen Gittens: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: Did you really pitch your idea to 80 venture capitalists or was that a little expanded number?

Eileen Gittens: Well that was a little (unintelligible).

Susan Bratton: Okay.

Eileen Gittens: But you know what, it took me almost a year to get financed. So I mean and I took a lot of meetings. I honestly don’t think I have count, but it really seriously was at least 30 prompts, probably more. And the reason why it took so long was first of all the time, this was really late 2004-2005, and industry was just coming out the door…

Susan Bratton: Just coming out, yeah.

Eileen Gittens: Just coming out. It was really early days. And the second thing was – and this was the more critical factor – it was a very contrarian idea at the time. Everything was going online, if you remember.

Susan Bratton: Yeah, and you wanted to go offline.

Eileen Gittens: I know…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Eileen Gittens: Completely crazy.

Susan Bratton: You tangible girl, you.

Eileen Gittens: I know. And they all looked at me like “Gee, you’re smart and everything and we like you Eileen, but this is insane.”

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Eileen Gittens: So it took, it took a lot of…

Susan Bratton: Yeah, this was when Flickr was going crazy and everybody was uploading all their photos.

Eileen Gittens: Totally…

Susan Bratton: Yeah.

Eileen Gittens: in the blogoshpere….

Susan Bratton: But you saw ahead, because you knew you were a photographer and you wanted picture books.

Eileen Gittens: I did. I knew that going online was fabulous, but that meant that there were mountains of digital content that were being created, and surely some of that would want to find its way into a tangible form to be shared for whatever reason.

Susan Bratton: How many iPhoto books do you think people are making through Apple?

Eileen Gittens: Oh, I have no idea. I honestly…

Susan Bratton: Is it big?

Eileen Gittens: I honestly don’t know because as you know Apple doesn’t split out…

Susan Bratton: I know. 

Eileen Gittens: in their…

Susan Bratton: What’s your gut?

Eileen Gittens: Oh, I don’t think they’re big, as big as we are.

Susan Bratton: Mm hmm. It’s interesting ‘cause that’s who I’ve always used. Now, till I met you, right. And what I’m going to do is the next time I make a book I’m going to make the exact thing on Blurb that I make on iPhoto and I’m going to compare them.

Eileen Gittens: Oh you should.

Susan Bratton: Yeah. I’m going to look at the two and just see which, you know, how they come out.

Eileen Gittens: Yeah. With some fingers, toes and eyes crossed you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Susan Bratton: Oh yeah, I’m sure I will. You know, when we were doing the panel also at Girls In Technology Conference, you and the other panelists were all coming up with this common thread. I was hearing something that all of you were saying in different ways and we talked about it, and that was offline not jus that your product creates tangible goods, but that a lot of your marketing, your most successful marketing comes from some of the real world activities that you do. And so much of the time on DishyMix and with marketers today, we’re thinking about how we can leverage social media and buy advertising on Facebook and whatever we’re doing. Tell us about the offline marketing and programs that you’re doing that you think are giving you some incremental advantage.

Eileen Gittens: Yes, it’s really true. In fact we joke around the office that offline is the new online. And what we mean by that is of course for your audience we all know that the scale opportunity with social media and online is enormous, right. It just is. But we found offline to be an amplifier of the connections we make online. I’ll give you an example. So we do another, we had another program two years ago called Photography Book Now. And we thought, “Well why don’t we have a competition?” I mean if for the first time in history you can make any kind of book you wanted as a photographer, complete creative control, nobody standing over your shoulder saying “Oh that won’t sell” or “You can’t put that on the cover”, what would you make? So we invited people from around the world, they all submitted, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah. Fabulous, thousands of submissions. And then we felt, “Well, they’re books for gods sake. We have to go on tour. You know, we have to show people, you know, these books and have some meet-ups or some parties. Well everywhere we went literally it was sell out crowds. I mean we literally turned people away at the door. The fire marshall would come and get us. And what we realized from this is how hungry people are for social physical connections in the real world. And when you have something to rally around, like a book, some work, some common denominator, people turn out because they just really, really, really want that social connection. So we learned this about books; obviously books are physical products and live in the tangible world, and so that helps. But the real message for us was, I mean we went on tour with Flickr. Flickr became one of our largest business partners. And I toured with them all over the world; I mean, Berlin, Milan, I mean fabulous places, and everywhere, for Flickr, people turned out physically in droves. And so I took away something very important from that, which is it’s a community. It really is a community of people who share a common passion, and at the end of the day it is all about that passion, and there’s nothing like meeting people in person to really turbo charge those connections. Now when I travel or any of them managers here at Blurb travel we try to send out word that “Hey, I’d like to meet up with 10 or 12 people in the city, wherever we’re going to be. Lets go have dinner.” And the amplification effect of that is unbelievable.

Susan Bratton: Nice. And you’re a big blogger on your site too. You do a lot of blog posts, don’t you?

Eileen Gittens: I do. And I also am blogging now for Huf Po, for Hiffington Post…

Susan Bratton: Right, I saw that. Yeah.

Eileen Gittens: Yeah. So that’s scary, ‘cause you, well you better sound smart there. Not that you don’t want to sound smart on your own site, but it’s like “Oh lord.” 

Susan Bratton: The pressure’s on.

Eileen Gittens: Oh my god. 

Susan Bratton: I don’t think you have any problem with that. So last question, and thank you so much for everything you’ve done so far on the show. If we – myself, one of my listeners, all of my listeners – could do one thing to help vault Blurb to the next level of success, what would you like us to do for you? Is there anything.

Eileen Gittens: Yes, there is. I’d like every single one of you to make a book. 

Susan Bratton: I knew you were going to say that.

Eileen Gittens: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: Two of you free, the rest of you come and pay.

Eileen Gittens: Yeah. Every single one, make a book because the rest will happen. ‘Cause I, if history is our guide, the joy, the experience of receiving that first book that you authored, that you made with your name on the cover, is a transformational experience, and when that happens people just naturally want to talk about it. 

Susan Bratton: Well I’ll tell you that they are… And we will do that, we’re all going to do that for you. And I love giving away photo books to my elderly family members. They love that more than anything. They love the pictures. For me, like you, we’re both photographers. I love to make meaning in my life through the photos of the experiences that I’ve had. And I see my father-in-laws face light up when, I know that when he gets that book in the mail that I’ve sent he spends the whole afternoon just pouring over it, you know.

Eileen Gittens: I’ll share one very brief tidbit with you. The second or third book I made after I started the company was a family book, and I went over to my dad’s house and raided his photography drawers and scanned slides and, you know, made this book. Sent it off to – I’m one of four siblings – sent it to the siblings, sent it off to my dad. Of course they all think, you know, I should win the Pulitzer Prize, right, because this is so fabulous. Well ratchet forward, you know, three or four years and sadly my father has early stage Alzheimer’s now…

Susan Bratton: I’m sorry.

Eileen Gittens: Yeah. It is.

Susan Bratton: It’s awful.

Eileen Gittens: In effect some days are better than others. But here’s the lemonade out of the lemons. That book that I made three years ago, yeah, I bring that with me now when I go to see him because there are days when his long-term memory is all there. And he took all those pictures….

Susan Bratton: Mmm.

Eileen Gittens: So he remembers that. And for any of your listeners who are suffering with a family member where it’s almost impossible to have a conversation because they cannot remember what you said two minutes ago, if you make a book that has some family memories in them for them, you can have a fresh conversation every single time you go to visit because many times they won’t remember that they’ve previously seen the book.

Susan Bratton: That is a great idea. And have you heard of Scan Café?

Eileen Gittens: Yes.

Susan Bratton: Okay. So I found out about them on NPR. I donated, got that thing, and I’ve been going through bins of old photos and stuffing them into my Scan Café box to send them off to them so they can scan all that stuff in.

Eileen Gittens: Exactly.

Susan Bratton: Yeah. That’s a great service. Have you used that?

Eileen Gittens: Yes. In fact, the CEO of Scan Café’s coming over to see us I think later this week.

Susan Bratton: Yeah. That’s a match made in heaven with you two.

Eileen Gittens: Yeah. Yeah, I met up with them at, somewhere else recently and we said “Oh god, we should, we should get together.”

Susan Bratton: Yeah. Yeah, you should do a Biz Dev deal with them.

Eileen Gittens: Yeah.

Susan Bratton: Perfect. I love it. Well Eileen, you have a great company. I’m glad you kissed all those frogs and found your princes who could launch this great idea. We’re all going to go get a book, except for two people who are going to get one for free when they go to DishyMix Fan and post their desire. Its been great to meet you in real life and on DishyMix. Thank you so much for coming on the show today.

Eileen Gittens: My pleasure, truly.

Susan Bratton: All right, I’m your host, Susan Bratton. I hope you’ll got make your Blurb book and have a great day. Bye-bye.