Books: Luxury, Heirloom, Specialist

All books deserve careful treatment, but some need more than others. Colour printing and complex layouts demand special attention. Here is an example of one such project, complete with testimonial. If your book has unusual requirements (e.g. very large format, lots of images, luxury paper), please get in touch for a tailored quote.

The Ffrench Connection: remembering a unique family

ffrench small

In 2014 I worked on Keith and Nancy Atkinson’s privately printed memoir, The Ffrench Connection. It was a complex but rewarding project. Nancy’s distinguished ancestors included the multi-talented military man Ernest G Ffrench, nineteenth-century painter and US traveller Solomon Nunes Carvalho, and a distant link with a certain Mary Seacole. Keith and Nancy had spent years researching Nancy’s family history, and presented me with a beautifully written Word document packed with scanned photos, news archive cuttings, census entries and old letters.

My job was to source a printer and oversee the creation of a full-colour book suitable for a family heirloom. CreateSpace was unsuitable for two reasons: the paper quality, and the pricing structure which automatically charged colour printing prices for every page in the book. I located a local printing firm which used higher-quality paper and tailored their prices to the number of book pages which actually contained colour images. In our case, this equated to a quarter of the book; you can imagine the price difference.

After much discussion of size and format, the book ended up as a 368-page A4 paperback. I created a wraparound cover from a historical map of Jamaica, complete with authentic crease marks and sepia toning. Keith selected a quote for the back cover. Most of the text was set in the elegant vintage font Perpetua, with a contrasting romantic font for the book title and section headings. I was restrained in my design and layout choices because the material spoke for itself – as does Keith’s testimonial.

I met Lia at a Society of Genealogists talk on self-publishing. I was rather daunted by what had to be done to produce a professional looking book cost-effectively & asked her if she could assist me in producing a family history for my wife Nancy. My “draft” consisted of 500 pages packed with writing, colour images & photographs assembled piecemeal over 5 years. I did not want to market the book but just to distribute it to family members and friends.

Lia gave me a price indication to edit, proof-read and design the book. She selected an appropriate font & page size, and over the course of several weeks, forwarded the result to me chapter by chapter for me to approve. She was very patient with my foibles and together we produced a manuscript for submission to printers.

She designed a stylish cover for it and researched the most appropriate & cost-effective printer.

We were overjoyed with the result which now has pride of place in our & our family & friends’ bookcases! The general reaction to the elegance of the book was “Wow!”

I have no hesitation in recommending Lia to anyone contemplating a similar project.


Keith (& Nancy) Atkinson (address removed) Teddington, Greater London, UK


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