Flickr, Blurb, and Multiple Sclerosis

What do Flickr, Blurb, and multiple sclerosis have in common? How can the combination contribute to the fight against MS, and maybe change the face of publishing at the same time?

Several months ago I was contacted on Flickr by Sophie Addison, and asked to share my image Spirals in a book Sophie was creating titled It’s a Beautiful World. All proceeds were to support the MS cause.

It's a Beautiful World... - Photographers for a Cause - Blurb

The book is a bestseller on Blurb, and Sophie has repackaged it in a second edition.

It's a Beautiful World Cover

Obviously, this project financially benefits MS—to the tune Sophie informs me of between $10 and $20 per copy of the book sold.

It’s also clear that the book never would have been possible before POD (Publication on Demand). These books are produced as they are purchased. No one would ever have fronted the vast costs of producing a print run of thousands of these color books (as would have been required before POD). When she was putting together her book, Sophie did not have to worry about upfront production costs.

There’s also something that may presage the future of publishing in the use of Web 2.0 tools, the collaborative nature of the venture, and the mixed professional-amateur origin of the work in the book.

Besides the Blurb POD service, Sophie used Flickr groups and sets to organize photographers and the pages in her book. Contributors to the book ran the gamut from professional to enthusiastic amateur. Sophie used Flickr’s mail service to contact photographers and keep them posted about the project.

Sophie herself has no background in design, book publishing, or photo editing. She writes, “I started with a theme—our world—and went about finding captivating photos that would fit into that simple concept. It was a rather selfish process as I was able to choose whichever photos I liked best. Browsing through Flickr photostreams and discovering wonderful artists was a real pleasure.”

I asked Sophie to tell me a bit about herself, and she wrote back:

I’m a person living with MS. I’m a wife, a daughter, a friend, a volunteer and I’d like to do more to help fellow MSers educate themselves about this disease. I believe that within all of its tragedy, Multiple Sclerosis doesn’t have to be a hardship alone. It can also be a tool and a reason to be a better person.

Even though I have faced the emotional roller coaster that most people living with MS are familiar with, my relationship with the disease goes beyond my personal story. This diagnosis made me who I am today and although I would like to think that we do not need such hardship to learn from life, I wouldn’t change my past experience for anything in the world.

I believe in education and I’m a big fan of optimism. My hope for the future is that we will see treatments able to stop the progression of the disease as well as better life quality standards for those suffering from the progressive forms of MS.

Throughout the world, multiple sclerosis organizations are funding some of the most innovative research initiatives. But that’s not all they do! What people don’t always realize is that a significant part of the funds raised goes to provide support and services to people living with MS, their families and caregivers. Your money makes a difference TODAY.

Some related links:
It’s a Beautiful World (First Edition, Page layouts on Flickr)
It’s a Beautiful Word (First Edition, in the Blurb bookstore)
It’s a Beautiful World (Second Edition, Page layouts on Flickr)
It’s a Beautiful Word (Second Edition, in the Blurb bookstore)

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