How much does FromABirdie cost?
There is also a free basic, online-only version. We started it as a birthday present / art project, and we have made sure that it retains that spirit as the service grows into a larger business. (We believe that these albums of letters are a great and rare way to express genuine care and affection for someone, and we feel privileged to be able to make a little contribution towards a better world..)
PS: There are cases when there's not enough time to have a book printed and shipped. You can download a PDF version of the letters to print them yourself, for $10.
How much does it cost to ship the books?
The cost of domestic shipping (via UPS Ground) is included in our prices. For international shipping, please contact us.
How many albums can I create?
As many as you want.
How many people can contribute to an album?
There are no limitations. For the 2012 campaign, Obama´s collaborators created an album with more than 800 letters (for which we made a 14-pound custom artisan book). Our book prices hold for books with up-to 300 pages (which is a lot!).
Can I also attach images to the letters?
Yes you can. Any contributor can add as much text and as many pictures as they want. The limit is only their imagination.
How much time do I need to create an album?
We recommend starting the album 60 days before the delivery date. The first month will give you enough time to collect all the letters, and then we need 21 days to print and ship the books to you. That said, we have had very successful books created within a 5-week period.
How long do you keep the album online?
We keep albums online for 30 days after the delivery date. After that, we send a reminder to the receiver to let them know that the album will be taken offline, and giving them the option to turn it into a book (or keep it online forever).
Can I customize my album?
Yes, FromABirdie encourages you to customize the album. You may:
- Set and change the delivery date for the album
- Write introductory and thank you notes for the people you have invited to collaborate in the album.
- Add introductory and closing remarks that are shown to the recipient before and after they read the letters
- Choose and add pictures for the covers
- Control the order of the letters in the album
In what order are the letters printed? Can I change that?
By default the letters are sorted by date of arrival. Yes, you may re-order them any way you want.
How are letters and pictures laid out on the book? Can I change that?
Designing the book for printing is an interative process that involves both a human and a computer algorithm. The algorithm lays out the letters and pictures on the printed page, following a set of rules, and the human revises and checks the quality (e.g. making sure that the layout is consistent across letters, that paragraphs stay together on a page, that a letter doesn't overflow to the next page unnecessarily, that the images are cropped and rotated as needed, etc). The process repeats itself until all issues are ironed out.
These are the rules that the algorithm follows:
- Each letter goes on its own page (extending to more pages if they are longer)
- The first page each letter has the name of the writer (and optionally a location where they wrote from)
- There is a default font-size for each letter, but it may be increased if the text is too short
- Each picture goes on its own page (they may include a caption)
You can see some pictures below with sample letters and pictures (click to enlarge)
Can I put a picture on the cover of the book?
Yes, and you can also specify the title for the book. Here are some examples with and without pictures:
How private are the letters and albums?
From what we have observed, users of FromABirdie tend to write thoughtful, careful, and personal letters, which makes them very private. We ensure that only the intended recipient will have access to them (e.g. by password-protecting the album). People who contribute to the album are NOT able to see each other's letters, although at the end of the process we do share the names of those who wrote with everyone (to enhance the communal experience that these albums are).
Once a phyisical book is printed we can no longer protect the privacy of the letters, of course. There are also (many) cases in which the book is shipped to the organizer of the book, so they can give it as a present at a party or ceremony. We ask them to respect the writers' privacy, but again have no control over it.
Finally, there are cases in which the creator of the album needs complete editorial control (e.g. when the book is for a retirement of an "important" person). In that case we do let them see all the letters, but writers are advised beforehand that that's the case . We have never had a single issue or complaint with that.
What kind of private information does FromABirdie ask for?
We do ask for private information with the letters, but only to make the service richer. For example,
- We ask for the name and email of the person who creates an album so we can communicate with them over email.
- We ask for the name and email of the recipient of the letters so that we can send an email on the specified day and announce the surprise (this feature may be turned off)
- We allow the people who write letters in an album to leave their name, email, and location so the recipient can see who wrote, and can easily get back in touch with them.
Will you sell that information to third parties, or use it for spamming?
Absolutely not. We DO NOT (and NEVER WILL) sell or otherwise share any of the information that we gather – names and emails of recipients and letter writers, aggregate statistics, or anything of that sort. We are trying to offer a useful service and grow an honest business, and we see those values as non-negotiable.