Santa Clara , CA (December 8, 2005) — A California family has penned the world’s longest ever Christmas newsletter, and the first known example to take the form of a printed and bound, full-color book.
Doug and Diane Hughes of Santa Clara, California are sending copies of the 142-page volume, entitled “Hughes News,” to a mailing list of over 100 family and friends.
The newsletter contains all the Hughes family news fit to print – and then some. “I was aiming for about 100 pages,” says Doug, 56, the letter’s author. “But there was more material than I thought.”
The Hugheses have a tradition of producing what, even before this year, were longer-than-average Christmas newsletters. They have been sending out a hand-assembled, 16-page miniature magazine-style newsletter, under the “Hughes News” masthead, each Christmas for the last 20 years.
They were able to produce this year’s still longer letter as a perfect-bound, 6” x 9” book thanks to the latest advances in print-on-demand publishing. The result is even available for sale, on Lulu.com (www.lulu.com/HughesNews), the web site used to produce it. The printed edition costs $29.99, while an electronic version can be downloaded free.
“This is a landmark in the history of Christmas newsletters,” says Bob Young, CEO of Lulu (www.lulu.com), which lets anyone publish and sell their own book at no up-front cost. “It must also be a world record – and one likely to stand for years to come.”
Doug decided to expand it this year as a way of marking both the 20th anniversary of the newsletter itself and the 25th anniversary of his marriage to Diane, 48.
Another reason for turning this year’s newsletter into a book, says Doug, is simply because he can. “Technology has advanced so much since we started. The newsletter used to be just black-and-white but now you can do it full-color and even print it as a book.”
Doug, who works– fittingly – in Communications, for Lockheed Martin. knows that some people will view his book as over-the-top. But he is “on a mission” to change the image of Christmas newsletters, often maligned by columnists such as the late Ann Landers.
Yes, confesses Doug, you worry when you’re doing a newsletter that you’re bragging too much. “But I want to show that newsletters don’t have to be boring, if you spice them with creative content and self-effacing humor.”
The front half of the book describes the events of 2005 for Doug, Diane, and their three children, Kevin, Karin, and Kaitlin, now 23, 21 and 17 respectively.
Readers learn, for example, that Kaitlin won a leading role in her high school’s production of “Singin' in the Rain,” while her brother Kevin has graduated from college and is now engaged to girlfriend Megan. This sort of news would not be out-of-place in any holiday newsletter. But the 2005 Hughes News is to the usual Christmas newsletter as “War & Peace” is to “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.”
Thus, it also contains:
– A retrospective of the previous 24 years of Doug and Diane’s marriage, with a two-page spread on each year.
– The complete archive of Doug's signature Christmas carol parodies.
– Holiday stories, poems, and humorous quotations, both old and new.
Although Doug is the driving force behind the newsletter, the rest of the family loves the result. “There were a couple of years, in the early 90s, when I was thinking of giving it up as too much trouble. But my wife and children objected. They loved re-reading them each year, as a way of remembering what we’d done when they were younger.”
“Our mailing list has been as long as 150 in the past,” says Doug. “But I worry that our casual or recent acquaintances could think a 142-page book of family news a bit presumptuous. That’s why I tried to fill it with interesting photographs, cute quotations, heart-warming stories, and funny songs that even total strangers could find entertaining.”
So, what will the Hugheses do next Christmas to top this year’s newsletter? “I don’t know,” says Doug. “Maybe we’ll have to make a video.”
ABOUT LULU (www.lulu.com): Lulu, the world’s fastest growing source of print-on-demand books, enables authors and other creators to publish their own books, eBooks, calendars, images, music, short films and now Christmas newsletters at no advance cost. It was founded by Bob Young, co-founder of Red Hat, the open source software company.