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The Way to Create Your Own Legacy

November 27, 1998|SUSAN CARPENTER

Children can live entire lifetimes with their parents and still only know a few select stories about them. Legacy Books--a Vacaville, Calif., company that produces one-of-a-kind, first-edition hard-bound books about ordinary people--hopes to change that.

"You don't need to be a celebrity to have a biography," company co-founder Susan Rupe says.

A medical transcriptionist by trade, Rupe, 48, first came up with the idea while transcribing a four-hour interview for a college student who'd been assigned to do a biography on his 70-year-old grandmother.

"I thought, 'What a fascinating woman!' and suggested he write a book about her, but he just wanted to pass the class," Rupe says.

The idea wouldn't leave her, and when she mentioned it to her daughter-in-law, Berni Houk, three years ago, the two went into business together.

Legacy Books' clients range from couples celebrating their wedding anniversaries to newlyweds chronicling the progression of their lives together and families remembering vacations.

"The whole idea of people putting together a legacy that allows them to pass it on from generation to generation has become very important over the last few years," Rupe says. "If you put a scrapbook together, someone has to [verbally] narrate the photos. What we're creating is a computer-generated life story."

The subject of the biography is involved with the book through every step of the process. After completing a questionnaire, he or she then participates in a six-hour interview and provides photos and other documents to be incorporated into the final product. When a transcript is ready, Rupe and Houk meet with the subject to discuss chronology and tone of the book, as well as paper stock, fonts, cover material and a title.

Legacy Books start at $450 and take a minimum of eight weeks to produce. Call (707) 453-1600 for more information.

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