SoFoBoMo – Blurb output


At the moment, I am planning to use Blurb, the Print on Demand (POD) self-publishing book company, as my book out put for my 2008 SoFoBoMo project. And I just read Gordon McGregor’s recent Blurb trial run experiment that I think is going to help me be successful: think Color Management.


Like Gordon, I have not heard good things about LuLu POD, but the reviews for Blurb have been mixed. I had recently talked with Miguel Garcia-Guzman about his experience and it was kind of encouraging, and perhaps the color management points that Gordon makes might have made a difference for Miguel.

But I did have a chance to look at a bed-load of Blurb books at the Palm Springs Photo Festival, also realizing that they were going to put out their best work. The soft cover perfect-bound books were about what I anticipated, printing okay but the glued binding left you wondering about the longevity of the book. The hard cover books looked like that they had really substantial glued and sewn binding with nice printed dust covers. They got my attention as a strong potential.

My book image layout question for Blurb was resolved yesterday afternoon. The first time that I started to layout my images in the Blurb Booksmart software, I did not like the format option for my photographs. The page had a fixed ‘cutout’ that you loaded your image into and then could move it around for the final presentation and seemed like you had to live with the fixed ‘cropping’ of that template.

In Palm Springs, the Blurb rep gave me some pointers and what were some other template and picture bucket (container) options that I had not recognized. These options were in a pull down menu in the upper left corner of the page layout. Essentially you can choose a wide variety of templates including a full page container which can give you a full bleed of the image off the page, depending on you image size. The actual image layouts are indicated by a gray area on the page. A lot more options than I first thought. hmmm, very interesting and I think that Blurb has overcome my initial concerns.

So I am going to do a test run also with Blurb this month to get some experience before the start of May. I have my book dummy of my series Bad Trip – Sad Trip (In Passing), so I have a layout, Introduction to work with, now fine tune the color management issues and proper sizing and I just might have this book out by the end of this month.

Which takes me to another quandry, the whole ‘photography art’ press thing. I have yet to see a Blurb book get a book review in any photography magazine, unless they are writing an article about the Blurb POD process. Also, is this a matter I really care about? Since I am writing about this aspect, I must care or I would just ignore the whole thing, eh?

The large hardcover Blurb books do look good. But for the ‘photo-art’ market, and the option of a limited edition book with accomping loose signed print, Blurb does not have a slip cover available.  A slip cover will probably need to be customized due to the thickness of the book related to the number of pages. Thus the idea of producing a limited number of the Blurb books with a slip cover to hold a loose, signed print still needs to be developed. The idea of limiting the amount of Blurb books is easy, when a certain amount has sold, pull the book off the Blurb listings or if self-selling, limit how many books to be printed.

So at least I have an idea of my book output, the Blurb large horizontal hardbound book. The final details to be worked out over the next month and a half. Anyone know where I can get some nice book slip covers (custom?) made??  I am considering making a small Limited Edition run of my book to be sold with a signed, loose Edition print.

And hopefully I will have at least one Singular Image that will be the key photograph from this series and book!

Best regards, Doug

Updates: Per Gordon’s suggestion, I did download the current Blurb Booksmart software (three days after I downloaded the first version, what a difference a day makes!), and I just joined the Blurb B3 program (Blurb Business to Business), that includes their color management ICC profiles for their ‘premium’ printing option, which they describe as follows:

B3 Custom Workflow is a color managed process designed for creative professionals using books as part of their business. Or, more simply put, it’s an easy way for pros to get truer contrast, more accurate color, more neutral black and whites, and printing consistency across book orders.  B3 Members can select the Custom Workflow option and pay a premium to print their books with professional-level color control and printing consistency.  Standard Workflow is a streamlined bookmaking process that enables anyone to produce bookstore-quality books. It meets most customers’ needs without requiring extra technical steps such as monitor calibration, soft proofing, and image adjustment.

 Whats not to like about this B3 process, other than the increased cost? (Sorry, I don’t know the cost difference yet) Also, I had an opportunity to become a B3 charter member as a result of attending the Palm Springs Photo Festival and spending a lot of time at the Blurb booth. nice.

10 thoughts on “SoFoBoMo – Blurb output

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  1. also worth noting in case you might have missed it that blurb just released a new version of the booksmart software.

    My plan is to do full bleed layouts and bypass the blurb software almost completely (I’ll just dump the pages into full bleed pages) and do the layout in Adobe InDesign.

  2. Paul, there are a couple of ‘picture layouts’ that look like they might work that way, but without experiementing, I am not sure. The Blurb software is a FREE download, you just have join, which is also FREE. So check it out,

  3. Gordon, thanks for the great link to ‘the little book that could’. It has me thinking that this is possible. But then like Hetherington, who to be my ‘exclusive’ stocklister??

  4. A gold mine of information here. I hope more keeps rolling in. Probably about a year ago, I experimented composing pages in Photoshop and then dropping those full pages on a Blurb page, thus ignoring their layouts. I was simply experimenting with possibilities and never printed, but that method seemed to work just fine. I recently discovered that Mark Hobson advises use of Photoshop for layout and likes the results he gets. So far, I am thinking that Blurb looks fairly flexible. I saw my e-mail notice about the upgrade, but haven’t gotten to that yet.

  5. The main company I use is Creative Memories for my photobooks since the quality is superb and the pages are sewn, not glued to the spine. The Storybook Creator software is easy and scrapbook papers and elements are beautiful. I haven’t seen that in any other company. Most of the companies are within a few dollars of CM, except for Blurb and Viovio (still waiting for the Viovio album to arrive.)

    I just made a book with Blurb. I wanted to try a small softcover project to test their quality before I put tons of hours into something. I must say I was soooooooo disappointed! I chose to not make my pages in Photoshop, but do them directly in their program to see the “virgin” quality. My images are from a 10MP DSLR with each photo being about 2-3 MB each, so the input quality was fine. Their output was dark, grainy, oversaturated photos. I was floored. I’ve heard such glowing reviews that I couldn’t believe it. I contacted Blurb and they offered to remake the book for me, indicating that they can only keep prices so low by not recalibrating the printer after each book. They figured mine was one of the 3% of books that were toward the end of the run. So, they sent me another book and it was the same. What a disappointment.

    I have a full Excel spreadsheet comparing companies if anyone wants.

    I’ve made 3 gift books from MyPublisher (I got 2 for free–good promo!) where I inserted my Creative Memories Storybook Creator layouts into full bleed pages and they came out beautifully. Since they are in my state, I received them 2 days after placing the order. That was nice!

    So, now I guess I wait to see how the VioVio book comes out for a less expensive alternative for gifts and such. Has anyone on this thread received any books yet from them?

  6. Denise, I did notice a slight difference between the softcover and hardcover samples at the Blurb booth at the Palm Springs Photo Festival. But the overall quality appeared great, so I proceeded my Blurb project. My softcover proof will be at my front door by the end of the week (5/10/08). So I shall see how it looks. I am part of the Blurb B3 group, but I did not use their calibrated printer for this proof.

  7. Update on Blurb and VioVio

    Just received viovio photobook-softcover-20 pages. The cover is glossy and beautiful. BUT 2 small white spots and obvious posterization on one of the faces. Interior pages are not impressive. Lots of posterization making the faces look kind of dirty. Also some yellowish tinge on the faces on a page with a pale yellow background. Ugh. Side by side comparison with the MyPublisher book (same images) and the color is much better with MyPublisher.

    Blurb is raising their prices tomorrow. This is the new rate table

    Looks like you get what you pay for. (not considering iPhoto–I’m on a pc) I guess I’m sticking with Creative Memories for quality and ease since they are priced similarly to all the well known companies.

    Hope this helps someone!

    @Doug–please let us know when you get it!

  8. I received the Blurb price increase email yesterday, which does not make me a happy camper.

    Thanks for your evaluation and feedback on your VioVio book, good to know for future considerations and to avoid that option for a while. And yes, this does help someone: ME!

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