BookSmart

Locked Does Blurb use a Halftone or Continuous Tone printing process?

I am about to sumit a book of images so that I can test the quality of Blurb books. In order for me to pepare my images for output, it would be helpful to understand the printing process used because I use a 3 part sharpening workflow that is specific to the output method.

1. Does Blurb use a continuous tone printer and if so… what is the native resolution of the printing process?

2. Does Blurb use a halftone printing process and if so… are you printing to coated or uncoated paper and what LPI do you print at?

3. Is the printing process an injkjet process and if so… what type of paper stock (matte, glossy, fine glossy &c) do you use and what output resolution do you print at?

Thank you for any assistance you can give me with this matter.

Posted by
jayemcee
Aug 3, 2007 9:03am PDT
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jayemcee
 

For our book pages Blurb printers use two presses, both "digital offset" and not continuous tone.  If you are making a hardcover book 8×10 or larger your book pages will be printed on an HP5000 Indigo digital press on coated paper at 175lpi.  For 7×7 and softcover books your books will be printed on a Xerox iGen3 Digital Production Press at 175lpi also on coated paper.

The only products printed on inkjet printers are some of our dust jackets and those are polyester overlaminated.  Some dustjackets are printed on Xeikon using an electrophotographic process also with a polyester overlaminate.  If you let me know where you live I can tell you exacty what process is used in your territory.

My strong suggestion is to print some sample books to make final tweaks to your workflow.

 

Happy bookifying!

Best,

—bw

Posted by
bruce
Aug 3, 2007 11:38am PDT
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bruce Icon_staff
 

Jayemcee

I am using the same sharpening program as you and

still can not figure out which output sharpener to use

to print these books.

I asked the same question at MPIX and did not get a clear

idea there either

Planning

Posted by
planning
Aug 3, 2007 8:10pm PDT
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planning
 

Thanks Bruce, that has cleared up this particular issue for me.

Further Questions Bruce:

1. I am in the UK so will the printing be automatically uploaded to a European site?
2. Do I need to set my sharpener for 175LPI <code> 262.5ppi or 175 LPI </code> 350ppi? (both coated)
3. Are both printers using CMYK process inks or are they emulating the CMYKOV inkset?
4. Once the printing process in my location is established, can I have the relevant ICC profile?
5. sRGB is the smallest colour gamut bar none. I process my photos in the ProPhotoRGB colour space. Apart from files sizes, I see no advantage to submitting sRGB jpeg files and I am concerned for a loss of fine detail in my images. Can you make any suggestions as to how I can tweak my workflow to preserve the maximum amount of detail in my images?

Thank you for your assistance, Bruce.

Jayemcee

Posted by
jayemcee
Aug 3, 2007 10:07pm PDT
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jayemcee
 

A further question for you, Bruce, When reduced to 8bit, sRGB and softproofed for a CMYK process, my black backgrounds (R0 G0 B0) are altered and the process colour translation from the tiny sRGB gamut is horrible and plays merry heck with my own colours.

The featureless black background, which I deliberately chosen for my images is still featureless but it appears to have more green and blue in it. A digital colour meter readout shows the following values for RGB

R 2.7%
G 3.5%
B 3.1%

How can I ensure that I am going to get a pure black background, given that I cannot specify any shade of black darker than 0?

Jayemcee

Posted by
jayemcee
Aug 3, 2007 10:59pm PDT
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jayemcee
 

Hi Jayemcee. First off please note an earlier post that Blurb does not support a color managed workflow for the reasons stated.  Because of that all of the answers here should be tempered with the fact that the only way to see how your images are going to reproduce using BookSmart and our global print network is by doing systematic testing on your side.  That’s what has been successful for our power users to date and it’s what I recommend to you.

#1 You orders will be automatically routed to our EU print facility if you are shipping to the UK.

#2 While I think your expectations of how granular of changes you can make that will have an influence on the final printed product on Indigo or iGen are questionable, I would stick with the lpi ratings I posted earlier. 

#3 indigo and iGen are both CMYK printers, Indigo via 4-color electroink and iGen via 4-color dry ink process.

#4 Blurb does not support a color managed workflow and, as such, does not provide ICC profiles.  The output profile for the HP5000 Indigo semi-matte profile is available here

#5 You don’t have to convert your images to sRGB.  The reason we recommend that is that this RGB space is much closer to CMYK than one of the wider gamut RGB spaces available.  The idea is to give you a better preview of how the CMYK presses will print your images.

#6 As to the rest of your questions, I strongly recommend full print tests and process tweaking for the best result.  Please note, however, that there are natural variations on digital printing presses throughout the day, sometimes even within a single run,  Trying to get too precise may prove to be an effort in futility but we have thousands of satisfied customers everyday that love our process for making books.

 Ciao,

—bw 

Posted by
bruce
Aug 4, 2007 8:23am PDT
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bruce Icon_staff
 

Bruce, thank you for your time. I have read the post you have linked to and I understand what you are saying. Clearly, I am mistaken in wanting to use your printing service… and having the expectation that the results I will get are going to be predictable.

Without having seen the work that Blurb is capable of producing, I can only do what I understand in order to help eliminate all of the operator error issues that result in poor print output. The changes that I may make to my own image files are directly related to the output quality.

The sharpening applied to my image files is directly related to the print process and that is precisely how the software was designed to operate and the reason why i paid for it. Are you telling me that because all image files are treated by Blurb in exactly the same way, that there is not much point in me trying to adjust them for output quality?

The lpi values are only a part of the story, if I do not know which is the closest value to the image ppi, in terms of my sharpening workflow. As I have never used your service before (and potentially, I would produce a lot of books) I naturally want to produce the very best example book that I can… that way I can make the decisions about whether the quality is acceptable, attainable and reproducible and then I can then decide on what workflow shortcuts I can take whilst maintaining a quality standard that I would not want to fall below.

When it comes to image quality, it is not possible, in my view, to get too precise. I do the best I can to create the image, then I process that image with a specific size and output process in mind. Without a clear understanding of the process at the output stage, I am blind when it comes to processing my work for its best quality.

I am not looking for 1 micron precision here and I can appreciate that there will be variation in print-on-demand services, because I assume that the presses are running continuously. I am looking for several reliable parameters so that I can plug my images into the services that Blurb provide and have a reasonable expectations of the quality of your product.

I don’t feel that I am asking way too much here because blurb does not offer its services for free. The books are a paid for service and I assume that Blurb pitches its prices at profitable points. Like any customer the world over, I want to know what I am buying and then I want to be sure that I get what I have paid for. (in this context… a book of mediocre print quality will not satisfy me)

Bruce, If you cannot tell me the definitive way to guarantee good output while using Blurb’s book printing serves, then I must admit to feeling that paying for anything from Blurb would leave me feeling I had made a huge mistake. You may well have thousands of satisfied customers every day. Don’t you have any dissatisfied customers? ‘Suck it and see’ is the wrong approach to print output, in my opinion.

I can assemble a book of ‘test images’ and try to establish if any of my techniques has an effect on output. without knowing anything about the machine that will print my work or if my work is going to be printed on a different type or manufacture of machine every time I submit my work, then I may as well be trying to run at 100mph. As your response appears to be a standard Blurb response to anyone trying to get the best from the service offered, I can only conclude that Blurb does not want or need my business.

Tell me it isn’t so…

Kind regards,
Jayemcee

Posted by
jayemcee
Aug 4, 2007 9:41am PDT
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jayemcee
 

Hi Jayemcee, I think you are pushing this a little to far to the extreme here.  I’ve given you quite a bit of information about the presses and processes we use.  Sharpening on your side will not be negated by Blurb but the only true way to see the effect of it is by trying various options on your side and do a systematic test.  While settings are a good starting point, I’m sure you will find with almost all printers that the proof is in the pudding when the ink gets to paper.

There are indeed providers in the marketplace that can manage the type of process you are requesting…at a price of likely 3 times our rate for the service.  We do need to have a more generalized approach to the printing business to keep our prices accessable to the general public. And, like I said above, lots of professionals and advanced users have Blurb books as part of their repertoire with great results.

I’m going to step out of this string now and let the other users on the Forum give you some cases in point that may help your preparation process. 

Best,

 —bw

Posted by
bruce
Aug 4, 2007 12:07pm PDT
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bruce Icon_staff
 

 

I would not call a point by point response to each of your questions a "standard Blurb response."  I understand your concern— you are apparently using Nik or something like it.   So do a test.   You could tile the same image on scores of pages for very little cost (I wish I could pay in your currency!) and then be satisfied that you knew what to expect.

Blurb is a revolutionary service.  If we were outputing with the finest quadtone shop in the world, we would still expect to do a preliminary run that needed to be modified to our liking.  $35 (or less) to test your images sounds pretty good.  To paraphrase Bruce, the "proof" is in the proof.

I assure you, my standards are high.   For the price, my color Blurb books (and the service) have been outstanding; in part because I made some tests to get to where I wanted to be.

 

Posted by
Kiddawg
Aug 4, 2007 9:34pm PDT
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Kiddawg
 

Thank you for your comments Kiddawg.

The sort of information I have asked for is not wildly esoteric and I would have expected it to be very easy to find (please understand that I have never used the blurb service previously and would be buying my book of test images, sight unseen) and adaptable to many the different needs and workflows of the Blurb service buying public.

I have high standards of work presentation and I take as much time and trouble as it takes to do the best job I can. Tiling an image on ‘scores of pages’ at various resolutions, colour space conversions, output sharpening settings is obviously the way to go to ensure consistent results.

If the machine that does the printing is different on each occasion and everything is converted to the sRGB colour space (RGB values are only available as a trans-illuminated colours on a computer display) then reduced further to the smaller gamut of CMYK process colours (and those pigments are only available for printed material) then my concern for my finer image detail is entirely appropriate.

Asking the people (who both offer and provide the actual service) to deal with a few minor technical questions so that I can avoid wasting time and effort in producing ‘scores of pages’ of test material, appeared to be a worthwhile pursuit. The money is not the question and be it$35 or $3500, I would not care. I will pay whatever I need to in order to get the job I want. I will not be sitting in front of a computer screen for endless hours, creating test images that are irrelevant to my workflow just because I have insufficient information about the actual processes which are used by Blurb.

All of the commercial print houses, to whom I have provided work, will answer a few simple pre-production questions. I then know where to expect the boundaries of their process performance to occur and I can construct my test files to fall within those boundaries. Your comment “so do a test” is as unhelpful as it is obvious. I know that I can run some tests and I am just asking where the ballpark is.

Posted by
jayemcee
Aug 5, 2007 1:34am PDT
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jayemcee
 

 

sRGB, 300dpi, softproofed with the profile Bruce provided.  The only tests you really need are for Nik, and I think it’s safe to say that the ballpark (output machine, paper, lpi) has been provided.  But honestly, and I truly mean this in the most helpful way, I think Blurb may not be the place for you.  Anyway, best of luck.

 

Posted by
Kiddawg
Aug 5, 2007 11:55am PDT
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Kiddawg
 

Thanks for your thoughts. The icc profile is a starting point if the HP Indigo is used. If the Xerox is used then the profile will not be accurate. I don’t use Nik, having incorporated Photokit Sharpener (by Pixel Genius) into my workflow; some 18,000 images previously.

I don’t see why Blurb may not be the place for me. I happen to want to print what I shoot and Blurb offers a printing service. I may be happy with it and asking pre-production questions should not rule me out as a possible client for those services. I spent 12 hours yesterday… shooting products for a client.

I will end up with several hundred carefully processed images, and the client has asked if they can be assembled into a book for his clients to view at his own premises. I don’t think his request is unusual; nor is it an impossible request. I had hoped to save him quite a lot of money by producing his product book at a reasonable cost to him.

Posted by
jayemcee
Aug 7, 2007 12:42am PDT
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jayemcee
 

jaycemcee—
as a professional photographer that has printed several blurb books, i agree with the other posts: you’d be better off somewhere else with your criticisms, because, honestly, i dont think you even understand the process that you are are critical of. try lulu and leave this forum to those who are conveying helpful ideas.

Posted by
chdant
Feb 8, 2008 11:06pm PDT
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chdant
 

chdant,

No need to be rude. Jaycemcee is only looking to ensure the very best quality of the end product and although the Blurb support person believes he has answered the question—he really did not. He could not or would not give an answer to the question—even in broad terms such as a range—what would be the appropriate settings for sharpening of images.

I believe that Jaycemcee understands the basic of the sharpening process and is just trying to process the images to get the best reproduction that he can. Since Blurb is unable to provide a spec for processing of the images it is somewhat frustrating.

Perhaps your interest in not in high quality and therefore you are simply have low expectations for quality.

-r

Posted by
rustoleum
Feb 10, 2008 9:28am PDT
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rustoleum
 

r,

Well, there are resources available, if conducted by search query through Google or other search engine on “how to” sharp the image, I can assure you that you get many leads on source on how to. It is NOT that difficult to do so.

While BookSmart is NOT an image editing application, it is a bookmaking application. It is not ideally for sharpening the image. That is to say, it is obvious that you need to use Photoshop CS3 or similar image editing application available for purchase from other companies.

Posted by
brianbonitz
Feb 10, 2008 11:31am PDT
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brianbonitz