BookSmart

Disappointed in print quality

Has something changed in the printing at Blurb? The last couple of books I have received, I have been quite disappointed in the quality of the printing. The images are looking more and more like they are printed on low quality inkjet printers—one of the reasons why I switched from the mac books. I would like to stay with Blurb, but at this point, my professional lab, albeit more expensve, gives me a much better quality image. While, for the most part, I have no problem with the colours, the image itself looks dotted and less than photo quality. I understand that different printers are used for the smaller Blurb books, but these are the 8×10 books.

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Posted by
coffenut
May 14, 2008 7:58am PDT
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coffenut
 

Posts like this always amaze me.  Of course a professional lab will give a better quality image.  It’s a completely different process.  Even Steidl or Taschen can’t print images the equal of a photographer working with a custom lab. Blurb’s books are printed on high volume, commercial, POD presses that represent "state of the art" for what they do.  And, I might add, represent a bargain for the price they charge.

Blurb books (and others like them) are a new and different medium for photographers, and those who use it most successfully will be the ones who realize this and learn to work within its  limitations and exploit its benefits.

As far as I can tell, Blurb has not changed their printers and if your books are in some way substandard based on the above criteria, contact them.  They seem eager to do right by their customers within the limitations of their process. 

Posted by
dagree
May 14, 2008 9:18am PDT
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dagree
 

Well .. I’m glad you’re amazed. Nice to do that to someone at least once a day.

I have used Blurb many times before and have always been happy with their product. However, the last couple of times I used them, I have been less than pleased. I am not expecting them to be the same as a professional lab … if I were, I would be using my lab. I asked the question because there seemed to be a change in the quality. If they are using differant printers, paper, or settings then it would be good to know that so adjustments can be made.

Posted by
coffenut
May 14, 2008 10:09am PDT
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coffenut
 

Hi coffenut,

Nope, no changes in materials lately.  

So long as your images are 300dpi and you aren’t looking at your page under a loop, there really shouldn’t be obvious dots or visible pixels…  Sounds like you might want to contact customer support by clicking here and filling out the form. 

Hope that helps!
Jeremy

Posted by
jbates
May 14, 2008 11:03am PDT
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jbates
 

Coffeenut,

I am sorry that you are disappointed with the outcome of your book. I am not sure what went wrong. I mean, you had mentioned that you had a couple of books published with Blurb, and the recent book turned out as not expected or met to your standard.

But there are possible factors, and only a thought or suggestion, though. Since you are familiar with Blurb book-making process by now. Are you sure that you have correct monitor being calibrated and IS in current state of calibrated monitor profile. Even matter of hours, days or weeks, the monitor profile change as monitor ages in time. What makes this more tricky, as professional photographers know and recognize that and itself presents lot of challenges – believe me. But it depends on how you do, how often you work under this specific situation – LIGHT in the room or depending on time of the day you work in the room. Desk lamp on your desk or natural light exposure from sunlight reflect through widow surely give some impact on your eyes looking into monitor.

Once the calibrated monitor device taken care of, if do this right and often, this will help address the whole process. It get you almost perfect the workflow process from the beginning to end of your book project.

As important as correct calibrated device set up in your computer/monitor, next important tool is soft proof. It is very important tool. It is not perfect, but this give you a better idea how the output (published book) should looks like.

If you didn’t download those files (soft proof – ICC profile of POD printer), this might be of an interest and a useful resource, here:

Bonasi Photography link
http://www.bonsai-photography.com/

Once you download those two files, the ICC print profile can only work in Adobe Photoshop or similar applications such as Adobe InDesign. I don’t know IF that works with any other third-party image editing application such as PSP or something like that.

Professional photographers or creative professional always find this routine a challenge. But it is part of the task that needs to be done OFTEN to make this right for each project. No matter how small or large project, these tools often save lot of time, money and effort.

Please note that if you soft proof with ICC print profile, it doesn’t mean it gets you perfect result. It only give you a better idea how your work (image or page whatever that might be) looks like. If you think it looks a little funny or need to make some change. That is what softproof are all about. Many participants would say it gets almost around 90 percent of that being achieved. It is rare for professional photographers to get this right as in 100 percent. Between 90 to 95 percent is my best guess.

Uhm, along with few essential tools including correct calibrated device, soft proof and all necessary editing in Photoshop (or any other third-party image editing application), and patience and extra effort is required, of course, I think the “test” or “proof” book is something that you want to consider. With test book, this give you a better idea how the test book looks like – first twenty (20) pages are highly recommended. If you like what you saw, you can continue on next stage of your project and finalize the final book project and order.

As it seems, you might say, “Wow, it is lot of work involved.” Yeah, I know. That is what the book-making process is all about. If you say, it is probably too fussy or demanding on my case, because I am. People have different opinion. It might be somebody’s hobby project. Or it might be somebody who happens to be a professional photographer or creative professional, this must be done with several steps to make this book project a success and worthwhile.

In closing, I surely welcome OTHER participants, perhaps David or Tony or others offer a better insight(s) or tips better than I do… or something I have failed to say something important.

In other words, I hope this be of help, assistance and some case, some remedies. I am pretty sure that Blurb team will be happy to help you, just what Jeremy says just now.

Posted by
brianbonitz
May 14, 2008 12:20pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

coffeenut,

I hope  you took Jeremy’s advice and filed a report with customer support. Your complaint seems a little strange in that you are satisfied with the colors but you can see the dot pattern (without a loop). I’ve had books printed by Blurb since last November that came from printers in the Springfield (MA), Seattle (WA) and Rochester (NY) areas. Except for very slight variations in hue shift and lightness the consistency has been amazing. On the other hand we could debate the "photo quality" of the reproductions in the books. None of mine are. They come close to good photo books I can find at Borders but if I wanted photo quality I’d have to pay a lot more or go for "tiped in" photos.

Posted by
lcarreira
May 15, 2008 5:16pm PDT
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lcarreira