A letter to Blurb's CEO and Board of Directors
The quality of your printing is exceptional. For the price, nobody does as good a job as you do. I stopped using other OD printers because Blurb.com had the best product available at the time and it came at a price I could afford.
That being said, I have to take issue with some of the decisions that are being made. They may seem like the right decisions from where you sit, but from where I sit (I’m a professional photographer, writer, designer) Blurb has made some very short-sighted decisions.
I’m not sure how to explain it, but it seems as though someone is coming up with ideas and stopping halfway, never reaching the idea’s full potential. You come up with something great, but the implementation has so many flaws and restrictions that it’s almost not worth messing with. I know there are many factors that affect these decisions (most of them financial, I’m sure), but providing an incomplete product is a very bad idea. Some examples…
Magazines? Great idea to offer magazines. They could be great portfolio pieces and would make excellent gifts to give to clients, but you either have to lay out your book in a completely different software app and create a PDF, or purchase a $700 Adobe application just to be able to make one. Not a viable option when time and money are at all time lows. You think YOU have financial concerns? Take a peek at your customers. Money is an issue for all of us and it’s not only insulting, it’s mean to offer such a cool product that the majority of us simply can’t purchase — not because we can’t afford to purchase the product itself, but because we can’t afford the third-party tools required to create said product.
ebooks? Again, a great idea, but your ebooks are only available on ipads. Your reps tell us that it’s because programming in two platforms is so expensive that you have to test the market to make sure it will support the investment. But that’s a copout. There is no reason to "test the waters" anymore. PC Tablets and Kindles outsell ipads today. A couple of years ago, phone companies and other software retailers would come out with the different platforms for their applications in stages, because the market was still blooming. But that’s not necessary anymore. Technology is moving so very fast now. There is no reason to wait. The money will come.
Calendars? Almost every single one of the companies that competes with Blurb offers calendars. Even if they have to outsource the calendars until they can get enough business in to provide the calendars in-house, they are still providing calendars. Blurb does not and has no plans to. A shortsighted move, to say the least. Any customer of Blurb who needs a calendar is going to take their business to the competition. And, once they are there, who is to stop them from ordering books from the competition? You are opening a door and sending your customers to the competition without any effort to keep them on board. Don’t give your customers a reason to leave.
Forums? Now you’re changing the format of the forums into the awkward, virtually useless "Yahoo Answers" style of forum. Bad idea. I’ve used that kind of forum and have found it to be far too limited for serious discussion. And that’s what forums are for — discussion. The "Answers"-style forum has short time limits, requires a mandatory "best answer" (even when there isn’t a best answer) and is awkward to navigate. As a matter of fact, the navigation and search capabilities are almost non-existent. It’s a lazy forum, to say the least.
Blurb has an opportunity to outpace Lulu.com, My Publisher.com, Cafe Press, and all the others simply by making smart decisions that will put Blurb ahead of its competition. Stay on top and make the others play catch-up. You have the ability, you have the right ideas. Keep coming up with those ideas, take those ideas to their logical conclusions and you will lead the pack. Nobody will be able to catch you. But, if you continue to cut those ideas off before they reach their potential, you are doomed to failure. And I, for one, don’t want to see you go.
II agree about the Forums. I’ve never gotten a helpful answer from Yahoo Answers. I just discovered tthe Forums are gone – terrible idea. I’ve been seriously considering doing my books elsewhere since the prices and postage have increased drastically. If the Forums are now gone I see no good reason to stay with Blurb once I finish my current book.