General Interest

After four books...my verdict on Blurb...

Okay, I’ve been one of those ‘lurkers’ out there that has been using the software, but hasn’t posted my remarks about the software, print quality, etc.   So here goes…

I have completed four books so far this year (I anticipate two more!).  These have all been books in lieu of printing pictures and putting together photo albums of our vacations and are therefore photo intensive. 

Book 1 was my initial experiment and was 68 pages, containing approximately 240 pictures.  I didn’t make any adjustments to the pictures (I hadn’t come across the discussions regarding softproofing yet).  Since we took my mother-in-law along on this trip, I used this also as an opportunity to print both a softcover and a hardcover/dustcover book (this was before image wrap was available).

Book 2 was 80 pages, containing approximately 170 pictures.  I was more adventurous with this one – I had more full-page spreads, and I also tried a 2-page spread.  I printed this one as a hardcover/image wrap.

Book 3 was 143 pages, containing approximately 215 pictures.  This was a trip to New England, so I spent a lot more time ‘writing’ – I added a lot of text describing the history of what I captured in the photos.  This book was also printed as a hardcover/image wrap.

Book 4 was 120 pages, containing approximately 300 pictures. This book was also printed as a hardcover/image wrap.

Software:  I found the Booksmart software easy to use.  It has its quirks, but I found it easy enough to maneuver and get the effects I was looking for.  I did not have any problems with downloading the software, nor did I have any crashes while using the software.  I started in 1.9.2, and am currently using 1.9.5.  For Book 1 I only used the Booksmart layouts.  By Book 2 I was a bit more adventurous (thanks to all the Q&A in the forums) and experimented with some photoshop and Quark layouts.  I found these worked fine.  I did find that doing a layout in Quark seemed easier to do, but I had to save the file, pull it into photoshop, then export it.  By Book 4 I also found that the conversion between Quark and Photoshop seemed to lose some of the photo color depth, but after I did a color balance in photoshop, all was well again.  Based on my reading of the forums, I did save several layouts as png files since they had quite a bit of text.  Doing the layouts in quark/photoshop is a bit inconvenient, but I can understand that Blurb won’t be able to predict every layout that people will come up with.  I have added my voice in the forums requesting a ‘flexible’ layout option, where we could re-size and move the image and text boxes.

Paper quality:  I have been very pleased with the paper thickness.   I’m no expert – but it appears to be about 80# paper.  Some posts have stated that you can see the other side of the page through the paper – this may be true if you hold the paper up and light it from the other side.

Print quality:  I again have been very pleased with the print quality.  Even my first book (no softproofing) turned out just fine.  The colors are true and not too dark (unless I made the mistake of not correcting the exposure first!).  In general, I would choose a hardcover over the softcover, just because it seems to give the book a bit more substance.  I like the quality of the dustjacket, but I figure that over time it will tear, get lost, etc – so I’ve been using the imagewrap option, and have been very pleased.  Now, if we could order a dustjacket with the imagewrap – I’d be overjoyed!!

Speed of printing:  My first three books were printed in four days.  The last one was printed within two!! 

Speed of delivery:  Since these were vacation photos (and I still had to work on my vacation DVD!) I chose the UPS ground delivery.  I consistently received the book within four business days.

Final Verdict:  I am very pleased with the entire Blurb experience.  I would also like to thank all those Blurb users who respond to questions on the Forum – especially Lee and Tony – for taking the time to post thorough responses.  Each book turns out better than the last thanks to all the insights and information that is shared among the users.

Thank you all, and happy Blurbing!!!

Another satisfied Blurbarian,
Regi

Replytopic_b_normal
Posted by
rbgool
Aug 24, 2008 6:09pm PDT
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rbgool
 

Bonjour Regi,

Nice quality of your verdict and experience with your four Blurb Books.

Congratulations!

Cheers, Brian, a passionate Blurbarian

Posted by
brianbonitz
Aug 24, 2008 11:06pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Thanks for that post  Regi, it really helps build confidence when you hear of people’s successes. I think I’ll try the ImageWrap on my new book; I was having a few doubts, though the one’s that Eileen Gittens showed when she came to the UK earlier this year looked pretty good.

And you don’t just lurk! I’ve spotted you slipping in a bit of help to others here and there :-)

Well done!

.........Tony

Posted by
tfrankland
Aug 25, 2008 12:38am PDT
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tfrankland
 

Regi wrote: (unless I made the mistake of not correcting the exposure first!). 

Hello,

Could someone kindly explain what that means?

I have done 4 or 5 Blurb books. The first one, printed Spring 2007 was much stronger in clarity and brightness than the one I received yesterday (new book but taken with a better camera). Even pictures taken atop a boat in Mexico in daylight are very dark, grainy, redish, and don’t "pop" from the page like the earlier effort. My book looks so much better inside BookSmart and on the preview than the finished product! I am sadly going to abandon all my ongoing Blurb projects for the time being—one is quite time-sensitive as it’s for elderly relatives, but I don’t want to happily mail them something they can’t see

I’m so distressed!

Kathy 

Posted by
Mombo
Sep 6, 2008 9:33am PDT
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Mombo
 

Kathy-

What I meant by "unless I made the mistake of not correcting the exposure first" is that – as a hobbyist – my pictures aren’t always exposed properly.  They end up being too dark (or too light) – so I have to adjust the exposure through photoshop to correct this.  This is an issue with the original photograph, not with Blurb’s printing.  I discovered Blurb earlier this year, so I can’t speak to results from earlier versions.  As I mentioned in my original post – I’ve been happy with the results – even without softproofing. 

There has been much discussion on the forums regarding dark pictures.  I believe the comments usually indicate that ensuring you have a properly calibrated monitor – and not set too bright – and softproofing before loading to Blurb are the usual ways to try to prevent overly dark pictures.

Hope that helps,

Regi

Posted by
rbgool
Sep 7, 2008 5:53pm PDT
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rbgool