Book Printing

Very pleased with Blurb, and how you can be too

I finally finished my photography book  through Blurb.  You can see it here.

My experience with Blurb has been quite positive.  I’ve been reading through these forums for some time now, and there’s a dissproportionate number of negative comments over positive ones.  This led me to look into other publishers, but in the end I came back because Blurb offered the best prices and the options that I wanted.  I researched as much as I could, and decided to throw together a little 7 X 7 softback to test the quality myself.

I was very pleased.  All of the photographs I submitted were vibrant and colorful, just as they are here on my screen at home.  The paper had a decent, albeit thin, feel to it, and the overall quality was acceptable.  I decided to go ahead and trust them for my project.

My final book came back just as good as my test book.  Even better, actually.  The binding is great, the pictures are sharp and colorful, and the premium paper is good, although not as thick as I’d anticipated.  Even so, the finished product is quality.  I couldn’t have asked for more.

I don’t know if it will help, but I’ll go over the points that I believe made my experience positive with Blurb.

1.  Image size.  My photographs initially average 21 megapixels.  I know that Blurb’s software compresses everything and whatnot, but if you start out with a big image, your chances of preserving detail are always better.  Obviously, everyone has different equipment, but a good rule of thumb is to work with the highest-quality images you can get.  Bigger is better.

2.   Ignore the recommended color profile. I convert to Adobe 1998 in Photoshop when I work with RGB.  Really.  Not joking.  I’ve found that to be the most consistant color profile in RGB space.  There’s no point converting to CMYK because I’m pretty sure Blurb messes with that in upload anyway.

3.  Make sure your monitor is calibrated.  You don’t have to get fancy, but get it to the best color you can.  Lots of people here say their monitor is calibrated, then come back with dark images in their printed book.  I’m not saying your monitors are off, but I’m willing to bet there’s a difference in color profiles somewhere between what your monitor is telling you and what Blurb’s printers see.

4.  When in doubt, even if your pictures look fine at home, it won’t hurt to bump up the brightness a couple of levels before uploading.

5.  De-noise your pictures.  Digital noise makes pictures suck. 

6.  Don’t make a hardback or imagewrap book.  Make it softback.  Blurb is consistantly ball-dropsy on imagewrap and hardback books.  They simply don’t have the quality.  There’s some sort of unspoken rule that says hardbacks = more professional looking books.  Not true.  The softbacks are great, cheaper, and much more consistant.  Plus, they are much less damage prone.  It’s what’s inside that counts.

Al f these things are based soley on my experience.  I’m not trying to tell everyone what to do, only that these things worked for me.  Pay close attention to the layout and the quality of the images beforehand, and the results will be worth it in the end.

Also keep in mind that Blurb uses lots of different printers all over the place, and the results will vary from one to another.  It could be that I’ve just been lucky so far.

At any rate, I’m happy with the finished product.  I think the book is as good as it can be for a POD company.  I hope others have the same experience too.

Replytopic_b_normal
Posted by
sovknight
Dec 8, 2008 2:21am PDT
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sovknight
 

Beautiful book!  Just out of curiousity, what do you have on the spine?  It looks like the cover is a ‘double page spread’, but I don’t believe we can wrap the image around the spine.  If you figured out a way to do that, there are many of us who would love to know how!!

Thank you for sharing!

Regi

Posted by
rbgool
Dec 8, 2008 6:54pm PDT
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rbgool
 

Thanks for the feedback sovknight, that’s appreciated.

The only point I’d argue with is over the hardback books in your No.6 . I’ve had 11 hardback books now (over the last 7 months)), all single orders bar one (which had two books), and all have been great quality w.r.t. the covers and binding.

Agree with your No. 2. I use mainly Adobe products (Lightroom and PS) and convert my photos to Adobe RGB (aRGB) on donwloading from my camaera (I use RAW) and only convert to sRGB when exporting photos specifically for Blurb bookmaking.

No. 3 100% behind you here!

And I agree with Regi, looks like a beautiful book. Your friends need to be congratulated for pursuading you to produce it.

......Tony

 

Posted by
tfrankland
Dec 9, 2008 2:04am PDT
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tfrankland
 

I think that even if everyone here followed all your steps there are still so many variables outside of our control that Blurb manages to bungle on their end at an alarmingly high rate. Crooked binding, color casts, dark photos, bad shipping boxes, etc. etc. Until Blurb fixes these issues on their end I’m afraid any steps the user undertakes to make sure their images are 100% correct will not matter in the end. There’s only so much someone can do when half the process is out of their hands, after all.

Posted by
iamadonut
Dec 11, 2008 5:09pm PDT
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iamadonut
 

I just got my first book and it is terrible, pixelated type, B&W images with a color cast and parts of the pages cut off because the pages were enlarged from the original. Now I have to play the one email a day game with customer service. I won’t be back.

Posted by
trwheels
Dec 11, 2008 5:29pm PDT
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trwheels
 

My first order turned out beautifully so I ordered four more copies and they bear no resemblance to the first. Color is way off and “premium” paper is not (I can only tell because I ordered one with each kind of paper in my first order). I’m beside myself and anxious to see how this will be resolved. These were supposed to be Christmas gifts. Oh well.

Posted by
annbd
Dec 16, 2008 3:50pm PDT
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annbd
 

Regarding my previous post. This situation has been handled to my complete satisfaction. I arranged with Blurb to return the four defective books and they were replaced. The whole process took 2-3 weeks. Blurb also gave me a $10 credit.

Posted by
annbd
Jan 21, 2009 9:13am PDT
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annbd
 

Just received my 1st 8×10 premium paper photobook – I did a 40 page HB test and it came out beautifully – now I feel a little more comfortable about increasing the number of pages for a serious work,

Posted by
diomedes66
Jan 22, 2009 10:03am PDT
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diomedes66
 

Hello, I am making a dessert recipe book and I am thinking of using the premium matte finish paper. Any thoughts? I want thick paper since it’s a cook book, however I’ve noticed that 90% of people use the standard paper. Is this just for selling the books at a cheaper price.

Thanks

Posted by
Halvy
Sep 4, 2012 8:02pm PDT
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Halvy