My second book - comments
I have had pretty much the same sort of experience on four different books. If you don’t calibrate your monitor, and you don’t work in sRGB, chances are the images when printed in your book will appear more saturated, darker overall. In some cases where this has happened, it has been a fortuitous accident.
Far and away to my way of thinking at least, the text editor is indeed the weak link in the whole process. Given the history of text editing software and the improvements that have been made to it in the past couple of decades, I don’t understand why it can’t be substantially improved without huge expenditures of money and time. When I try to make my headers a color, or a mixture of colors, they often revert to a different typeface and become black. Same with the title on the spine—even when I lock it, it can revert back to something else. I really hope this addressed thoroughly and soon.
Having said all of that, I still am very proud of what I’ve produced and somewhat in awe of the fact that I can produce a coffee-table quality book of my own, 13×11", for $65. I come from the offset printing world. If you tried to do one identical book, using offset lithography, you’d spend at least $15,000 in the US, and at least $6,000 in China.
BookSmart Cannot Be Trusted--Doesn't Save Updates and Corrected Versions
I have BookSmart 1.9.1. Don’t have much experience with the previous generation of it, but what I am experiencing is something that is intolerable in printing and publishing at any level.
After making a change to the color of the type in my headers, and applying them, and saving them routinely, the type color reverts to the wrong, original color. What a pain in the ass! I can’t get it to work consistently now. It’s hard enough to make changes and catch all the inconsistencies in a book layout, but when the software can’t function properly and maintain and preserve the author’s corrections, it borders on being worthless. What is worse is, there seems to be no pattern to it. Sometimes the changes stick, sometimes they don’t.
I love the potential of BookSmart, and Blurb.com, but a lot more time, money, and oversight needs to go into software development needed to allow people like me to trust that the software functions properly. If it can’t, I will have to seek other competing products that don’t have these issues.
Several questions before printing...
Antonio, not sure in terms of RGB what the values are for the three colors. But in the print world, CMYK—100K, 60C, 60M, 40Y is pretty typical.
2 Books, Lessons Learned
I just received my first two Blurb books-<del>one 11×13" hardbound, and a second book in two formats</del>-medium-sized hardbound, and same size softbound.
I have been an offset lithographer/printer for 22 years, as well as a photographer for 35 years. So, I think I am fair and balanced, but critical and perceptive when it comes to quality.
My overall reaction-<del>I think the hardbound copies meet my pretty high expectations. The binding isn’t world-class or high-end by any stretch, but fair and reasonable given the price. The softbound copy leaves more to be desired</del>-for one thing, it is a very thin (20 page) book. It looks more like a thin brochure than a book. In addition, the paper grain is not the best it could be on the cover-<del>the fibers/grain run with the width of the book, laterally. This means that when the book absorbs moisture or experiences temperature changes, the cover curls laterally, and the top and bottom righthand corner on the front cover curl toward the reader. Not a good way to go. I hope they can address that.
Color: again, all things considered, is very good when it comes to the photographs. Compared to my very carefully calibrated monitor, the images tend to be more saturated and slightly darker</del>-though not objectionably so. I was somewhat disappointed in the background gray color-<del>usually on digital printed projects, the density of the background color is very consistent</del>-not so with my Blurb book. In a photographic book, especially, I would strongly recommend not printing a colored background if consistency is important.
You can’t-<del>I repeat</del>-you can’t be careful enough in preparing your files and checking and re-checking them. I did not print the pages out ahead of time-<del>big mistake. Somehow, some of the photos picked up black outlines along the way</del>-I thought I had eliminated them, but turns out I hadn’t. Printing out the book before submitting it also allows you to get a feel for the relative scale of the type and imagery-<del>my captions were way too big (14 pt.), and should have been 10 or 11 pt. maximum. Blurb’s spell-check is weak at best, so have someone proof and reproof and reproof your work. You’ll avoid producing a flawed book.
My books were all printed by Blurb’s printer partner on the West Coast. I really wonder how they decide which print shop prints the books you order, and more, what differences there are from printer to printer. I am sure they manage this closely, but it would be interesting to know how, if at all, the results vary from printer to printer.
Software: I am glad, on a basic level, that it exists and functions reasonably well. It can be very slow on my Mac G5 and G4. Sometimes, if I change the font size from 14 pt. to 11 pt., nothing happens. But it I change it to 10 pt. it changes quickly, and then I have to change it again to get my 11 pt. type</del>-time-consuming, and it can increase the risk of mistakes of course.
I am anxious to do some larger/longer books—India, Arequipa in Peru, a cross-country road trip I made in the US in 2001, and maybe a retrospective of some of my favority stuff.
In the meantime, I hope Blurb thrives and invests whatever it can in enhancing and improving the software and working out some of the inconsistencies and color issues in its digital printing.