Blurb – Black and White Text Book quality review

I’ve made several books before, but I’ve always been tempted by Blurb’s “Black and White Text” books.  They come in both Trade (6×9″) and Pocket (5×8″), and are significantly cheaper than their other offerings.  You still get a full colour cover, however the inside pages are “cream” and while called “Text only” books, Blurb advises that:

While perfect for text, the textured, low-contrast paper also gives black and white photos and drawings a decidedly edgy and lo-fi feel. 

I’d been reluctant to try as I couldn’t find a single review on the web about printing pictures in this type of book.  So I thought I’d give a quick summary of how it turned out and a few sample pictures side by side with the originals to see how it looks.

Sorry about the thumb, had to hold the book somehow!  Anyways, as you can see, the paper is definitely cream colour, which affects the whites.  Also, the blacks are not that “deep” compared to the original (a scanned black and white negative).  That being said, it still looks fine, not sure if I find it edgy, but lo-fi perhaps.  The type of picture above (contrasty, lots of light and dark but not so much midtones) seems to work best with this format.  It isn’t as good as the original but it’s not bad and not a lot is lost due to the printing.


The above picture shows where this format doesn’t work.  The picture has very small differences in shades of dark grey along the fence line.  In the original you can see these differences clearly, in the book however, most of the detail is gone, in fact the one pedestrian is even hard to see.  While this is disappointing, now that I know, I will refrain from using this type of picture.

Finally, this picture shows the quality of the printing up close.  The picture was printed 3.5×3.5″ so it has been blown up significantly.  As you can see, the printing really looks a lot like newsprint.  Good quality newsprint, but newsprint nonetheless.  Again I’m not being critical of this, just pointing out what you can expect from this type of book as examples are hard to find on the web.

Overall I’ve been quite happy with the book.  You can’t beat the price at under $10 for a 150 page 5×8″ book.  So long as you know what types of pictures to include or not to include, you can have an excellent book for a rock bottom price.

If you’re in need of a 5×8″ calendar (day planner) with pictures of Paris, or if you just want to check out the print quality for yourself, click here to see my book (or buy it if you like!).

Paris Day Planner 2012 – Buy me!

With some of my many Paris photos, I’ve made a 2012 Daily Planner (Calendar).  It features pictures taken with my xpan, voigtlander rangefinder, Holga, and Sony Nex 3.  I wanted to stick with only film cameras, but the cover shot was just too good to omit.

There are 14 pictures including the cover, and the last 20 or so pages are lined for notes.  It’s 5×8″ or “pocket book” sized and is available on Blurb for only $9.95  Click Here to see the book and purchase if you are interested.

Creative Inc.

Previously on Craft Collective I reviewed Craft Inc., a fantastic book about turning your creative hobby into a successful  business.  I’m pretty excited to see that Meg Mateo Ilasco and Joy Deangdeelert Cho have followed up Meg’s first book with Creative Inc. This book is similar to Craft Inc. except that it is designed for photographers, graphic designers, freelance artists, etc.

Get your copy from Chronicle Books

Meg Mateo Ilasco

Joy Deangdeelert Cho

The Xpan Book

It’s published!  Matthew Joseph got a bunch of us Xpan owners together through flickr and put together a book of 32 Xpan pictures (colour and black and white) to be published and sold on Blurb.  All the photographers donated their images, and any proceeds will go towards a charity.  It was quite the undertaking for Matthew Joseph, lots of haranguing to get photos and text from everyone, but he did a great job pulling it all together.  Due to the wonders of alphabetical order, I got the first shot in the book!

To view/buy the book

My picture.

Book Review: Indie Publishing

After two books through, I’ve become very interested in Publishing on Demand printing.  But while these services offer printing (and some editing), there isn’t much towards style or even just making your book look cohesive and not just a jumble of multiple fonts and layouts.

I saw “Indie Publishing: How to Design and Produce Your Own Book” on the shelf at Upper Case and I decided I had to buy it.  I read the book in an afternoon, it was that exciting!  The book, edited by Ellen Lupton, goes over everything you need to know for self publishing.

The book starts off covering all the various types of book designs, from novels to zines to portfolios.  From there it branches off into book design and layouts. How to pick fonts, the best way to set up your pages, etc.  While the first part of the book is directed at the Publish on Demand crow, the book does have a long section on fabricating your own books as well.  There are excellent pictures and descriptions that guide you through making hard cover, soft cover, stab binding, single signature, and accordion style books.  Many of these designs are actually quite simple to do once you see the directions.

The book wraps up with an excellent section on Indie Inspiration, showing all sorts of different book designs and styles. I found by the time I got to the last section, I was already raring to go, but these indie books certainly gave me some extra guidance.

While Blurb wasn’t rated the top photo book, and Lulu wasn’t even reviewed, the other photo books that were reviewed aren’t really set up for desktop publishing, more for photos only.  I’ve heard many good things about Blurb so our next book will likely be through them.

Best Photo Books?

I’ve had a fair bit of experience making photo books over the years, using Future Shop, My Publisher, and  I’ve switched companies usually because of price or ease of use.  I tried a company across the border but the brokerage fees were almost as much as the books.  Today it seems like there are more choices than ever in photo books, and I often wonder which company is the best.

Then I stumble upon “The Great Photo Book Review Round up” by Jason Dunn.  Jason has done what really needed to be done to be able to fairly compare photo books: he made a photo book and had it printed by 12 DIFFERENT companies.  He was fortunate in that they all donated the printing costs!  Afterwards he wrote a 15,000 word review comparing all the different companies on not only their book quality, but pricing and their software/interface.

Something to keep in mind is that not all companies provide the same service. Blurb not only can create just about any type of book, it can also market it for you, while some of the other companies are made to “drag and drop” photos into their templates.  The other thing is I’ve heard that some of these companies don’t print their own books, they simply contract it out to local printers, so a Blurb book ordered in Europe will not be printed in the same place as one ordered in North America. Finally he was not able to test iPhoto (something many commenters asked about) as he did not have a mac computer.

And the winner is?  Well I won’t make you read the whole review as it could take most of a weekend, however here is Jason’s brief summary of all the companies.

PubIt! – Barnes and Noble Self Publishing

Barnes and Noble, a store that sells books and has recently released the Nook e-reader, recently announced ‘PubIt’, a form of online self publishing.  I’ve mentioned before and their service that I’ve tried with their publishing on demand, but what Barnes and Noble is doing is getting rid of the printing completely.  Authors can create their masterpieces and upload them to be sold as an electronic book.  This means that self published authors will not have to shell out large sums of money to print copies of their books.  Having no inventory means no upfront expenses.

Barnes and Noble eReader

PubIt story on Engadget