Lulu Encore…

After last year’s great success of our own “yearbook” with Lulu.com, we decided we would do it again this year.  To mix things up we went with US Trade as the format (6×9″).  While last year I really wanted a square format, this year I found the 6×9 to be more my liking, similar to what you get in Make or Craft magazine.  We chose perfect bound again and were quite please with the finish of the book.

I managed to fix some flaws from last year’s book where it was meant to be full bleed (right to the edge of the paper), yet it was not always printed that way.  It turns out that although you design it in InDesign to do full bleed, unless you check this off in the PDF creation, all your efforts will be lost.  The curious thing is the Lulu preset for pdf files does not have this checked off???  Otherwise I found it a big improvement from last year that Lulu has their own PDF presets you can download in order to be sure it is the correct way.

While the printing was good, I did find the pictures to be too dark, and any pages where I put a solid coloured background you could see white patches within the solid colour. One page that was supposed to be black was definitely more of a charcoal.   I’d like to see Lulu try some different paper types.  A semi-gloss might be nice for a photo book IMO.

The book was a bit longer this year, 85 pages bringing the price up to $23. I was a little dissapointed that Lulu sent me an online coupon for 15% off, but when I tried to use it I was told it was only for UK residents. If they know I am Canadian, then why would they send me this coupon?  After much searching around the net, I did find an online coupon but only for $10.  A week later I received another coupon from them, this time for 20% off. Considering I bought 13 books, this would have saved me quite a bit of money!

Next year we will order one copy for ourselves in a hard-cover, while the give-aways will remain soft-cover (too expensive!).  We may also try yet another format next year, who knows.

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DIY Book Publishing

While it would seem with all the technological advancements of today that we are moving away from printed literature, I think at some levels, due to Print On Demand (POD) services, printing has never been so common or affordable.  Almost a year ago, my girlfriend and I self-published a sort of “yearbook” of our happenings.  While it was quite a bit of work, in the end it was well worth the effort, and it certainly opened my eyes to the world of self publishing.

 

We used lulu.com to publish our book.  Lulu is a print on demand service that does everything from the usual photobooks all the way up to self publishing, editing, and even design for you.  They even have a service to advertise your book on Amazon and give it a ISBN.  There are of course costs for all of these services, but if you are a beginner author/photographer, this could be a small step in the right direction for you without a huge outlay of funds.

 

Books can be made in a variety of formats, landscape/portrait/square, coil/saddle/perfect bound, and soft/hard cover/dust cover.  On top of this there are now two paper types and the option of colour or black and white.  So why doesn’t everyone publish there own books if it’s so darn easy? Well there is a catch, read on…

 

Lulu is a print on demand, they print what you ask them to, when you ask them, and in the quantity you specify.  Unless you pay them big bucks, that is all they do, so it is up to you to do all the typing, photos, and layout.  I chose to do my layout in InDesign by Adobe.  Very powerful publishing software that took a while to learn, but by the last page of the book, I was quite adept at it.  A year later, I must confess that I’ve forgot most of it unfortunately… So if you don’t possess those skills, or are not willing to learn, this may be an insurmountable hurdle.  Photobooks may be best for you in this case as you can simply drag and drop your photos into the templates.

 

I found the printing quality quite good, nice colours, consistent from book to book (we ordered 12).  My only complaint was I found that the pages weren’t always cut completely straight. You could tell as on some pages I left a slight border around the pictures, and the border was definitely not the same size along the whole length of the page.  It was a minor flaw and one that no one else noticed.

 

Shipping was also a bit expensive up to Canada (from US), however this got better with ordering larger numbers.  A year later and we are currently starting work on our next book, likely will be a new format (US trade, last year was 8.5″ square), and maybe a few more pages if the budget allows.  Cost for a 80 page perfect bound colour book is around $20 USD.