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!).


Magnum In Motion

We all know about Magnum, but how many have been visiting their website?  You could spend days surfing this site with incredible image after incredible image. But what is “Magnum in Motion“?

From the website:

Founded in New York, in 2004, Magnum In Motion

is the multimedia digital studio of Magnum

Photos. In Motion assembles visual narratives

for online and offline platforms, including

screenings in museums, festivals, and workshops.

I encourage you to go and visit the site, make sure you have plenty of time, you’ll have trouble tearing yourself away from the computer screen…

iPad vs. macbook pro…

Let me start off by saying if you are looking for an in-depth, hard hitting review of either of these devices, you’re not going to find it here. The following are merely some musings of mine as to the usefulness of both of these devices as it pertains to me. You being a reader of this blog likely share some similar needs/wants so may find this useful.

So, on with the show! Let me just say that I am not an Apple fan boy, I am a recent convert to Apple with an iMac purchase a couple of years ago.  I bought it as I was frustrated with my old desktop (a PC, but it was frustrating due to it’s age, not it’s OS).  While I’m not overly pro either, I do prefer Macs now that I’m used to them, however I do find them a little hard to find my way around as I’ve grown up on PC’s.  I really like the design of Apple products, and the way my computers are used, they are a piece of the room, so design to me is important.

With our upcoming trip to Paris, I needed something to bring with us so we could email home, update our blogs, edit digital photos, skype home, and create books.  We already have an iMac, but this isn’t very portable.

When the iPad was first announced, I was intrigued, but was it a must have? No, I thought I could do without it.  I am a gadget guy. I love my gadgets, and I often NEED the latest gadget (or so I convince myself).  The iPad seemed cool, but it didn’t really blow my mind.  But as it got closer to launch date, and more reviews became available, I was getting swayed.  Then I watched ALL the apple videos on what the iPad could do.  I was hooked. It seemed so useful, no INDISPENSABLE!

Looks like I could do the books with iWork, and skype would work but not with video, editing photos would not work, but updating blogs/email would be a cinch.  The big deal is that we could read magazines (our favourite pass-time) and we wouldn’t waste all that paper.  The iPad also seems like a device that is only going to become more useful as more and more apps are developed for it.  The last thing I thought was upon our return, it would still be useful to have and to use curled up on the couch or in a coffee shop.

Then we have the macbook pro. Why not the macbook? Well I think the pro looks cooler.  This can do absolutely everything we need and more. Not only could it run iWork, but it would be more than capable of running CS3 (preferred by me).  It also has a bigger screen, a keyboard included, and much more storage.  So where’s the trouble? Sounds like the macbook pro is perfect?  Well except that it costs more than double, and upon our return in the fall we don’t really need a laptop.  I guess you could argue that whatever we do with an iPad we could also do with this laptop, but it seems a bit wasteful to me.

After much deliberation, I decided that editing photos was a must so we went with the macbook pro purchase.  I think the laptop could be useful in our future business ventures in design, and will likely find a place in our studio in the fall.  While I still think the iPad is a great idea, I think version 2 will likely be even more impressive. Hopefully a forward facing camera to enable video chat is included.