Book Review: Indie Publishing

After two books through Lulu.com, 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.

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Best Photo Books?

I’ve had a fair bit of experience making photo books over the years, using Future Shop, My Publisher, and Lulu.com.  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.