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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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.