Blurb offers ebooks – a new perspective!

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Recently Blurb announced their Ebook feature on their weblog.

Of course I had to try out immediately and tested my publication “How to draw a tree”. As per today the Blurb ebooks should be opened only with the free IBook application for Iphone and Ipad. Other readers like Stanza might not work. Also the email program of my Iphone crashed several times as I had send the book file via email to get it on the phone.

You better download Blurb Ebooks and move them into Itunes or download the file from the url that comes with the buying confirmation directly to your iphone or Ipad. Downloading an ebook to read it on the Iphone is pretty much useless, the screen is much to small. For the Ipad or PC,Mac these Ebooks make perfect sense.

My next publication a re-print of the forest diary is in the works, in fact I am waiting for my hard copy for final proof check. I did it as a colour pocket book in size 6×9 inches (15×23 centimeters). This is the cheapest printed colour version that Blurb offers at present. Nevertheless the hardcopy with 158 pages will cost around $25 plus shipping. The ebook version can be as low in price as $ 5-6 per copy even though Apple will take 30% of the profits.

The difference in price for black and white small paper backs and the ebook version is “marginal”. The 30% share that Apple takes and taxes that are deducted in case of shipments to foreign countries are the reason for that. For a German Buyer 30% go to Apple and 7% to German taxes, in total 37% of the book price are deducted. As a result authors have to charge a ca. 40% higher markup to get similar result as with hardcopy print.

However as I understand Blurb does not feature ebooks in the Apple store yet. That will come soon. I assume that this is the reason one has to accept the Apple store TOS before you can sell an Ebook in the Blurb store. As with the hardcover versions you have to buy your own book also as ebook before you can sell online. In other words publishing an ebook with Blurb costs you $1.99 as per today.

Unfortunately it seems that images files can be extracted from the Epub document format that Blurb is using fairly easy. Some photographers have voiced concerns about this, they fear that their work can be taken away in original resolution from the present book files. I commend to check for the discussion going on in the Blurb forum.

There is another technical issue that applies to books with double page image spreads. Blurb offers a double spread image layout in the book making software. However the trim in the book middle is not compensated. Therefore the image center is “damaged” or cropped in printed copies if one uses this option. The Ebook looks exactly like the book preview and that shows not that effect. As printed version and Ebook version are derived from the same book file data you will either have a mutilated print version or a not so professional looking EBook version if you compensate the trim in the middle of the book by placing your images in way that compensates the cut.

As with printed books Blurb seems to offer with their ebook option a way with very low barrier for authors. I would bet that many author artists will be attracted by the option to publish and sell in the Apple store.

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