Just in case you have the idea for a photo book this video might be of interest. I haven’t paid much attention to the Blurb blog as most of it seemed mere promotion, but found via Blurb on Google+ that Daniel Milnor however is giving a great lecture and really compressed tour de force through many aspects of creating a photo book.
Photographer Martin Bailey has a long podcast interview about a fascinating self-publishing project titled “Self Publishing Sky Crystals with Don Komarechka (Enhanced)”
Most photographers are very occupied with the technical,numeric standards of their work. They always want the super top printing quality and best resolution and reproduction of their files and fiddle with their colors specs with no end. After having assembled a book on Blurb they find out that the price tag on a 200 page landscape format in colour is way too expensive for the market.
As a result Martin Bailey and Don Komarechka come to the conclusion that self-publishing for photographers is not possible with Blurb unless you just want to go for a small edition or a personal project, an exhibition catalogue or portfolio book to hand out to clients for example.
I question that printing an edition in a conventional way is cheaper in the end unless you print a rather big edition with the risk of selling only a fraction. In fact Komarechka admits that after having sold about 1000 copies he is reaching break even now, i.e. the cost for a book copy are at ca. 35$, I guess about half of the costs of a paper publication on blurb. However I do not know whether his calculation includes not only the costs of shipping the books to buyers worldwide, but also the time and effort spend on communication with buyers,handling payments, packing each and every copy ,wrapping it taking it to the post office and so on.
The hard copy is one thing, but Blurb as other POD companies offer also the e-book version, which I would consider the most important version of a high-resolution photo book in colors these days.
Another cost factor is that all the time that is spend with administration and physical handling of a mail order business is lost for the creation and development of new work. That are the real bad costs.
I like publishing my projects in relatively cheap paperback form, if possible in black and white. The idea of the cheap artist book goes back to Ed Ruscha and his notorious 26 gas stations. I always have that in mind and ask myself when planning a new book: Is this possible as cheap (black and white) paperback?
My Blurb membership is growing old, a bit at least. The first book order I placed on Blurb.com goes back to August 2008. Blurb always has been a bit slow in development from my point of view, but development takes place and for the better. The book editing software is doing OK, there is PAYPAL integration, there is now an ebook option and you can generate a pdf-file from your book (at a bit of costs though) to name those changes that seem important to me.
End of last year to my surprise I got an invitation for an interview with some of the friendly Blurb staff. I was motivated by a 100$ coupon so I took the chance. Blurb wants to know what tools their customers use to make their Blurb publications. I requested them to keep the entry levels as low as possible, I use a version of photoshop elements to do very basic manipulations on images that are too dark or seem out of color balance. I write my text Microsoft word and that’s it. Then I transfer text and images into the book editing software.
I used the coupon to cover some of the costs for two private books in small square format (7X7 inch). One solely with images taken with the Hipstamatic app and an Iphone 3GS (square pics at the top), and a second one with images taken with a NIKON D90. Both books had the maximum page count of 240 for premium paper and 440 for standard paper,in total both books contain ca. 1000 images. Below you can see image examples. I find the results very satisfying, especially the results from the low tech phone camera.
The resolution of the images is not very high and dose not represent the original resolution as I took the images from the online book preview. What I want to show is that Blurb can print in excellent colors and they can print also difficult images, like the ones with a lot of black. I had taken a picture of a Gothic painting that is shown in a very dark room at the Hotel de Dieu, Beaune (Burgundy). Only some spotlight illuminate the paintings, the room is like a black chamber. I metered the light with the D90 spot meter and took some very nice pictures, which I cannot show here for copyright reasons. Those images were printed very well by Blurb.
I had to ask for a re-print unfortunately of the Hipstamatic book because some pages had some strange,foreign color spots outside of the image area. The reprint was delivered by FEDEX within a week or so. So this order was not 100% perfect, but close to perfect. I could see only very slight differences in print between the original print and the re-print. It seems that the contrast was not always the same, sometimes a bit stronger in the first print and sometimes in the second print, it is really hard to see.
The little pamphlet on Blurb has grown a bit and comprises now 80 pages instead of the 72 pages in the previous one. The price is unchanged as I stayed within the 80 page limit. The text was edited and extended and in total improved I hope. The chapter on tree trunks is longer also a chapter on drawing foliage was added with some of the latest step by step drawings.
I also added three two page spreads of charcoal drawings which are printed nicely. The paper in my copy is a nice cream white which I like much better than the cold white paper that came in the old version. However I do not know whether Blurb will use same materials in all printing facilities. The coloured front and back covers have been printed very well too.
There are some books one has to have. The tree of codes by Jonathan Safran Foer is one of those for me. Cover graphics and title got my attention immediately. There can be some sort of magic in books, especially in art and artists books, they can spark off ideas or close missing connections.
Visual Editions seem to be an amazing bookmaking company.
The barcode like tree trunk ink drawing is the first of a series that shall go into an artists book to be published on blurb later this year. Drawing or painting in the forest is confusing in a way (so many things and details) and liberating at the same time as there is no composition, no picture unless you force it. It is easy to let the picture go and grasp the abstract graphics instead.