I’ve just given Blurb a try. This was something I promised myself I’d do during the end of year holiday between Christmas Day 2008 and New Year’s Day 2009. Blurb is a service for self-publishing – it enables authors to sell books that they create using Blurb software, on the Blurb online bookshop. Buyers can purchase any uploaded books made public on the Blurb online bookshop – but only physical copies in softcover and hardcover are for sale – there is no purchase option for downloadable PDFs.
My new book, a series of digitally edited photos taken during a trip to Cambodia (Siem Reap specifically) in november 2003, was put together using Blurb’s free software. Currently in version 1.9.9, it’s called Blurb BookSmart, and is available in Windows and Mac versions. I tried both, and found them to be a much easier application to use than Microsoft Publisher 2007. (In the “old” days, we used PageMaker and Ventura).
To give it a fair test, I relied completely on BookSmart’s built-in themes and page layouts. The final book size came to about 42Mb (the right size for a 40 page book), and was a relatively painless upload (about 15 minutes) to the Blurb website. Once the upload completes, Blurb’s webpage launches automatically, and after logging in, one is able to order a copy (which I did – a hardcover edition printed on premium paper, with a dustjacket), make the book public on the bookstore website (meaning browsers of the site can see the title, preview the first 15 pages and purchase online), set your price and promote it.
The book preview feature is surprisingly good. It’s a flash application that renders the book image from the upload – here’s the example of the cover in the preview:
Promotion is available via a “tell a friend” link, a “make a badge” widget that generates html to paste into a website or blog page (see the badge at the end of this post), and “post to the web” – which provides links to del.icio.us, digg, facebook and the like.
I won’t be able to comment on the print quality until the book arrives in several week’s time – though feedback I’ve read in forums suggests I’ll be in for a pleasant surprise. All my images were created as 300dpi pictures in Photoshop Elements, and I was careful to set them to the right physical dimensions before importing them into BookSmart, so I really should not worry too much.