Blurb was founded in 2005 by a photographer who wanted to collect her best works into one book, but couldn’t find an easy and affordable option. She realized that not everyone knows how to deal with file formats, software editing, graphic design, printing, and all of the other efforts that are required to create a high quality book. One year later, after collaboration with master’s from many domains, Blurb.com was born.
Many have emulated this company but none have achieved the breadth of interconnectivity that Blurb has. You can tie into Adobe programs for formatting, yank pictures straight from your Instagram and Facebook profiles (picture books make a great gift), and even distribute through Amazon, iTunes, and more. You can keep it simple or get as complex as you’d like throughout the entire process. You can even be completely hands off and let the internal Blurb team provide you with an attractive final product.
During their illustrious period of operations, Blurb has helped people design, print, and distribute millions of books. At this point, they report that through their suite of book-making tools, a new book is created and printed every single minute of every day. This growing customer base explains all of the various awards they’ve received over the years.
Top Features of Blurb
No matter if you’re a master of all the skills it requires to format a book or you have zero clue, you’ll find a lot of use in the various solutions Blurb offers to speed up the entire process. Newbies will enjoy the various templates where you can drag and drop text and images into a professional presentation. Bookwright, Lightroom, and others help you polish and put the final touch on your book or magazine.
The main thing that attracted me to Blurb was the variety of print sizes available. Most companies wanted to confine me to one of three options, but Blurb literally has an infinite number thanks to their custom build options on top of easier pre-designed choices. From photo books, trade books, magazines, traditional print, ebooks, and more, whatever it is you want to create, Blurb can help you do it.
Selling and distributing your final product is simple. You can drop-ship and print on-demand, or you can have Blurb distribute your book globally to companies like Barnes & Noble in addition to the ones mentioned above.
Blurb has attracted a huge community of independent artists. You can travel to regional events or attend online affairs. Working your way through their various online workshops will help you refine your craft as well. If you have any questions, you can ask thousands of others on the forum full of others just like you.
One of the coolest features is the “Dream Team,” which are employees of Blurb who can help you with every aspect of your work to really refine it. If you want a custom cover design, logo, need illustrations, want an editor, or even outsource the entire writing of your book to a ghostwriter, Blurb can do it. Blurb is the biggest all-in-one service ever in this industry, all without being overwhelming.
While the pricing varies depending on the quality of paper, trim sizes, type of binding and cover, order volume, etc., I can give you some generalized ideas of what you can expect to pay.
For a typical trade book with a softcover and normal print, a person could pay as little as $2.49 per book before volume discounts. To move up to a larger book with a full color hardcover dust jacket, you may pay $23.99.
Using the same considerations for a photo book, you could pay between $12.99 and $76.49 for all of the bells and whistles. Magazines can cost between $3.99 and $5.99 per unit. Ebooks start at $9.99 for the proper formatting, including reflowing so that you can distribute to Kindle, iPad, or any other e-reader without having to create several templates.
It should be noted that if you want to extend the length of the book by adding more pages, you’ll be charged as little as a penny per page or as much as $0.75 depending on the book type and size. Bulk discounts on larger volume print orders can afford you a 10%, 15%, or 20% discount up to 300 books. Things can get even cheaper if you need more than 300 copies, but you’ll have to request a custom quote.
Criticism of Blurb.com
Not having personally encountered any problems, I did become curious to see what other people were experiencing. There wasn’t much negative to find, but a few people claimed to have issues with the formatting and templating software. Of course, this will depend on your own computer and your own technical skills.
Others had negative things to say about the quality of the books they received, but acknowledged that they ordered the cheapest economy level possible. This is most likely a problem with expectations than the product itself. My own books came out just as I expected at the low level. I just wanted copies to give to my friends and family of a novel I wrote, and it was as good as softcover novels you’d buy at a bookstore.
Someone else mentioned being billed twice or having to wait too long for a customer support response. These are issues that are going to be encountered with any company and not necessarily representative of the quality of their service. Sometimes it just happens to be us who encounter the rare problem. It’s useful to remember that people with good experiences rarely speak up about it, while those other few people become the most vocal and vehement.
The support portion of the Blurb website is fantastic. I hate picking up the phone or waiting on an email response to a simple question. With Blurb you can read through any support documentation, frequently asked questions, ask the community on the user forums, and more. Basically, any question you could possibly have pre-sale or post-sale is answered and posted in the support section knowledge-base.
But if you encounter a new issue or prefer to talk to a live person, you can submit a help ticket, email the support department, or call the company. Live support is available for 15 hours per weekday, extending before and after typical work hours. It’s hard to beat that.
It’s been almost a decade since Blurb got started. Many competitors have entered the self-publishing and short-run printing scene since then, but all have failed to keep up with Blurb.
The originators are often the best and have the most experience, which is the case here. If you’re looking to print a few or tons of copies of your photography portfolio or your new novel, don’t bother looking elsewhere. Let Blurb handle your needs.