I was approached recently to review a book printing service by Blurb. I don’t normally write reviews on this blog, but when they offered to pay for me to print a book and weren’t interested in seeing my review before it was published, I was intrigued and the opportunity was too good to resist.
I’ve printed photobooks before, using Photobox with reasonable sucess. The quality has always been good and on one occasion when it wasn’t they replaced the book free of charge. I am a happy customer.
Blurb specialise in just books – no photos or posters. There’s two ways you can build your book, using either an online application or by downloading software. There’s a decent selection of book types from coffeetable photobooks to novels with a range of templates to get you started. Almost everything is customisable.
The online application has some limitations over the downloaded software, the main being images and content used for one book can’t be used for another – annoying when when you’ve uploaded images for a book, decide to change the type of book from standard to square, and then have to upload all your photos again.
This problem doesn’t exist on the downloaded software, where you only send the final book design to the blurb site to print – all the editing can be done offline using any content you have on your computer.
The basics of adding pages, re-ordering and changing page layouts is all very simple, and you can apply text formatting across the book using custom styles.
Beyond copying and pasting text and inserting images there are a few importing options, getting photos from online sites such as facebook, instagram and flickr, or importing content from a blog as well as plugins for MS Word and Adobe InDesign. You can auto-fill your book with content to get you started, and text flows from one page to the next without any problems.
Uploading your finished item and paying is straight forward. You can choose different paper qualities and other customisations, and there’s also an option of creating an ebook, although only Apple iOS ebooks are supported.
Finally, delivery is reasonable considering the work being done, and I was impressed with the final product. Photos were clear and sharp with good colour, text was sharp and the paper a decent quality. The layout was true to the design with no erroneous cropping.
I am a happy customer. (Even happier that I didn’t have to pay this time).
- Being able to work offline – much faster an a web application.
- Range of layouts and options
- Price – a basic 20 page square book costs £8.
- Not being able to share content across books online.
- A few problems logging in and authorising flickr , though problem may have been outsite Blurb’s control
Would I recommend and use Blurb again?
For a simple book it worked well, and if you have more time you can create something quite impressive.
You often know you’re onto a good thing with a company which is so confident in their product they’re willing to give you a free trail (and in my case even extend the trail as baby demands meant my original voucher expired).