Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: Blurb Photo Books + Coupon Code

In September I went to a meetup to learn more about the self-publishing company, Blurb. It was great to get out & meet some other bloggers over beer & appies, but the key thing was to see, or rather, feel the sample books at the event. I've seen a few photo books made by various people over the years & I can say without hesitation that Blurb books are the best quality out of any I've seen. When you're flipping though one, it feels just like some of the gorgeous coffee table books you'd find in the Art Gallery gift shop.

So when they offered me a $40 credit to make my own book & become a Blurb Affiliate, I jumped on it. Well, I thought about it a lot & then a month later, just before the credit expired, I finally finished my first photo book. I started by trying out their online photo book making application called Bookify, then decided I wanted a little more creative control with BookSmart. I downloaded it, installed it & within minutes I was adding images to my book. Not including choosing & editing images, I'd say my 42 page book (143 photos!) took me four to five hours to put together.

Blurb's online app: Bookify is really easy to use
If you're a bit strapped for time or you want the simplest user interface, Bookify is great. If you want a little more creative control, BookSmart allows you to adjust the page templates, moving text boxes, images or adding things like embellishments, page numbers, headers/footers & more.

It's quite easy to drag & drop images into the pages, edit text, choose from tons of fonts as well as zooming in on parts of the photos if you want to. The application will warn you if your images don't have the resolution to look good or if they're too close to the edge of the page. Once your Blurb book is completed, BookSmart prompts you to check the spelling again & look through the whole book to make sure you don't want to change anything before ordering.

Then comes the really hard part: the waiting. I uploaded my book & Blurb emailed me to say that it had been shipped a week later. Two days after that, it arrived at our house. So there wasn't actually that much waiting.

When we opened up the sturdy cardboard package, & tore the shrink-wrap off the hardcover 9"x11" book that I'd created, I was thrilled with the results. I'd chosen to upgrade the cover to Blurb's Imagewrap option, meaning there's no paper dust jacket: the photo is printed directly on the cover. It's a very professional looking book & considering it contains 143 photos, it's a much more compact way to store pictures than a photo album. I'm looking forward to filling our bookshelf with them over the years.

Blurb books start at $12.95 for photo quality paper (only $3.95 if you want to print a book on text-weight paper--a great way to self-publish your novel or poetry!) & go up from there depending on how many pages, paper quality, cover options, etc. Our 8"x10" hardcover book was $59 with taxes, shipping & a few upgrades including about 45 pages. If you were making a set of seven or eight 7"x7" softcover books as gifts for family members, they'd come out to about $16 each with the volume discount, taxes & shipping in Canada. Pretty reasonable for a Christmas gift, no?

If you are thinking about making a photo book or three (Christmas presents for the grandparents? Baby's first year? Vacation photos? Custom ABC book?), click on the links in the article or the ad in the sidebar on the right & check out Blurb. They have tons of ideas on their site, including videos to help you out. If you like what you see & decide to create a book with Blurb, I'll get a commission, which means I might actually be able to cover the costs of hosting & getting my own domain for The Sprog. :) If you use the coupon code FALLTHANKS during checkout, you'll save 15%.

Sale Details:
Offer valid through November 21st 11:59pm Local time. A 15% discount is applied towards product totals for books made by you. Maximum discount avail is USD $200, CAD/AUD $250 or EUR 160. This offer is not valid for GBP purchases. This offer is good for one time use only and may not be combined with any other offers, discounts, volume discounts, gift cards or used for adjustments on previous orders.

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