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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Gadget Bag: Self-Publish

Making your own high-quality photo book is easy

Labels: Gadget BagGear

This Article Features Photo Zoom

Digital image files have made it simple for any photographer to upload and print their own high-quality photo books. A few options online include Bay Photo, Blurb, Mpix, AdoramaPix, AsukaBook, BookBaby and PhotoBook Press, among others. Each of the companies we look at here offers a variety of customizable sizes, designs and features for making your book stand out from the pack.

As convenient as a tablet is, there's a special cache that comes with a printed book. When you show it to friends and family, or just have it sitting out on your coffee table, the printed page has an allure that compels people to look. If you're looking to build a photography business, even a part-time weekend business, a book is a perfect way to show off what you can do and it carries gravitas with prospective clients. The custom book publishers make it easy to get reprints at anytime, which means you don't have to incur the expense of a large print run up front. All in all, it's no wonder why custom books have become so popular. Here's a look at some options.


Blurb (www.blurb.com) is a full-service book producer that lets you create your book, order copies and even sell it via the online Blurb Bookstore. Photo books are available in sizes from 7x7 inches to 13x11 and 12x12 inches, starting at $12.99 to $50.99, depending on size, cover and paper stock. Additional pages range from 15 to 75 cents each, depending on size and paper stock. Blurb also offers books in custom sizes, and ebooks with video.

Blurb first asks you if you want a simple book or a book with custom options. The custom option requires a download of the Blurb BookSmart software (the simple option takes you to Blurb's Bookify software online), which includes robust font and design template options. Upload happens automatically when you place your order, and you're taken to the Blurb website to complete payment details. Once you order a copy of your book, Blurb keeps it on file in your account, and you always can reorder it.

Bay Photo
Bay Photo
Bay Photo (www.bayphoto.com) has so many photographic printing options that it's easy to get lost on the home page. Fortunately, there's an 800 number for help. The company offers a three-day print run followed by standard two-day shipping. Ten-page/20-side Photo BayBooks are available from 5x5 to 11x14 and 12x12 inches, starting at $28 to $54, depending on size and pages, paper and printing type. Additional pages run from $1.40 to $5.90 each (each page having two printable sides). Bay Photo requires use of their Bay ROES lab connection software. The interface isn't overly graphical, but it packs a lot of power into a fairly tight space via drop-down menus. When finished with the layout, you can choose paper coatings, page textures and premium 6-color printing.

Mpix (www.mpix.com) makes prints as well as photo books and other photo-related products. Softcover photo books range from 5x5 to 7.75x10 inches, starting at $15 to $25. Page count runs from 12 through 40. Hardcover photo books are available from 5x5 to 8.5x11 or 10x10 inches, starting at $20 to $30. Page counts run from 20 through 50. A 48-hour turnaround is standard on press items. If you order before 11 a.m., your order begins that day, and $10 gets your book delivered the next day.

Auto-alignment and other guides make it easy to position page elements accurately. Font options are limited, but all things considered, it's a fairly intuitive and functional workflow—especially since it's web-based software.


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