Now anybody with a home computer can produce a professional, high-quality, hardbound book with a full-color dust jacket for less than $30, thanks to Blurb.com’s revolutionary online book-design software, a boon for your art business if you are interested in marketing art and selling art too.
by John A. Parks
Now anybody with a home computer can produce a professional, high-quality, hardbound book with a full-color dust jacket for less than $30, thanks to Blurb.com’s revolutionary online book-design software. “This truly is an empowering service,” says Bob Barancik, a painter and veteran graphic designer who has already made several books using Blurb. “It allows artists the opportunity to make a catalogue or book that looks as good as a publication from the best galleries or art publishers. It’s a wonderful and revolutionary promotional tool.
|Examples of the various subjects and styles
Blurb.com users chose in designing their own books for marketing art.
A Blurb book comes in an 8"-x-10" size with high-quality paper and a nicely bound spine. It is indistinguishable from a mass-printed volume, and its color quality is first-rate. The online interface is fairly easy to use and will not present problems to anyone who has worked with consumer-level software. Blurb.com offers a selection of templates and design styles that allow the user to focus on the content, while the website’s software takes care of the basic design issues. More adventurous users are able to customize features for more distinct looks. Although choices of typeface and book size are currently limited, the company plans to broaden its offerings in the future to include several new book sizes, which will be available early in 2007.
According to Eileen Gittins, the founder and CEO of Blurb.com, making a 150-page book shouldn’t involve a huge time investment. “Art books are usually 90 percent image content, with perhaps a text introduction and captions,” she says. “If page layouts are individually selected and images dragged and dropped in, it shouldn’t take longer than five to six hours to complete.” Gittins notes that Blurb.com also offers auto-flow software that allows users to let the computer drop in the pictures in a predesigned fashion. “Making a book this way takes half the time,” she says. “Once the book is uploaded to the Blurb site the author can expect the finished book to be delivered in seven to 10 business days.”
Obviously, much depends on having digital images of artwork available. Otherwise, “People do not need any special kind of equipment,” says Gittins. “Any modern digital camera of three megapixels or higher will produce high-enough resolution images for a full-bleed image. Some people do use photo-editing software, such as Photoshop, but it is by no means required. The concept behind Blurb is that regular people should be able to use their normal tools to make a fantastic-looking book.”
Prices start at $29.95 for a hard-covered book of 40 pages or fewer, and soft-covered books start at less than $20. A 160-page hard-covered book costs $39.95, and the prices go up to $79.95 for a 440-page book. There are modest discounts for orders of 25 copies or more, and, of course, there are shipping fees. “If you think about it,” says Barancik, “one of these books costs less than a good set of slides, and it’s a much more impressive product to give to a gallery or a client. Because Blurb.com allows you to have as few as one book at a time delivered, you can use the book as a highly directed promotional tool.”
Blurb.com enthusiasts include art collector Gregory Peterson, who used the service to make a handsome catalogue of his ever-growing collection of contemporary realist paintings. “The response has been extraordinary,” he reports. “It gives me the opportunity to show my collection to people in a way that’s somehow more authoritative than just having it on my website. If people want a copy for themselves, they can order it directly from the Blurb website, and a single copy will be printed just for them. And, because I can print as few as one copy at a time, I can even customize the book or change the cover for a particular individual. If I acquire another painting, I can simply add another page to my book the next time I print one.”
In addition to printing services, Blurb.com is working on marketing tools for people interested in selling their books. “You can market and distribute your books in your own bookstore on Blurb.com,” says Gittins. “And soon we will be announcing a very attractive royalty payment program whereby Blurb authors can set their own prices, and we will send payments against orders received. People are already buying their own ISBN numbers, placing them on the backs of their books, and offering the books through distribution channels, such as Amazon.com. In the future, Blurb.com will facilitate this with a premium marketing-service upgrade.”
“This is a great example of how digital technology can empower individual artists,” says Barancik. “By cutting intermediaries, such as book publishers and gallery owners, it allows artists complete control over how their work is presented, as well as providing a means to reach their public directly.”