Friday, January 08, 2016
The documentation for some features is a little sketchy, but most of that is taken care of by a bit of experience in using the program. For instance, I had a little trouble discerning at first how to save my images in PhotoShop in a form that would be acceptable for printing. Getting the images and text boxes lined up properly was a little challenging as there is no snap-to function and the grid display is not very helpful. While there are a large number of fonts available, there is not a very good way of establishing a user-chosen default, and I found I had to keep checking to make sure the program was using the choice I preferred. None of these issues was a deal breaker, however, and I think one is likely to face similar problems with about any software package of this type.
The question that remains unanswered for me is whether or not the Blurb final product is going to meet my expectations in regard to quality and cost. I thought I might get some idea about those issues by looking at examples in the on line store where users' publications are shown. It turns out however that somewhere in the neighborhood of 99% of the Blurb self-publishers don't seem to have a clue about making books. Most of the photo book offerings lack any clear message and often seem to be rather randomly assembled collections of pictures, usually with no textual context. Prices for hardcopy books very often exceed $100, which is way, way beyond what I would be willing to pay, even for something very well produced and by a known artist.
So, I am relying at this point mostly on my own experience and perceptions for evaluating the Blurb possibilities. I decided to keep costs in check by selecting the better quality magazine format and limiting the page count. I was pleased to see that I could produce a publication that presented some coherent ideas at a base cost of under ten bucks. However, when I placed the order for my proof copy I was shocked to see that the shipping charge for that single issue was over six dollars. That, for me, makes the total cost just barely acceptable. As it turns out, you can get up to five issues of the publication shipped for the same amount, but I'm not sure that really offers me anything useful.
My impression at this point is that the most practical outcome of my Blurb efforts will be some kind of ebook, probably in pdf format. That could be made available on line, and the production cost is neglibible. I will probably put together a package of options including hardcover offerings, but my expectations at this point fall quite a bit short of the self-publishing hype that presently saturates the web.