July 28, 2008

Blurb – Be Your Own Publisher

A little more than a few years ago, contemplating the idea of publishing your own book would have seemed far-fetched, at best.  Now with the breadth of the Internet and more accessible printing technologies, high-quality book production is not only realistic, it’s actually quite easy.

Enter Blurb, a startup print-on-demand publishing service that gives everyone access to book production rivaling the quality of bookstore publications.  Options range from simple soft cover books with only a few pages all the way up to several hundred page hard cover photo albums.  Best of all, there are no minimum purchase requirements which gives you the option of starting small.  The Blurb site is filled with plenty of inspirational book ideas and the ability to browse and purchase publications from other users.

What’s most intriguing about Blurb is the BookSmart software which works on both Macs and PCs and provides point-and-click simplicity for virtually any level of computer user.  Blurb even offers pre-made layouts, graphic templates, and a considerable amount of customization options to transform your book into something memorable.

Practical Uses:

  • Create an annual hard cover family photo album to give as gifts
  • Publish a children’s bedtime story and offer for sale online at
  • Print a copy of all of your blog posts in book form
  • Develop a full-color hardcover portfolio containing your personal works for use in job interviews

Insider Tips:

  • Place your order early if you’re intending to purchase during the holidays
  • If printing a photo book, start with high-quality images that are already color-corrected and ready for print
  • Explore Blurb for other users’ creations, the selection and quality are remarkable

What We Liked:

  • BookSmart software speeds up the process and reduces the chances of errors
  • Ability to market your creations for sale on the Blurb website and keep the profits from the sale
  • Wide range of book format choices (soft cover, hard cover, square, landscape, etc.)
  • Reasonable pricing overall given the quality of work
  • Tight integration with Flickr

What We Didn’t Like:

  • Blurb doesn’t accept files from graphic design software or even a PDF which makes the process more difficult for experiences designers and artists
  • One of our test books had print quality issues on a few pages
  • The timeline for printing and receiving books can take upwards of 2-3 weeks during busy periods


Company Info:

  • Launched in 2004
  • Privately held
  • Headquarters: San Francisco, CA
  • Founded by Eileen Gittins
  • Web site:


  • BookSmart Software (Mac/PC) is free
  • Printing can run as low as $12.95 for a 7″x7″ 40-page softcover book on up to $169.95 for a 440-page hardcover 13″x11″ book


  • 4 out of 5 (superb)

Screenshot of the introductory page on Blurb

Screenshot of ideas pages on Blurb

Screenshot of the Blurb pricing page

Screenshot of the Blurb Bookstore where users can publish and sell their works

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