Jan 9, 2008

custom books

blurb's one of the best of the custom print-on-demand book services that have been popping up. they had a booth at nextfest 2007 last september, and i had a chance to poke around in some of the sample books they had on display -- high production quality and materials, good bindings, and quite good typography and layout, for a surprisingly low price (starting at $12.95 for a 40-page 7x7" 4-colour paperback). they've got a free page layout program called booksmart that is pretty decent too.

my big beef with blurb is that they don't permit designers to submit finished postscript files conforming to standard production parameters (size, etc) to them for production (or at least i couldn't find this option on the website anywhere) -- everything has to be designed on booksmart. which is nice if you're not the kind of person who gets all worked up about precision kerning on display text, but not so nice if you are. in all, probably a good thing for making a celebratory photobook or something simple like that without too much text, but useless for a project requiring greater typographical rigour.

it seems like it would be relatively simple for blurb to provide custom PPDs to designers so that they could design using more powerful tools without having to go through booksmart and still print a PS file that would be completely compatible with the printing system being used. if there's some workflow subtlety i've missed that would make accepting custom postscript prohibitively expensive or complex, i'd certainly like to hear about it -- but it would be real nice to be able to self-publish leverage in full colour.

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