I recently watched an interview on design site Dezeen where Teresa Pereira of Blurb talks about the company and the world of self-publishing today. She was speaking at Clerkenwell Design Week so the emphasis was on self-publishing for designers / design companies but Blurb can be used by a variety of different people and I found the talk really interesting.
Teresa Pereira of Blurb
First Teresa explains that “Blurb is a self-publishing platform that has free design tools that people can use to create a book and then ultimately go on to publish it and sell it on our website.” She goes on to explain that what makes Blurb different, in her opinion, from other self-publishing options is that they have a robust set of software as well as the option to upload documents from InDesign and that this offers a super high quality of printing and excellent opportunities for visual creativity when self-publishing with Blurb.
Blurb for Visually Rich Books
For the self-publishing of my text-only book Crochet Saved My Life I used Amazon’s CreateSpace and I’ve been happy with it (including the visual that I used for the cover). However, I didn’t look into Blurb as an option and it’s something I would at least consider looking at if I were going to print a photo-rich book because the people I’ve seen who use Blurb all use it for the reason that the quality of that is so high. (For example, artist Mandy Greer chose Blurb for her ten year retrospective photo book and I’m pretty sure my photographer friend Julie has co-published a project through Blurb). In the interview Teresa mentions that the company is commonly used by designers to create portfolio books, brand books, brochures for clients, and annual reports.
Blurb for Magazines
One thing that Teresa mentions that I didn’t realize was that you can also use Blurb to print magazines. Of course this makes sense since they do brochures and other paper-based work of varying format sizes. I just hadn’t thought about it before. It made me wonder if it is a profitable way to publish a magazine in today’s digital age. She said that they have people publishing monthly, quarterly and annual magazines.
Books as Objects
One of the things that Teresa mentions, which I’ve heard mentioned more than once recently, is that people are seeking to purchase a book as an object, not just as the story in the book. This seems so true in the digital age when the content itself could easily be obtained digitally and so there has to be some other reason to purchase and keep a hard copy of a book. A well-designed book that is in and of itself a work of art and an object that could be placed on display has value, which increasingly means that book design is crucial for people self-pubishing print books.
Self-Publishing vs. Print Publishing
When asked about whether print on demand self-publishing will replace traditional print publishing Teresa gives a smart answer, which is that there is room for everyone in this game but that print publishing may have to change and adapt because of the growth of self-publishing options. I completely agree. Teresa says that the high quality of printing now available along with the low cost options for producing even a small number of books makes self-publishing an increasingly popular choice for books of all kinds. This is true but that doesn’t meant that print publishers are going to disappear; just that they may need to find creative ways to find their place in this shifting landscape.
I recently attended a panel discussion where two indie magazine publishers and a representative from indie book publisher Chronicle Books talked about print books in the digital age, something I found really interesting and definitely relevant to this whole conversation.