Coffee table books to order

I’m very excited about the new publishing opportunities that exist for producing one-off books. Using the latest, short-run colour printing techniques, there are many choices for printing your own, hardcover (or paperback) book, at a price that might surprise you.

Mostly, these are photo books, with a print run in the handfuls. Apple may have started the trend, by linking their iPhoto software to online printing several years ago. The quality, as you might expect from Apple, was excellent. Many other services have sprung up in its wake.

The one I’ve been testing is Blurb, which I believe is headquartered in the U.S., with a Canadian subsidiary. Why Blurb? Because they have multiple tools for creating your book. You can do it online, using their browser-based tool (they call it “Bookify”). Or, in my case, I can design a book using my professional software (Adobe InDesign), giving me full design control. (I like that!) I submit the book to them as a very large, high-res PDF.

The largest project I’ve undertaken with Blurb is a 104-page photo book, documenting my trip to France last fall. It’s a 12” x 12” book, meaning two feet by one foot when opened up – i.e. really big! (Go ahead and click the thumbnails to enlarge.)

These days, we rarely see our photos in print any more, much less printed that large. I had Facebooked and blogged many of my photos since the trip last September. But seeing them in print was still a shock. They felt, well, real, for the first time. Also noticed things I’d never seen before. (The book was a Christmas gift for my wife; she liked it too!)

You can browse a few shots of the book below, but once again – a fleeting onscreen photo doesn’t do it justice. I sent my file off on a Thursday to Blurb. Just over a week later, on Friday, I got my finished book back in the mail. It was magical.

Price? About $100. That’s astounding value, with a hardcover and premium paper. It was manufactured in Richmond, B.C. using Indigo offset printing.

Get in touch if you would like to know more about this technology and the projects that are possible.

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