After taking two years off from doing inconsistently printed "Print on Demand" books I thought I'd give Blurb another shot. I figured that since they have these art photo book contests and have started their "B3" professional program that maybe their quality control improved? But what convinced me to really try them again is that now they can accept InDesign PDF files and I don't have to use their lame BookSmart software which required me to turn my layouts into single page PDFs and convert them into JPGs to place into BookSmart. That old workflow was misery.
So I took my RGB and Greyscale PSD files and converted their profiles to the newly provided Blurb CMYK profiles -- Built my InDesign document -- Exported to PDF per their settings -- and sent it all off online, about $75 for an 80-page image wrap hardcover with premium paper.
A little over a week later (I chose overnight shipping) I got a handsomely bound and produced book. The premium paper was still thin so I hate to suggest using the house stock. Color images looked nice and saturated, almost loud, but really quite nice for digital printing. And the greyscale images (printed in CMYK of course) looked amazingly good, punchy, nice blacks, very neutral. Until I got to the back of the book and some of the images started to look bronze/sepia. I checked the original CMYK files and there is no difference between them and the more neutral files, they were all prepped exactly the same.
So... they are still inconsistent. I have a compliant filed and am waiting to hear back whether they consider this a normal amount of variation or not? It's still not a bad looking book, and the differences are amplified when viewed under daylight or tungsten -- under flourescents and in shade the differences are minimal.
It's a shame because the book was finished quite nicely. If I shot nothing but color I would be all over Blurb like mad. I may end up submitting toned CMYK files (apply a subtle Hue/Saturation "Colorize" command to every neutral image) if they can't resolve this to my satisfaction.
Note that the professional, higher quality control B3 option is not available for the PDF to Book workflow that I used. I guess they expect professionals to use BookSmart.... hahaha NO.
I have another book in progress and am talking to their tech support. If they make good and make me a couple of consistent books then I will sing their praises. I want to like Blurb and I sure don't want to have to spend $300 for one of the boutique PODI printers.
Oh and if you are brave (or crazy) you can buy my book at Blurb here:
It's way overpriced at $72 for a 160-page 8x10 book so if you do buy one, please don't tell me because I'll figure you're a stalker or something. Sane people wouldn't pay that much.