Before My Time is about the ancestry and extended family of my four grandparents: John Samuel Krentz (Indiana/North Dakota), Margreta Tjode Hedwig (Gertie) Buss (North Dakota), Rosmer Pettis Kerr (Pennsylvania/Michigan), and Evelyn Elvina Hauer (Michigan), and other topics in genealogy and family history.

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Monday, February 07, 2011

Blurb Anyway?

Back in the pre-cellular day, when your phone had to plug into a phone jack in the wall, a dear friend of mine bought herself a new telephone. One could expect, back then, that such a product would last for years, but only minutes after the 90-day warranty expired, so did the phone. She was really annoyed that she had to go out and buy another phone, and rightly so. But when I asked her what kind she got to replace the bad one, she replied, "The same thing."

Honestly, I just wanted to slap her upside the head! "You vote with your dollars," I told her. "You just voted in favor of poorly made telephones!"

It's true, you know. Every time you buy something, you're casting a consumer vote for that product in favor of others that you might have chosen instead. And you know what they say: fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. In other words, you need to learn from your mistakes. A bad purchase, like any mistake, is redeemed when it's understood. Caveat emptor.

I'm sure I've flaunted enough cliches to make my point. Are you wondering how this applies to today's topic? Yesterday I posted about a disappointing result I had with a Blurb book order. Today I want to talk about why I'm not abandoning the Blurbarian ship just yet.

If you have a look at Jason Dunn's in-depth comparison of POD publishers or click around in this Photo Book Review, you'll discover how many factors go into your decision when choosing a POD publisher. As Heather pointed out in yesterday's comments, no one is perfect, and that certainly applies here. There is no "one perfect POD publisher," as every one offers a different set of features from which to choose. Your job as a consumer is to discover which features are most important to you. You'll have to consider things like cost-to-value ratio, what skills you bring to your project or what skills you're willing to learn, how much time you want to spend on your project, how many pages you'll need to present your material and whether it consists of photos, text, or both.

One of the things I love about Blurb is their pricing structure. Unlike many other POD publishers, you don't start with a fixed number of pages (usually 20) for a base price, and then add $1 per page for additional pages (a 'page' means 'one side of a page', not both sides). Instead, Blurb prices in increments: 20-40 pages, 41-80 pages, 81-120 pages, and so on up to a maximum of 440 pages. Psychologically, I find this very freeing when it comes to designing a book. What's more, the cost of, say, a hundred-page book ends up being considerably less expensive at Blurb than at the other POD publishers I've considered. The 120-page book about my mom, for example, at a base price of $30 for 20 pages plus $1 per page for the next 100 pages, would have been $130 using that pricing structure, but at Blurb it was about $42. That, for me, is the difference between can-do and no-can-do.

Also, many POD publishers have a page-limit much smaller than Blurb's. My Publisher, for example, limits you to 100 pages. I love that Blurb allows for a much longer book, and that it is not just a publisher of photo-books that you can add some text to. You can do much more than that with Blurb's free BookSmart software--from creating a text-based book with no photos to a photo book with no text, and everything in between. If there isn't a template for the way you want to lay out your page, you can easily create your own layout. You can even save it as a custom layout, and select it from the layout menu if you want to use it again.

Using BookSmart, your project lives on your computer until it's finished. Then you upload it to Blurb for printing. Thus you don't have to be on the internet to work on it. On the other hand, there's definitely a learning curve to consider. BookSmart offers a lot of control, but it's a little quirky. If you're just hoping to make one simple photo book, you may not want to invest the time on learning how to use it. (Blurb recently added an online book creation tool, Bookify, which may be simpler to use if you haven't already learned BookSmart, but it offers less control. Having learned BookSmart first, I have a strong preference for that.)

Tomorrow: A bit about my current Blurb project, and some thoughts about pricing your book for sale to the public.

By the way, in case you're wondering, I am not affiliated with in any way except as a customer, and I receive nothing from them for sharing my thoughts.


You can read some user feedback on at Olive Tree Genealogy, and Cheryl Palmer has answered some questions about her experience with Blog2Print at Heritage Happens.


Cheryl said...

You made some great points here, TK, and for one who has seen your finished "Mom" book, I will say that it was excellent. I have it by my recliner and am reading it again.

T.K. said...

Aw, thanks, Cheryl. (I'll pay ya off for that next week, eh?)

Cheryl Palmer said...

Thank you for the mention of my post T.K. I am anxious to read about your current project and I look forward to checking out Blurb when I am in need of a different type book than one of my blog!

T.K. said...

You're welcome, Cheryl, and thank you for adding to the info available about various POD publishers. There are so many choices, and it seems like more all the time. Customer reviews are a big help, especially when you know the reviewer is a real person and not the POD publisher's mother!

Blog Archive


Our Family in Books: A Bibliography

  • My Ancestors in Books (a library of resources and notes pertaining to Reverend Samuel Stone, Major General Robert Sedgwick, Elder John Crandall, and other early Americans in the forest where my family tree was grown)
  • The Zahnisers: A History of the Family in America by Kate M. Zahniser and Charles Reed Zahniser (Mercer, Pa. 1906)
  • History of St. James Lutheran Church [full title: A little of this and a little of that in the 141 year (1861-2002) History of St. James Lutheran Church, Reynolds Indiana] by Harold B. Dodge, published at Reynolds, Indiana, 2002; 170 pages.
  • Lisbon, North Dakota 1880-2005 Quasuicentennial, published at Lisbon, North Dakota in 2005; 391 pages.
  • The Paschen and Redd Families of Cass County, Indiana by Alfred Paschen, c. 2005 (Gateway Press, Inc., Baltimore, MD); 322 pages.
  • Sheldon Community History: Sheldon Centennial 1881-1981, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 1981; 376 pages.
  • Sheldon, North Dakota 1881-2006 - 125th Anniversary: The Queen of the Prairie, published at Sheldon, North Dakota in 2006; 498 pages.
  • A Standard History of White County, Indiana, written under the supervision of W.H. Hamelle, c. 1915 (The Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago and New York).
  • The Roots of Coventry, Connecticut by Betty Brook Messier and Janet Sutherland Aronson, c. 1987 (Coventry 275th Anniversary Committee, Coventry, CT); 206 pages.
  • "Elder John Crandall of Rhode Island and His Descendants" by John Cortland Crandall; New Woodstock, New York, 1949; 797 pages.
  • "The Descendants of Robert Burdick of Rhode Island." Nellie (Willard) Johnson, Pd.B.: H & L Creations, LLC.

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