Since its launch in 2006, Blurb, the independent publishing pioneer of print-on-demand artistic tabletop tomes and illustrated magazines, has been popular with the creative community.
Blurb’s platform, which hooks into apps like Adobe InDesign and Lightroom, lets artists and photographers plus a wide variety of others, create a printed showcase for their visual works.
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First, Blurb is inaugurating three new trade book sizes – 5×8, 6×9 and 8×10 – complete with lower-cost, text-weight, uncoated paper. Second, it has announced a global retail distribution collaboration with Ingram Content Group to make those new books available to some 39,000 online and retail stores worldwide.
Finally, Blurb has announced a beta program that supports the import of rich text (RTF format from word processing apps) and reflowable output for Amazon Kindle devices and most e-readers. This feature updates BookWright, Blurb’s bookmaking desktop app, by allowing authors to import text files created with word processing software. This service is free to Blurb authors during the beta period.
Essentially, this means that Blurb authors can now publish digital and print formats from a single file, output to Amazon Kindle, sell on Blurb.com, and be available via Ingram.
“In the past, Blurb concentrated on photo paper designed color books. Now we’re really focusing in on trade books,” Eileen Gittins, founder and CEO of Blurb, told TNW.
“We have reduced the price of these books significantly; they’re something like 40 percent less expensive than our previous trade book line. Now the authors have a lot more room to play with in terms of their margin, while still keeping their retail price decent.”
The new trade book sizes — which can be both hard and soft cover — support content like drawings, photographs, maps and tables that are typically seen in cookbooks, novels, magazines, photo books, business books and graphic novels. These are the ones specifically covered by the Ingram deal.
Authors have two print options for the new sizes: economy and standard. Economy printing offers a lower print-on-demand starting price ($2.99 for color; $2.49 for black and white), while Standard printing features a wider color range and richer blacks.
Recently, Blurb partnered with Amazon to sell and distribute high-quality photo books produced and designed by Blurb authors. To facilitate that, Blurb introduced BookWright, a design tool that lets authors design and publish both print and ebooks from the same file at the same time.
Blurb also offers a personal storefront, essentially a widget that anyone can place on their Website or blog to help authors publicize and sell their books. Powered by Blurb on the back end, viewers can view, comment, share, or click a button to download a book from anywhere.
Gittins also mentioned in passing that Blurb is exploring ways to enlist third parties to help authors get short term financing for larger print runs. “Instead of having books printed on demand one at a time, what if you bought 500 copies — how could we help you finance the cost of that print run,” Gittins said. Stay tuned.