Blurb, the online book publisher, is running the third annual Photography Book Now competition. This is an international juried event with a first prize of $25,000, awarded to a book of photographs self-published on one of the online print-on-demand publishers. Self-publishing has risen in status due to developments in printing technology and many people who would never expect to be published can now have books of high quality printed at reasonable cost.
The economics of online printing are the opposite of traditional offset printing. A single copy of a full colour book of photographs printed online might cost $70. The same book printed in offset, the way almost all retail books are printed, will cost many thousands of dollars just to set up. The design, printing and binding of online are not as good as mainstream publishing but are still of a high standard. If you only need a few copies and don’t have the public profile to be published mainstream, online printing becomes attractive.
American Photo magazine ran a survey of these online services last year, looking at Blurb, Lulu, Asuka, Apple, Embassy Pro Books, Mypublisher Fastback Creative Books. It found there they all offered there own special angle on self-publishing but all offered a good service. I’ve used Blurb to produce a couple of photographic books. It comes with book design software called Booksmart as a free download and allows you to design your book using various templates. It works well although it’s not like having a real designer do the job. You can see the draft version of my new book Big Heads on the Blurb site.