Until quite recently, it would have been difficult and expensive for you to publish your own physical book, especially one filled with photos.
But thanks to San Francisco-based Blurb, and its on-demand publishing platform, you can do so now for as little as $3.95 for a pocket book to $49.95 for a large, 12 by 12-inch coffee table book.
Founder and CEO Eileen Gittins says she came up with the idea for the company when she sought to publish her own book of photographs eight years ago and couldn’t find a way to do so for less than $10,000.
“I brought together a group of people, and we met in coffee houses all over San Francisco for a year talking about if we were to build a 21st century book publishing platform what would it be?” she recalls. “We knew it would be a technology company and that it would democratize book publishing for the rest of us.”
By mid-2006, Blurb was ready to launch, and its growth since then has been impressive.
“This year we will approach $100 million in revenue; we are profitable," Gittins says. “Last year we published two million units.”
Fifty percent of the company’s business comes from overseas.
“We planned from day one to be a global company,” says Gittins. We ship to multiple countries in multiple currencies.”
The company maintains an office in London as part of its global identity. Current overall workforce size is 127.
It may seem ironic to find a print publisher flourishing at a time that eBooks and digital reading platforms have been growing exponentially, but Gittins has an explanation:
“A digital book is like fast food, whereas a physical book is like slow food, you savor it.”
Blurb marketing exec Claire Halwey adds, “There is so much digital content now that when you bring it back into physical form, it is almost as if it has more value now than it did before. Like a return to the source.”
Using Blurb to put together a photo book is somewhat similar to interfaces like Shutterfly, but easier and much more powerful. You can pull in photos from any source, including Picasa and Flickr, drag and drop them into any one of 500 formats, add design elements with Adobe InDesign, upload the book to Blurb, preview it, and choose among seven trim sizes before ordering it to be printed.
By the way, all of this is free; the company only charges you for the printing.
Most regular consumers print one to three copies of their books, the company says, but they’ve had businesses publish quantities anywhere from 20 up to– in one case–36,000 copies through Blurb.
Catering to the business market, Blurb recently added brochures and magazines to the types of publications you can create on its platform.
If you wish to offer your book or magazine for sale, you may do so in the Blurb marketplace – all of the sales revenue will come to you; Blurb does not take a cut.
Gittins says many people have become “accidental authors” after discovering Blurb. Then she adds with a smile, “This may be the digital age, but we all need a little analog in our lives.”