Using’s Booksmart to make a photo book

I just sent off my Apple/Aperture book, so decided to make the same book (more or less) with blurb.

I exported the photos in my Aperture book (browser: show unplaced photos. select all. show all photos. invert selection. export.), and imported into the blurb app, Booksmart.

Booksmart provides a variety of page templates, categorized by page type (cover, table of contents, etc.). Any template may be used on any page, and there’s quite a decent selection. But unlike Aperture, there’s no way to modify the proportion of the image spaces, or to move the images and text around on the page.

And the end page is fixed – it’s blank except for a small image at the bottom.

Booksmart does have two features missing from Aperture: a pair of textboxes for the spine of the book, and the ability to add photos and text to the dust jacket flaps (though perhaps I had no flaps in my Aperture book).

I realized I made the wrong book type (square rather then rectangular). In Aperture, I just selected a new book type, and the photos reflowed (though not always correctly). In booksmart, I need to close my book, click ‘open existing book’, select the old book, click Delete, then start a new book and import the photos again. Rather tedious.

And while it looks like the “start a new book” is highlighted … I have to click it to proceed. Twice I’ve hit the button which would be where “OK” normally is, except it’s the “quit booksmart” button. Rather annoying.

Moving photos around is easy – as in Aperture, Booksmart will swap photos on a page, and there are decent controls for zooming and and centering/no cropping photos. But I’ve run into another dilemma. Aperture allows a photo to be spread across two pages. Booksmart does not. Now, I have find another photo in Aperture, export and import into booksmart. Any editing follows the same steps: find in Aperture, edit, export, reimport into Booksmart. Oh, and the import progress window is devoid of any text, having only a progress bar.

Preview mode: sort of like the PDF generated by Aperture, but not quite. Arrow keys don’t work to move between images, nor does the scroll ball. Fortunately, I can click on the page arrows. PDF file size in aperture was about 32mb; it’s about the same for the “book upload” to blurb.

Overall, it was more complicated and less flexible with Booksmart than with Aperture. Unless there’s a stunning difference in image quality, I’ll certainly use Aperture over Booksmart, despite the additional expense.

This entry was posted in apple, blurb, photobook, photography, review. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Using’s Booksmart to make a photo book

  1. Jon Michaeli says:

    Hi there –
    Very soon there will be another option – Panraven ( The company is still in private beta, but if you email us at and would like to try us out, we’ll send you a beta code.

    We look forward to hearing from you.

    Jon Michaeli
    VP, Consumer Marketing

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