Blurb book review (II)


blurb blob
Originally uploaded by mikefranklin.
excellent hair and shadow detail/apple
apple detail
Originally uploaded by mikefranklin.

My original blurb book was produced with images exported at 72dpi (the aperture default, which I had neglected to check before exporting).

So I re-exported the images at 180 dpi, and re-created the book as a (cheaper) softcover, and sent it off, hoping that it would just work, and I’d be able to take easy advantage of blurbs prices (less then apple) and various book sizes (more than apple).

Sadly, this second blurb book has problems… but different than the first.

The pixelation and lack of detail problems from the (72dpi) book are gone, but instead the details are often muddy, and there is posterization in a lot of the darker areas: the apple books show nice gradations of detail and color, while the blurb books show a monotone blob. Not really very nice.

I hope this is just a color profile issue, or other easily solvable problem, but so far I’ve printed 6 books with the same photos (1 x apple, 2 x blurb, 2 x mypublisher, 1 x viovio), and Apple has the best quality by far, in the easiest possible way.

Apple is also the most expensive, with the fewest book size options, which is why I’m looking around for alternatives.

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39 Responses to Blurb book review (II)

  1. Samtherocker says:

    😦 That’s a bit disappointing… From the flickr comparisons, there really is a big difference. Maybe you could try proofing your photos in Aperture with a CMYK profile to see if you get similar muddy results when proofing there… if so, you could try to edit a version of each of the photos to look good in that profile and then export with the CMYK profile that you’ve been proofing in… maybe that would work.

    Although, it may be best just to leave out any future tests completely and just buy the apple books 🙂

  2. Mike Franklin says:

    sam- yeah, it was, especially considering they claim “book store quality” on their website 🙂

    Generally, they say not to export in CMYK, perhaps because they always do a conversion to CMYK. not really sure. My understanding is that everyone uses the same printer, so theoretically, they should be able to get the same images.

    I’m hoping (haha) that it’s just a matter of finding the right color profile with which to export the jpegs …

    My problem with Apple books is that they’re expensive, and the book sizes are limited. But yeah, they have the best qualilty with no effort on my part.

  3. Lucy says:

    Hi Mike,
    I found your site by “googling blurb customer service review” since we just ordered a large book for the first time and found printing quality issues (did it seem strangely dark?) as well as some errors in the book. We ordered upgraded shipping and it took a long time (over 10 business days). What color profile do you use on your MacBook? Blurb recommends sRGB, which is what we used. Since then, I have done a custom calibration (which came closer to approximating the printing of the book), but am skeptical about re-ordering another book at the moment. I’d consider Apple but we’d like a larger book. It’s now been 5 days since I contacted them about the problems (got the automated 2-day turnaround email) but have not heard from them yet. We’ve also ordered from MyPublisher and Shutterly and were lest than inspired by both. I’m interested to hear more about your search for the perfect photobook! Lovely photos, by the way.
    -L

  4. Diego says:

    Thanks for your photobook reviews. I’ve been looking for alternatives to Apple’s prices too, and you’ve saved me from experimenting with Mypublisher and the other guys. I like Aperture for its templates, but so far the limited book sizes have been a pain for me. I’d like to get out of the photo album phase myself, but with book self-printing being so expensive and picky, it’s nice that you’re sharing your experiences. I’ll have to check out your Flickr photos too.

  5. Mike Franklin says:

    Lucy – yeah, I’m still waiting to hear back from both blurb and viovio customer service on how I can improve the images to get ones as good as Apple.

    Diego – you’re welcome 🙂 It’s been pretty frustrating – aperture just works… but has limited sizes and is over priced; everyone else has better prices and sizes, but lower quality (on the same printers, from what little I can determine). There are a couple of windows-only apps, as well as a couple of web-only apps (e.g. kodak and lulu, I think), but they don’t seem worth the effort. I hope that Aperure 2.0 has some better book sizes, though I doubt that the prices will change much.

  6. Kenna says:

    I just saw a book done by Snapfish (hp) it was great but the program to create the book was very limited. I am about to try blurb wish me luck………………

  7. Brandon says:

    I am also waiting on a customer service issue with them. They sent a book to me, UPS couldn’t find the address and returned the book to Blurb. So Blurb decided not to contact me about this and kept the book and still charged my card. So I am disputing the charge because I can’t get in touch with Blurb. What kind of company doesn’t have a customer support number.

  8. Brandon says:

    Blurb.com phone number: (415) 362-2067

  9. Gemma Garner says:

    I’m having issues with blurb too. I ordered a book, UPS arrived, I opened it and they had sent me someone elses book! So I contacted them and I was given an incident number and was told to attach a photo of the book I had received, so that they could resolve the issue (!?!?!?!). When I try to do this it tells me that I need to update my contact details, not a valid email etc etc. So now I am back at stage 1: online form because they have no customer service line. They are useless. I tried the number above but it didn’t work. Blurb are poo!

  10. Adam Parker says:

    Thanks for the writeup. I was lucky to only have a few minor print issues with blurb, but the price and overall quality were great for me. At times I wish I knew more about printing, but I think that if I did I would be disappointed more often. Even then though, I think that $85 for 140 pages at 13″x11″ I wouldn’t be too picky.

    And I did an apple book a few years ago and the quality wasn’t nearly as good as what blurb produced, however I would hope that apple has upgraded their printing technology in the past 4 years.

    I have pictures and details on the blurb book, including mistakes, here:
    http://www.4tay.com/blogs/Adam_Parker/Blurb_Italy_book_has_arrived/1/1/692

  11. bjhb44 says:

    How did you change the export default from 72dpi to 180dpi? Did you export as pdf or jpg? I would like to export 300dpi.

    (quote below)

    My original blurb book was produced with images exported at 72dpi (the aperture default, which I had neglected to check before exporting).

    So I re-exported the images at 180 dpi, and re-created the book as a (cheaper) softcover, and sent it off, hoping that it would just work, and I’d be able to take easy advantage of blurbs prices (less then apple) and various book sizes (more than apple).

  12. Denise says:

    I also just made a book with Blurb. I wanted to try a small softcover project to test their quality before I put tons of hours into something. I must say I was soooooooo disappointed! I chose to not make my pages in Photoshop, but do them directly in their program to see the “virgin” quality. My images are from a 10MP DSLR with each photo being about 2-3 MB each, so the input quality was fine. Their output was dark, grainy, oversaturated photos. I was floored. I’ve heard such glowing reviews that I couldn’t believe it. I contacted Blurb and they offered to remake the book for me, indicating that they can only keep prices so low by not recalibrating the printer after each book. They figured mine was one of the 3% of books that were toward the end of the run. So, they sent me another book and it was the same. What a disappointment.

    The main company I use is Creative Memories for my photobooks since the quality is superb and the pages are sewn, not glued to the spine. The Storybook Creator software is easy and scrapbook papers and elements are beautiful. I haven’t seen that in any other company. Most of the companies are within a few dollars of CM, except for Blurb and Viovio (still waiting for the Viovio album to arrive.)

    I have a full Excel spreadsheet comparing companies if anyone wants.

    I’ve made 3 gift books from MyPublisher (I got 2 for free–good promo!) where I inserted my Creative Memories Storybook Creator layouts into full bleed pages and they came out beautifully. Since they are in my state, I received them 2 days after placing the order. That was nice!

    So, now I guess I wait to see how the VioVio book comes out for a less expensive alternative for gifts and such. Any reviews on VioVio?

    • Guaira says:

      Can you please send me the comparison info? I am done dealing with Blurb (I just added to this page a comment about my experience)
      Thanks!

    • beth says:

      Hi Denise, Thanks for the helpful review.
      What is your choice of company for books now that you have done all your research?

  13. Denise says:

    Update on Blurb and VioVio

    Just received viovio photobook-softcover-20 pages. The cover is glossy and beautiful. BUT 2 small white spots and obvious posterization on one of the faces. Interior pages are not impressive. Lots of posterization making the faces look kind of dirty. Also some yellowish tinge on the faces on a page with a pale yellow background. Ugh. Side by side comparison with the MyPublisher book (same images) and the color is much better with MyPublisher.

    Blurb is raising their prices tomorrow. This is the new rate table http://blurberatiblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/05/pricesheet_normal_0805_justtable.pdf

  14. Aruna says:

    I got my first book from Blurb, a softcover and a hardcover with jacket and absolutly love it.

    I am a photographer and I usually do my printing at home, with a high quality deskjet printer and a caliberated monitor. Blub print quality is not comparable to high quality photo prints, but the finish is ace, not to mention the price I paid.

    Before I read about Blurb, I tried SharedInk and I should say the print quality is a bit better than Blurb, but the finish was NOT there. I ordered from Ottawa, Canada and the shipping took less than a week.

    The only complain I would have is the dustjacket was not folded/aligned properly. I wish they would iron-out these minor problems as I am going to stick with them for quite a while.

    Also, I did not see a ISBN print at the end page, did they get rid of it, not sure? I was expecting the ISBN to be printed.

  15. Jonnyfez says:

    Im fed up with Blurb too. I uploaded a book and ordered it 10 days ago and it still hasnt been printed let alone despatched. Because Im in the UK I am expecting a long wait for shipping which means that the time from order to receipt will be too long.

    I have since uploaded a new book and ordered it only to notice that the page numbering has been reset by the Blurb software from what I set it to. I did a photobook with a contents page and I reset the pagination to start at page one from the first photo in the software which it did. I checked it. But in the uploaded and ordered book, the pagination has changed back to what it was so the contetnts page is totally wrong.

    I have emailed Blurb to try to cancel although their policy says that once the order has been made you cant cancel…eben though it sits doing nothing in a queue for 10 days.

    I spent ages putting the book together. The software is poor and glitchy, particularly the text editing where you have to keep resetting your typeface and size.

    I was looking forward to getting some photo books from Blurb, but since these problems and having read this forum and others, I just think that they are a sub-standard company.

    To be honest, I spent so much time proof resding the book that when I finally uploaded it I made the error of not proof reading it AGAIN (like you should need to) before ordering and therefore did not spot that between me saving the final book and placing my order, Blurb had taken it upon itself to alter my page numbering for me.

    Very poor..and I still havent received anything from them yet..

  16. rebecca says:

    I am having problems with Blurb as well. I created a book for my boyfriend’s surprise 30th birthday party with photos from when he was born until now. i had serious problems trying to upload my book and they only referred me to their website. When I finally got it to work, I had to order it second day to get here in time. When I never received it, I tracked my order and it said it would take 9 days. That is hardly second day and after the 3-5 business days. I have still yet to hear from blurb and the book has missed the party. I never would have paid the extra money or have ordered it if I could not have the book in time. Very mad…

  17. April says:

    Blurb is terrible. And their customer support is horrible. It seems there are a lot of cheap bad photo book makers …. and really really good expensive ones. I’d just like one in the middle. A normal good book. Not one that is terrible or super.

    By super i mean asuka … which is really expensive …..

    If anybody knows the best place to do a book like that let me know e-mail me lol

  18. Pasha says:

    Well I can top all of you! I spent hours and days creating a wedding photo book through Blurb for one of my best friends weddings. It was supposed to be a surprise Christmas gift for her and her husband. Well I received my book today and the cover was just like it looked in the preview and it looked fine. So I was excited to see the rest…..to my surprise when I opened it the title said “Brideghampton 2008” I don’t know anyone in Bridgehampton so I kept looking and there were pictures of people I had never seen before in my life!!! Pissed off is not the word to describe. Then what’s with the garbage customer service……no contact number?? Who does that in this day and age? It makes me furious that I can’t speak directly to someone and since I received it on a Friday, im probably going to have to wait the rest of the weekend before I even get an “Email” response. I am completely turned off from Blurb, but I will try to keep you posted on the resolution “They Are Going To Give Me!” Should of stuck with Apple except they don’t offer good enough book sizes I think I will write to them….excuse me, “Email” them.

  19. Krisalis says:

    HORRIBLE HORRIBLE experience with Blurb. After spending days and days working on a project for a Christmas present, the files failed to open. “Customer service” and “technical support” got back to me A WEEK AND A HALF LATER and “helped” me to recover only about half of what I had worked on.

    Then, my “estimated ship date” is not until December 30 (uh, when is Christmas again?) Stress, waste of time, horrible HORRIBLE service. Unacceptable.

  20. Pasha says:

    I think we should sue Blurb for false advertisement!!!! I still haven’t received my book and have received several emails stating that my book has shipped a shipping tracking number, then another email staing that they had a processing delay and my book was on hold??????? Didn’t I just get an email with a shipping confirmation??? What a joke this company is and I should have known not to use a company that has no contact number, I will stick to apple iphoto books like I should have in the first place. The limited sizes are sooo worth the hassle of Blurb that I have experienced thus far. Is there a management contact for Blurb? Does anyone know? If I don’t get my book soon I will be filing a complaint with the better business bureau and FTC Bureau of Consumer Affairs……anyone want to join me? This type of service really pisses me of and I can’t stand nor will I tolerate incompetence. http://www.dca.ca.gov that is the website for California Consumer Affairs since that is where the idiots are located.

  21. Dan says:

    Blurb.com is a joke. I ordered large format books of all of black and white photographs and most of the photographs in the books i received have large pink and light purple blotches on the photographs. The quality is very bad. Also, I ordered premium paper and it does not look like they were printed on premium paper. I would not show these books to anyone.

    I was trying to get final draft of this book so that I can order 300 copies, but I continue to encounter major quality problems with Blurb.

    I am returning these books and removing the charge from my credit card.

  22. Michelle says:

    Add me to the list of pissed off people. I made my book as a guest book for my upcoming wedding. I previewed the book 10 times in their crappy software and everything was FINE. When the book came in, 85% of the pictures were just black squares. I was floored when I realized there was no phone number! I agree, who does that for customer service? I emailed back and forth with a woman who was rude and kept putting the blame on me, telling me the preview would have shown the pictures as black. IT DIDN’T! She also told me to plan better for personal deadlines. She was rude and unprofessional. I’m waiting for my reprinted book and am praying it gets to me in time for my wedding, which is in a week and a half. We’ll see

  23. Jonathan says:

    Blurb cares little about quality!!! I doubt if they even check the quality before they ship it.

    I have ordered now 6 books, and they had to replace 3. Go figure. 50% is pretty bad!

    The latest problem (which they don’t even want to rectify with a replacement book) is their extremely tight binding so I lose a good inch of my photos and the book is hard to open. Obviously way too tight

    I am now very keen to try another company.

  24. Gary says:

    I agree. The Blurb books are lately very very tight. I don’t like that at all and have stopped using Blurb. For full page photos you lose almost half an inch due to their tight binding and its hard to page through the book.

  25. Nicole says:

    I purchased a book of 110 pages. I liked the blurb software and liked all the options they provided. I am extremely disappointed with their customer service. There is no contact number on my invoice and my book came damaged. A torn corner sleeve and 50 plus pages of bent up corner pages. The book was a gift for our photography teacher who spent hundreds of hours teaching students about photography and environmental awareness and it was his end of the year gift. It has been almost two weeks and no one at Blurb has responded or replaced my book. I sent pictures from my iphone with in the hour I opened and received my book. It cost me $115 dollars for a damaged book! I would never recommend them to anyone. It is very strange to have no phone contact on their website or on their invoice. Two Thumbs down as a dependable service! I plan to file a complaint with the better business bureau and the Action Line.

    Nicole

  26. Mus says:

    The blurb software is so crap. An absolute nightmare to use.And now when i try to publish the book it doesnt work, after all the hours iv spent formatting my book i cant even buy it. anyone else having this problem?

  27. Caroline says:

    I am right there with you all. I just spent $1,500 on 50 books that I needed on a tight deadline; I am a photographer and pretty savvy at making books (have made with MyPublisher and Apple) and felt the printer version was very high quality and expected better from final copy. WRONG. VERY DARK, cut off 1/4 inch on the inside pages on full bleed, no phone number, takes 48 hours to respond. I wrote and actually BEGGED them to pick up the phone and call me so we could discuss and I got a response from Mike saying “we do not currently offer phone support.” I imagine this is two guys with no office outsourcing printing with no quality oversight. never again. A waste of money. These books were for a Charitable Event so I gave them out anyway and then remade the order with MyPublisher. The quality difference is night and day. Blurb’s customer service is so bad…..they didn’t offer anything and told me to mail the books back and they would “make a determination”. I can print outstanding photos but they can’t print anything even remotely close, even though I ordered premium paper. I am reporting to BBB.

  28. Guaira says:

    I agree with the folks that express dissatisfaction with Blurb. I just created a book of one of my daughter’s collage stories, and ordered one copy: looked great. Got excited and ordered 10 copies: looked great too, and friends, family and co-workers all wanted one. When I ran out of the 10 copies, I ordered 10 more. YIKES! Should’ve read the comments on this page earlier and counted myself lucky to get 11 copies that were not messed up. These last 10 copies are terribly finished, with the hard cover improperly glued to the body of the book (the white paper that glues onto the hard cover–front and back–is full of bubles, as if my 4 year old had glued it). Contacted customer support and they were very nice, and agreed to send me a new set… and asked me to return the deffective ones to them! HUH?! What are they going to do with them? It makes me feel that, even though I sent them photos of the issue, they do not believe me. Also, it is the first time EVER that when ordering something that is custom-made, and having an issue, I am asked to return it to the seller/manufacturer. It is just a TERRIBLE policy. Makes the company look cheap and distrustful of its customers. Plus, even though they will–in theory–be sending me a UPS label to pay for the shipping, who is paying for my time to take the darn box of books to the UPS store?!
    That’s it for me, I will NEVER do business with Blurb again. I will start looking into the services listed in this page (thanks everyone who has listed one!)

  29. Manal Ali says:

    Hello!

    I had found out before printing the book that my resolution had to be 300dpi for a good quality photo. I then checked the resolutions of the images I had uploaded which were 72dpi. I then had to delete all the images uploaded, and start from scratch with the original files which were 300dpi. Printing below this doesn’t give good results at all, so I am not surprised at the book.

    Sorry to hear that your experience with Blurb was not satisfactory, hopefully my next experience will be. I’ll also make sure to order from Apple!

    Thanks for the review and information!

    I have also written a review here:
    http://www.squidoo.com/blurbreview

  30. Manal Ali says:

    I had found out before printing the book that my resolution had to be 300dpi for a good quality photo. I then checked the resolutions of the images I had uploaded which were 72dpi. I then had to delete all the images uploaded, and start from scratch with the original files which were 300dpi. Printing below this doesn’t give good results at all, so I am not surprised at the book.

    Sorry to hear that your experience with Blurb was not satisfactory, hopefully my next experience will be. I’ll also make sure to order from Apple!

    Thanks for the review and information!

  31. Joe Campana says:

    Wow!! Finding out about this site is somewhat a relief to know I’m not alone out there fighting with blurb, but a disappointment at the same time to learn about the terrible performance of this publishing company after the fact. Not only one cannot speak to anyone about an issue, but even the incredibly standoffish emailing correspondence is hard to accept.

    I too had the experience this very past Christmas of one of the several books I ordered come with the appropriate jacket, but with inside pictures from another wedding! It’s already hard enough to photograph your son’s wedding! And now this problem. And yes, I’m still trying to resolve the issue, but do not expect to go very far with it.

    You Americans should all complain with dca.ca.gov/ about this unbelievable company. I tried, but everything is set up for US citizens only, so for us Canadians there is no recourse.

    Thanks to all those who have made suggestions about other companies, some of them obviously popular for the quality of their work.

    Cheers and good luck!

  32. Joe Campana says:

    By the way I forgot to mention, if you people do not already know, that the printing of blurb books seems to be done by Reischling Press from Seattle, WA.
    The phone number there is 206.443.1515.

    I do not know why I received a “Commercial Invoice” with the books from Reischling.

    Do not know if the above info. is of any use.

    Cheers.

  33. Joe Campana says:

    Info about blurb.com

    Contact
    Chad Jennings
    cjennings@blurb.com
    Company Address
    88 Kearny St, Suite 1610
    San Francisco, CA 94108
    Primary Phone
    415-362-2067
    Primary Fax
    415-362-2078
    URL
    http://www.blurb.com
    Corporate Officers
    Eileen Gittins, CEO & Founder; Dr. Dan Crow, CTO; Pete Wheelan, COO; Bruce Watermann, Vice President, Print Operations

  34. ingrid says:

    Hi there, I realize that this review was done some time ago, but I would like to offer you a book from our company, AdoramaPix, to compare to your Blurb book. I think you will find that our quality is far above Blurb’s and that our online book creation program is inuitive and easy to use. Please contact me at ingridspangler@adorama.com and let me know if you would like to take me up on this offer.

    Thanks,

    Ingrid Spangler
    Marketing, AdoramaPix.

  35. Trevor Taylor says:

    I wrote a 107-page book for my father’s 70th birthday. I ordered a proof copy on Dec 15. I received the proof copy in very short order and it looked great. I used it to make many changes and adjustments and ordered 2 copies for my dad’s birthday on Jan 15.

    I noticed a page didn’t upload into the “book preview” even though it showed in Booksmart. I emailed customer support but they confirmed the file uploaded and it should be fine. It wasn’t both books printed without page 99.

    After emailing customer support I was offered a free reprint. That reprint was horrendous. Streaks and smudges throughout both books. At this point the months of work were ruined as I had no book to give my dad on his birthday – despite my leaving enough to go through 2 prints!

    The “customer service” (what a joke!) agent Michael, offered to have someone inspect the book to be sure it printed correctly. Well apparently the inspectors snapped the binding of both books at page 2. So once I again I emailed and sent photos. After many days (more time to respond to my emails than to print and mail the proof book I might add), Michael responded something about a lay-flat book and how they wouldn’t reprint since I couldn’t be satisfied!

    I don’t know what a lay-flat book is but I just want the book I ordered to be printed and shipped with all the pages their, no printing errors and the binding in-tact.

    I would definitely recommend you look somewhere else as you can’t reach anyone from Blurb. They hide behind their email/live support chat. Save your money and you memories for a company who delivers what they offer!

    PS – I have the entire thread of emails and the pics of my book if anyone is interested:
    newt_dunbarton@hotmail.com

  36. Ed says:

    DO NOT USE THIS COMPANY! Blurb was recommended to me through the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. First book they printed was great, the next three orders each book was printed differently in terms of color,value and contrast. Customer service not interested. I have worked with professional printers for over 30 years and know a little about the process…Blurb seems to have no quality control and certainly no interest in assuring consistent print quality. What a disappointment.

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