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Ross Harper 11:01pm, 28 January 2010
Well, my first Blurb book arrived yesterday and I've just finished checking it over. 104 pages of premium paper in a 10x8 landscape format with imagewrap cover:

My Blurb Book Arrived...

My first impressions: I absolutely love it. I was blown away by it. Seeing it in its shrink-wrap for the first time was very exciting.

Blurb Book Shrink Wrapped

I opened it and had a quick flick through and was really happy with how it came out. The quality exceeds my expectations.

I found a few of my own mistakes that slipped through my on-screen proof-reading (follow Blurb's advice and print a local copy for reading!). This doesn't matter too much. I had intended on the first copy being used on the coffee table and passed around friends and family. I'll order a second copy for archival (probably in hardcover with dust jacket -- see below).

I had a few concerns when ordering. I had read so much about Blurb books, especially here on Flickr. The resounding theme seemed to be that the quality control can be hit-or-miss but that Blurb's customer service was excellent and always sorted the issue.

My take on a few specifics:

Premium Paper
Some said they loved it; some said it was pointless. I haven't personally experienced the standard paper, but the premium paper is fantastic. It has a quality feel to it. The print quality is really good. Even my crappy pictures look like they belong in print.

ImageWrap
I love the way this looks. However, like others, mine is a bit scuffed -- as if the handler didn't take care when packing it. They are nothing serious, no proper scratches, but not "brand-new-perfect". The print is not quite as vibrant as the normal pages but I'm very happy with the way it looks. The main issue with my imagewrap is that in the gulley by the spine, on the front, it is already creasing, where some laminate layer is separating from the surface (I've only read the book from front-to-back once). I think I'll try hard cover with dust jacket next time.

Gutters
I was worried about how close I could get my content to the gutters. Not knowing how much of an effect different page counts would have on the binding and gutter depth was a concern. There was some advice on Blurb's site that suggested you are fine as long as you observe the guidelines in the software. Other posters on here gave suggested minimums (I can't remember the numbers off the top of my head). Anyway, all of my pages were within these limits in the software, and the printed version is very good. All of my content is easily visible. I think I could have worked right up to the guidelines in the software and been ok.

Black Pages
Some people have mentioned that black pages have "white speckles" and the consensus seems to be that this is caused by dust/paper particles when printing. Well, I don't have this issue. Either I got lucky, or Blurb's printing partner has upped their game. All my pages are black and they are all perfect. I was worried that my small(ish) white text would be difficult to read -- it is not, the definition of the text is excellent. I really like the look of my book with black pages very much.

Blurb Book Spread

The BookSmart software was pretty good, if a little quirky and crashy at times (I never lost more than a sentence or two if it crashed -- the autosave seems good). Uploading and ordering was seamless. It arrived a couple of days before the projection.

Overall, I am very pleased with my book. It is amazing. A lot of work went into it and I am feeling very happy and rewarded with the results.

Thank you, Blurb. I look forward to ordering with you again.

A Happy Customer.

Update:
Today I received my book with my content corrections as a hardback with dust jacket. Upon my first quick glance it is absolutely perfect. The cover has a lovely gloss and has no scuffs whatsoever. I am very pleased with this version of my book.
Lisa Ouellette 12 years ago
Thank you for this. I've been on the fence with producing my own family's photo book. This helps to support my intention to go with Blurb.
Raggedy Anne. 12 years ago
Please dont order the standard paper. I have 2 portfolio books, 1 with standard, and the other with premium. They are both 80 page 11 x 13 inches. The premium paper is sooooo much better. Obviously the whole book is thicker, aswel, but each page is a lot nicer to touch. If you have white pages,, the standard is actually see-through, where the premium is not. Being such a large size.....11 x 13, i found the pages to be very thin indeed when turning the pages over, i also have a standard page 10 x 8 book, and this doenst seem to be an issue on that size. But for the extra few pounds, its definately worth getting the upgrade.
image freak 12 years ago
Yes, mistakes happen and proof reading over and over doesn't always catch the typos. I now leave adding text to the very end and run it through MS Word first to catch them.

Your book looks the business by the way.
newfoundlander61 12 years ago
Good review, I am planning on doing my first book about nature and this helps for sure. Proof read I will do and get someone else to check also, great tip.
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