Thursday, May 7, 2015

Why would I self publish a photo book?

I am an artist whose medium is photography.  I print my own pictures, and I mat and frame them myself.  I compulsively exercise full control over the final product that hangs on the wall.  I try to carefully craft my work.  I am my own primary audience and critic.  I don't seek widespread dissemination or acceptance by appealing to popular tastes, fads, interests or market trends.  I don't rely on the sale of my work for my income.

Why would I surrender a collection of my images to an anonymous publisher for reproduction?

I recently self published a couple of books using Blurb.  These were my first serious attempts to create a book.  I didn't do it to for customer sales.  The cost for these books is too high to appeal to a general audience.  Approaching $1.00 per printed page, only the author and perhaps a few close friends and family members would seriously consider such a purchase.  I published these books through Blurb because this was a viable alternative to printing each image and mounting them into a quality album.  I consider these books presentation pieces.

I was seeking the most convenient way to display a coherent collection of images in a compact and tasteful package.  Blurb offers a way to do that in the format of a book.

Here are the advantages I discovered when I used an online publisher:

  • Ease and convenience ... In my version of Lightroom there is a mode for creation and layout of a book.  I simply selected the images, moved them around into the order I wanted them printed, decided how they would lay on the pages, and made a variety of design decisions including how I wanted the binding to look.
  • Decent paper with high resolution reproduction ... Blurb offers a choice of several paper weights and finishes.  They are as good as most of the commercially published books of photographs I own.
  • Text and captioning ... Page layout options allow for numerous choices about placement of text and importing of captions from metadata.  One is only limited by the ability to write coherent sentences.
  • Hardbound covers ... These are as solid as any book I own.  The only disappointment I have about the binding is that the pages are glued in, not sewn in.
  • Available for preview via internet ... I'm in love with this feature.  One simply has to open the Blurb website and search my name to be directed to my books.  From there, one can preview all the pages on a full-screen display.  I don't have to create a website or gallery for people to view my images with text.

The only disadvantage I see using Blurb to create these books is the price.  Paying $80 or more, plus shipping, for a hundred page hard bound book of photographs with text is a disincentive.  This is something I will only do for special projects that beg to be published in a book format, or for a special gift.

Galapagos 2015

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