Adventures with Blurb, Part 1-(I’m Eileen Gittins—who the hell are you?)

She is bright, a successful business woman, having worked across the globe with Kodak and Vice President at Wall Data as well as Board Director at Qbiquity and Popular Demand. She studied photography in her younger days and is founder and CEO of, an on line self-publishing solutions company for photographers and authors alike. In spite of all her success, she says Blurb is the most fun thing she has ever done.

And, here’s Eileen speaking to John Shinal, of Vator TV, last March about new developments for Blurb……

From the interview, you can get a little picture (ouch, no pun intended) of where Blurb were a year ago. In 2007 Blurb produced 80,000 titles, with much of this output being a mixture of ‘coffee table’ photographic albums in book form ranging from the humble personal wedding album to the glossy corporate book brochure for high- flying architects and graphic artists. This is where Blurb wanted to pitch their business as a self-publishing alternative to the norms of ‘Aunt Maple’s Cookbook’ and ‘College Graduate’s Great American Novel’. Their last reported turnover was $30m, so we are not dealing with small potatoes here.

At the moment, I have firmly strapped myself in and I am embarking on the re-issuing of a previous book I published through my own publishing imprint Aquarius Communications, using Blurb’s BookSmart downloadable software. Before we journey on that particular adventure in Part 2 of this little voyage, let me take a general appraisal and overview of Blurb at the moment.

I came across Blub about a year ago but did not start seriously looking at their services until late last year. Blurb is surfing in the Lulu market, and perhaps much more so now than they have previously been. Blurb’s initial pitch and investment was into the high end corporate market which would attract in photographers, architects, graphic designers, as well as the general consumer exploiting the advances in digital technology brought to the family home. Even in the time I have followed Blurb, there has been a subtle change in how they market their services. They are now openly pitching directly to the common man and woman in the home and the self employed graphic artist and photographers, all highly technologically aware, but ultimately they are looking to present a personal visual representation of their lives, or a small artistic business product or brochure for a captured audience. This is the key to what Blurb have on offer at the moment.

Visit Blurb’s website and you will quickly see that their cornerstone is the quality of an individuals artistic endeavour (personal or corporate), but without real worldwide or wholesale distribution beyond Blurb’s own bookstore window. For example, at the moment, Blurb do not provide ISBN’s for their published books, nor do they provide third party distribution such as Ingrams or Amazon.

Following the forums on Blurb’s own site tells a story in itself as to where author’s want Blurb to be, and where they actually are at the moment. The key forum criticisms directed at Blurb from their own users is the ability for the user to load highest quality images quickly and efficiently; the expanded adaptability of Blurb’s BookSmart software to import, export and provide full functionality with PDF documents; and the end Burb product to be flexible, adaptable and available for distribution worldwide, and that means channels like Ingrams and on line retailers. I believe that Blurb will catch up and resolve many of these issues and allow themselves to properly compete with companies like Lulu, CreateSpace and other print on demand solution providers. While it is just a matter of time–Blurb do need to start putting their best foot forward.

In my next article, I will look at Blurb’s specific service solutions offered for self-publishing authors.

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