Please don't tell me I'll have to print this photo book on Bible paper...
December 28, 2010 3:18 PM   Subscribe

What is the best strategy for self publishing a very lengthy photo book? I'm looking for the sweet spot of quality and price.

I'm helping my mother put together a book of photos taken by guests my sister's wedding three years ago. No doubt there will be further editing, but we've got a pool of about 1000 usable images. Assuming the final book will have somewhere north of 500 images, this thing is going to be HUGE.

I'm looking for guidance both on vendor and methods of layout so I can get a book that my mother will enjoy looking through, that will look good, and that won't break the bank.

I have looked at Blurb, Lulu, Viovio, MyPublisher, Qoop, Shutterfly and Snapfish. Are any of these better for lengthy photo books than others? Regarding layout, is there some secret (like making my own pdfs rather than using a website's layout engine) that will help me get the most images in without making them eensy-weensy?
posted by ocherdraco to Media & Arts (7 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
For a project this big, I would certainly prefer to do my layout in a program meant for it and not some flash program. That and I'd be nitpicky over details that their program most likely wouldn't let me change. Lulu even tells you how to use popular programs, such as InDesign, to give them a PDF properly formatted for them.

I have this bookmark floating around my favorites, I think this is a must read entry for you (though it is also the first hit when you google "photo book comparison", so you probably read this already): The Great Photo Book Round-Up Review: Who Makes The Best Photo Books?
posted by Brian Puccio at 4:07 PM on December 28, 2010 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Ha! Somehow my search terms never included that phrase (undoubtedly I was searching too specifically), so I hadn't seen this yet. Thanks very much for that link.
posted by ocherdraco at 4:17 PM on December 28, 2010

I've used Blurb before to print a couple of image-based books (an illustrated children's book and a portfolio) and recommend their quality highly. They offer two large format sizes (12"x12" and 13"x11" landscape) which would easily accommodate 4 pictures per page, at least, and maybe something more like 6. These sizes are only available in hardcover, but I get the impression that this book is going to be a keepsake anyway?

As far as layout, you could easily squeeze 6 3"x5"s on a page making for an 84 page book with 500 images. You could also alternate and every so often make a picture you want highlighted bigger.

I haven't used Blurb's booksmart software so I can't give any advice on that. But I'd suggest laying out the pictures in a clean grid, keeping the alignment of the images consistent.

One more thing: I recommend their ImageWraps instead of Dust Jackets for the cover. The paper they use for their dust jackets is very glossy and smudges easily.

On preview: Blurb will also give you the exact specifications if you want to provide your own PDF, but InDesign has a bit of a learning curve if you've never worked with it or Illustrator before.
posted by girih knot at 4:17 PM on December 28, 2010

Kevin Kelly has posted about this at Cool Tools.
posted by mecran01 at 4:18 PM on December 28, 2010

Coming in to also recommend Blurb. I used it with students to create our own cookbooks with pictures and text. Easy to use and great quality.
posted by garnetgirl at 5:20 PM on December 28, 2010

Frankly, Blurb is /crap/ compared to whichever service Apple uses for Aperture.

Cheap tho.
posted by mmdei at 7:16 PM on December 28, 2010

I've just started brainstorming on a book for some friends who just moved away, so this is very timely for me.

I don't have much more to offer, except it appears mmdei might be incorrect, at least according to Kevin Kelly, they were* printed using the same process on the same machines, but for nearly twice the price.

I do like the design control one could have using Blurb vs. Apple (i.e. pdf to print)

* c. 2006
posted by a_green_man at 11:22 PM on December 28, 2010

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