On printing via Blurb’s PDF to Book: Part 1

End of the Evening, originally uploaded by Eric Jeschke.

Speaking of unfinished tales, I finally had a chance to log into Blurb.com to read about their new PDF to Book service (side gripe: why do they make you log in just to read about it?! ).  I am looking to POD publish my recent SoFoMoBo effort, Chickens, Anyone?.

I was steeling myself for the task of making individual images of every page of the book, and dealing with the intricacies and system requirements of the proprietary Blurb Booksmart software, when I ran across a pointer to the new service on Paul Butzi’s blog. I applaud Blurb for providing the new service, which is sure to be popular with folks like me that don’t want to deal with proprietary software, hacked workarounds or cookie-cutter templates. In a nutshell, the service allows you to upload your own prepared PDF of the book, so long as it meets some fairly typical, albeit stringent, requirements for book publishing.

I found that just like last year in my trial of the Viovio POD service, I still had to do a fair bit of tweaking to the document to fit the exacting requirements of trim and bleed and so forth. This was even after designing the original with the idea of getting it printed on Blurb’s 10×8 landscape offering. Fortunately, Scribus offers an “Align and Distribute” window that lets you fairly quickly fix things up after adjusting the page size, but it’s still more pointing and clicking nonsense than I’m used to.  I’d really rather edit a text file, however arcane (TeX anyone?), and have that regenerate the PDF. Come to think of it, I might try this experiment again using TeX or LaTeX.

In any case, Scribus offers some excellent support for the PDF/X-3 subformat required by Blurb. According to Blurb, you are able to keep your images in sRGB and their printer software will convert appropriately to CMYK. Alternatively, you can download their ICC profile and convert your images to that. I downloaded the profile for future reference, but this time around I’m going to try leaving the images in sRGB and see how it goes. As with Viovio, you prepare the text as one PDF and the wraparound cover as another. This is yet another reason you have to tweak your book  from the initial web-targeted version.

Long story short, after about four hours of tweaking, converting and resampling, I had the two PDFs uploaded to Blurb and a note in my mailbox that they were doing a “preflight check” of the file. I’m supposed to get another email when the check is finished and there are either problems found (and I need to tweak some more) or the book is ready to order. I’ll report back again when I hear from them.

2 thoughts on “On printing via Blurb’s PDF to Book: Part 1

  1. Any updates?

    I’m just in the process of creating a book for Blurb.com in Scribus – would be interested to hear your results, especially as far as colour management goes.

    Hope your book comes out well.

    • MicroAngelo,

      It’s confirmed shipped, so I should be reporting on it soon.

      Also, I redid the book in LaTeX and uploaded that result to Blurb and ordered a book as well. I’ve been meaning to write that up as a blog post as well so keep an eye out for it.

      –Eric

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