Books are Dead… Long Live the Book!… (v.2.0)

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Seasons Greetings Fellow Blurberati,

Those of you who have not been following the mainstream book publishing business may be unaware that the industry has been hit hard in recent weeks.

Wednesday, 3 December has become known as Black Wednesday as Random House folded five divisions into three, eliminating the jobs of two top editors (with more layoffs likely to follow), Simon and Schuster laid off 35 people, Thomas Nelson (religious publishing powerhouse) laid off 10% of their workforce, and Penguin announced widespread pay freezes. And all this was on top of the previous weeks’ news that Houghton Mifflin was no longer accepting any new submissions.

But while I feel terrible for those who have lost their jobs, this story does have a remarkably positive ending, so please read on.

Sara Nelson, Editor in Chief of Publisher’s Weekly, had this to say about Black Wednesday, ” But I don’t really worry, in the long run, about publishing itself. Because if there’s one thing that history has shown it is that when the dust settles – and it will settle– there have always been stories, people to read them, and people to produce and disseminate them. Whether those stories (and people) will be part of large corporations, whether the stories will be measured in pages or bytes, and whether there will be hundreds of thousands of them produced every year—well, that we’ll have to see.”

So here’s the good news I promised earlier. The answer is already hundreds of thousands. Books, that is. And that’s just Blurb’s contribution.

While mainstream publishing is indeed undergoing painful changes, the personal publishing business is exploding. Before the year is out — and in only our second full year of product availability, Blurb will have produced over 750,000 books. We have written checks in excess of $300,000 to those of you who elected to sell your books for profit in the bookstore this year alone — and nearly three quarters of a million people have downloaded Blurb’s BookSmart software in total.

During our peak week this holiday season we were seeing a new book title come in every three seconds. Many of these books are personal books — but increasingly, we are seeing folks previously published the old-fashioned way make their way over to Blurb.

We are particularly proud that Rick Smolan, the former Time/Life photographer and noted book author (America 24/7 sold in the hundreds of thousands of copies) chose Blurb to publish Natasha’s Story, a personal project he started more than 30 years ago; it is now a book of great beauty and grace.

So, I think Sara Nelson is right. Stories will be told and companies (like ours) will be there to assure they get produced and shared. In huge numbers. Globally.

Created by you.

Happy New Year everyone!

All best,

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  1. Its a shame could not be bothered to deliver my book before Christmas despite it being sent to them in November.

    I have now been told to wait another week to see if the replacement books turn up.

    Poor, rude and unhelpful service. I won’t be using again no matter what spiel they give about how good they are as they have failed me completely.

    By Andrew
      December 31, 2008 – 1:32 pm   Permalink
  2. This was great to read. I have yet to publish a book through Blurb or any other company and the economy made me a bit wary of what it would take to put my own project out there. But the D.I.Y. spirit lives and it’s what will keep it going!

      December 31, 2008 – 3:52 pm   Permalink
  3. This reading was encouraging especially when you’ve written books that inspire…for such a time as this! I’m glad I’ve chosen to go with blurb.
    Blurb is where its “at”!

    By Apostle Patricia
      December 31, 2008 – 8:25 pm   Permalink
  4. I have loved Blurb. I have published at least six different personal and professional projects over the past 18 months. I also know of at least a dozen people who have published with Blurb based on my recommendation. Keep up the good work. Happy New Year!

    By Nodakboiler
      December 31, 2008 – 8:34 pm   Permalink
  5. I note that my comments were not published. I guess only positive comments about Blurb are allowed so that others are fooled into using your services.

    By Andrew
      January 1, 2009 – 3:29 am   Permalink
  6. Andrew – I think there’s probably been a mistake with your mailing address or something. I ordered mine, and it was mailed the next day. Sorry for your bad experience, but they did indeed post your comments.

    By Nick
      January 1, 2009 – 9:51 pm   Permalink
  7. I have personally published several photobooks for my family and over 1000 booklets for work to use as little portfolios. I’ve had a fantastic experience and have told everyone I know looking for great photoalbum options to come here. Can’t wait to catch up on my family albums before I have harddrive malfunctions or something makes me lose the digital versions forever!

    By Karen
      January 2, 2009 – 9:35 am   Permalink
  8. NIck, sadly there wasn’t a problem with my brother’s mailing address and they only posted the comments AFTER I complained again via their support forms.

    2/3 sets of books were delivered – one set never arrived (I have my doubts due to errors on the orders page whether one set was even printed). Of those 2 sets that did arrive neither were “book store quality”, one had holes in it and the other was badly warped and the pages were falling out. We are still waiting for Blurb to rectify this after 6 weeks.

    3 chances to deliver the books – none of them were acceptable. This is what makes the above blog article so unbelievable. I can understand one or two reprints but not this many. This is our first (and last) book with Blurb surely we can’t be that unlucky with our order?

    By Andrew
      January 14, 2009 – 2:54 am   Permalink
  9. Hello Andrew

    Lightning has been known to strike twice — but three times?? Yikes. This is NOT a typical Blurb experience and I am truly sorry you have been so plagued. From your comments it appears that our customer support group is tracking this order – I will check the status with them today.

    We all know that problems are an inevitable piece of doing business, but we do try very hard to be one of those companies that recover brilliantly when there is an issue. It does not sound like we have made it over that hurdle with you yet …. (but we will keep at it.)

    All best

    All best,

    By Eileen Gittins
      January 14, 2009 – 8:27 am   Permalink
  10. Eileen,

    Make that four times now.

    Set 1 – Holes through pages
    Set 2 – Never sent/delivered
    Set 3 – Poor manufacturing, warped cover, broken spine
    Set 4 – Poor manufacturing, warped cover and 10% of pages badly printed

    Do we have to resign ourselves to the fact that the books will never be delivered in book store quality? Our emails to your support now go unanswered unless we post something in your blog or forum.

    The books from Holland (sets 3 and 4) are vastly inferior to the first set which came from somewhere else in Europe. If this first set had no holes in it it would have been perfect but the last two sets look as if they were assembled by amateurs or trainees. The cover does not close and the text is completely illegible on more than one page due to printing errors.


    By Andrew
      January 23, 2009 – 2:43 am   Permalink
  11. Hi Andrew,

    Very sorry to hear that your brother’s last order did not meet your expectations again. Unfortunately, dud orders can happen, and as frustrating as they can be, manufacturing defects allow us to examine and improve our processes.

    That said, please tell your brother to continue to work with our Customer Support team to remedy his situation. Christopher has been in contact with a few folks, so his support emails as well as yours are indeed being answered. Also, please note that the blog is not the place for customer support issues. In fact, until blog comments are verified (we hold them to check for spam), posting issues like these in the blog means that we might not get to them for days. Once in our support system, we’re getting to emails within a few hours or so.

    Thanks for your patience.

    – Kathy

    By Kathy
      January 23, 2009 – 10:55 am   Permalink

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