“For me, photography ebooks open up my work to a variety of people who might otherwise not be able to experience the story or project I’m working on. I see a marriage between print books and ebooks where both options work in tandem to provide the publisher with a variety of avenues to reach the widest possible audience. Ebooks can be sold at a lower rate, which potentially allows a wider, and more far-flung demographic to experience the work.”
-Dan Milnor, Blurb Photographer At Large
Blurb ebooks are now available for any book made with Blurb BookSmart® or Blurb Bookify™ (with PDF to Book support coming soon). And we think this is pretty big: Full resolution, beautiful versions of your books on Apple’s iOS® devices for a fraction of the cost of the printed book. And while much of the ebook market has focused on novels, here we’re focusing on something else: ephotobooks.
For artists, putting out a collection of work has typically been a balancing act between aesthetics and economics. Hard copies cost money to make. Yet using the web to show work has meant free distribution, with limited ways to monetize that work.
National Geographic photographer Michael Nichols recently switched from using his website to showcase his work to using an iPad app because he “just couldn’t give it away anymore.” Not that no one wanted it, but he wanted people to value it. Meanwhile photo book maker Michael Mack has gone the app route because of his disappointment with the collector’s market. So it’s a shift already in progress.
Of course making an app is an expensive undertaking, requiring a developer. A Blurb ephotobook that runs on the iBooks app, however, presents artists with an entirely disruptive format for distribution. Everything becomes more affordable for the bookmaker:
1) Cost of production: Right now the base price of an ebook is just $9.99, cheaper than our smallest Black and White book option — it’s also significantly less than what anyone else charges for ebook conversion (which can cost up to $10 per page).
2) Profits: Our Set Your Price program means that how much you make on your book is up to you. Blurb takes a simple 20% commission on each ebook sold (unless, of course, you’ve set your price to 0.00).
3) Distribution: No shipping costs, no waiting time for delivery, virtually no geographic boundaries.
4) Scalability: You use the same tools to make an ebook as you do a printed book on Blurb, so there’s no time lost going from one format to another, and no cost for different tools.
And the aesthetic experience doesn’t lag either. With a backlit screen, the ebook more closely mimics what the bookmaker sees on screen. The images are full resolution too. So with ebooks, it’s not a balancing act. It’s more of a perfect union of aesthetics and economics.
And what about the relationship to printed books? We believe there’s a place for both. As beautiful as the iPad is, it’s not the same as our [ProLine Uncoated paper].
Ultimately, we don’t know if ephotobooks will enjoy the same privileged place on the bookshelf as Robert Frank’s The Americans, Lee Friedlander’s America by Car, or William Eggleston’s Guide. But there’s tremendous opportunity for many more photographers to release their work for a lower cost on a medium that’s gaining increasing popularity.
As Darius Himes, lead judge for Photography Book Now 2011 has said, “Both illustrated ebooks and printed, physical books… I’m sure certain artists will thrive in one arena or the other, whereas the rare individual will utilize both platforms to launch amazing projects.”