Power users and pro photographers: Get more out of BookSmart

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pin it button Power users and pro photographers: Get more out of BookSmart

Here are six technical tips to give your images greater potential in Blurb BookSmart™. While this is not a comprehensive list – it’s based on what I’ve learned in all my hours making books and creating templates – it’ll definitely give you an expert advantage going into your next book.

  1. Shoot at the highest DPI. This will allow more opportunity to successfully crop an image and use it full bleed or even split across two pages.
  2. Does your camera allow you to shoot in Adobe 1998 color space? If so, remember to convert your images to sRGB at the last minute (or during the process soft proof in that space) to see how the conversion will look once your book is printed. If you don’t convert, your Adobe 1998 numbers will be misinterpreted as sRGB colors and print inaccurately.
  3. For a seamless shot that merges your image’s black background with BookSmart’s black page color option, consider setting the black point of your camera or photo file to 0,0,0.
  4. If you’re creating a large format landscape 13×11 size Blurb book, note that the BookSmart image containers are specifically set to a 2:3 ratio. Your camera is likely to have its ratio set to 3:4. If possible, you may want to set your camera’s ratio to 2:3 for a more proportional image fit. *This ratio only applies to the 13×11 size book.
  5. Sepia and grey image editing should be done before you add your image to BookSmart. Set and save custom sepia or black and white filters/actions in your preferred image editing application. You can batch these in Photoshop, Bridge, or other image-editing tools.
  6. Order your first book to use as a color proof. Select the 13×11 book with a template that allows the most photos at a reasonably large size. It’s a good idea to add more photos than you are likely to use and even bracketed versions to ensure a wide range of test images to draw from.

As I mentioned earlier, this is not a comprehensive list. I’d love to hear what other photographers think. Post your tips and questions as comments below.

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  1. Hey there! I’m wanting to know if I can customize my book— without using a set template? Just thought I’d find out before I download everything to get started.
    Thanks so much!

      April 18, 2007 – 6:30 am   Permalink
  2. Hi Jen – You can easily customize your book. Look through our FAQs for some hints or just check out http://www.blurb.com/help/faq#CanIImportMyDesign for more info.

    By Kathy
      April 18, 2007 – 9:13 am   Permalink
  3. Hello!
    I’m surprised to read that the result will be better in sRGB. I thought this format was for the sreen and the prints looked better in RGB (or CMYK?).

    Actually, I mixed the two in my book and I don’t see any noticeable difference. Both are good.

      April 24, 2007 – 1:16 pm   Permalink
  4. The first statement is misleading. Digital images have no DPI; they’re only made of pixels. The guideline should be to always shoot at the highest Pixel count and Quality setting on the users camera. My standard statement to digital camera users is “Go Big or Go Home!”

    As to color spaces, AdobeRGB will give a bit more color data to work with while editing in Photoshop. Converting to sRGB is needed to correctly reproduce colors when using the BookSmart software. (I would assume that Blurb takes care of CMYK conversion if they use a 4 color print process) sRGB is also the preferred color space when having prints done at your local photo lab.

    By karl
      May 18, 2007 – 11:56 am   Permalink
  5. Agreed. Thanks for calling attention to this distinction.

    By Kathy
      May 21, 2007 – 7:15 pm   Permalink
  6. I would like to knpw what type of printer is used for prinying photo books so I can determine the best sharpening method/settings. For print I usually use Nik Sharpeer Pro which requies knowledge of the printer make or type (viz. Lightjet, inkjet, offset …) and printer dpi

    By John Coiner
      May 22, 2007 – 8:31 pm   Permalink
  7. In many editing applications, knowing the desitination (how the image will be printed) allows for better color adjusting because you can soft proof the image. The following are the kind of printers we use for various book sizes and formats.

    *All softcover books and all 7×7 (hard and soft) are printed covers and guts on Xerox iGen
    *All hardcover standard and above guts are printed on HP5000 Indigo press
    *Hardcover jackets standard and above are printed either on inkjet or Xeikon depending on destination. All will move to Xeikon by the end of the summer.


      May 23, 2007 – 12:27 pm   Permalink
  8. I see version 1.8 is now available, but in the list of improvements there is no mention of being able to install on a drive of one’s choice, not just the C: drive.

    Please, please, please, add that option! Almost every piece of commercial and freeware software allows for that and it would allow great flexibility to users in managing their disk space, so that the program and books don’t have to be on the system drive. Can’t you just manage this with one or a few Registry keys??

      June 9, 2007 – 1:01 pm   Permalink
  9. You said, ” It’s a good idea to add more photos than you are likely to use and even bracketed versions to ensure a wide range of test images to draw from.”

    Well, I have a BIG problem with that! You’ve printed your proof book, & now want to make changes…

    When you delete those “more photos” from the pages, the images go back into the “in box” as they haven’t been used. You can’t get rid of them with “Hide used” as they haven’t been used.
    If you upload a new edited version of pic XXX.001, with a different version filename, XXX.001a, now you’ll have two thumbs in the inbox, & if the change is tiny, like slight color balance, it’s difficult to see which is which. Do it again, & you have 3 versions to contend with.

    The only way I can see to clean out the inbox, is to make a new page with lots of slots for images & drag them all in there. Then delete that page before you publish again.

    Seems like there should be a better way?

    By Frank Cizek
      July 20, 2007 – 6:44 am   Permalink
  10. Hi Frank – If you’re referring to imported photos and not iPhoto photos, you can actually delete by selecting the image and pressing the delete key on your keyboard. This simply removes the image from BookSmart and not your computer. You can also double-click on an image to magnify it and check out the details.

    By Kathy
      July 20, 2007 – 2:51 pm   Permalink
  11. I have a file in word and want to import it into a book. I read that you could not do it with the last download has that changed yet. I do not want to have to retype the whole 60 pages I have written so far. thank you


    By Allan
      April 1, 2008 – 11:10 am   Permalink
  12. Anyone got tips for best reproduction of black and white images. My workflow is Adobe Raw conversion > desaturate > resize > convert to 8bit sRGB > sharpen > view in soft proof with the Indigo 5000 profile > final adjustments according to profile. Then I use Adobe InDesign for page page layout > export as PDF > Open PDF in Photoshop > create jpeg > drop jpeg into booksmart. The PDF is set to carry the ICC profile over into jpeg.
    The first book had green areas and magenta areas in the monochrome images. Blurb gave me a credit so I’m trying again, but any suggestions as to how to avoid colours within monochrome images is apprecited. We have had lots of printing done with monochrome using cmyk and if the press is working ok and the profile is accurate the result is good, although not as good as a duo-tone, black and grey ink print.
    Richard Davis – London UK

      September 7, 2008 – 4:48 am   Permalink

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