The must-have, bookmaking hit of the season: BookSmart 1.9

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pin it button The must have, bookmaking hit of the season: BookSmart 1.9

Blurb BookSmart 1.9 is here. It’s the most ambitious version we’ve ever released. Every single member of the Blurberati worked on it, tested it, and helped get it here. We listened to feedback from the community and made updates accordingly. We’re proud to let you know what you can look forward to as soon as you download it.

tiny 1 9 The must have, bookmaking hit of the season: BookSmart 1.9

Here are some of the newest features you’ll want to check out:

Page Layouts – We added over 45 new page layouts to each of our four book sizes. Modern grid designs, playful collage layouts, yearbook pages, journal pages, and classic wedding-album layouts are just a few of the new options for placing text and images into BookSmart.

Backgrounds, Ornaments, and Picture Borders – Adorn your books with more than 60 new hand-illustrated artistic accents that add individual flourishes to your book pages. Some are dramatic, some subtle, but all deliver on BookSmart’s improved flexibility to let you take your designs farther. You can even customize the colors of all the new background patterns, ornaments, and borders.

Script Font – BookSmart already supports most of your own fonts, but we added an elegant script font built in for everyone. (Look for Berthold Englische Schreibschrift.) This guarantees compatibility for those who use the script font at any point size. And we don’t mind saying that it’s perfect for wedding books.

Wedding Themes – Baroque, Flirty, Deco, and Flora are the names of Blurb’s four new wedding themes. Each has its own set of multiple backgrounds, ornaments, borders, and colors that reflect the theme, all of which were hand-illustrated by Blurb’s in-house artist. Go ahead and match the book’s colors to your wedding colors.

Travel Theme – The travel theme is now available across all four book sizes. It features illustrations, background patterns, and photo treatments that embody classic travel imagery.

Cookbook Themes – Some of you want a subtle floral pattern for vegetarian cookbooks. Others want a retro fork and spoon for a collection of diner desserts. The four cookbook themes are now available in three book sizes, making it easier to create a personal cookbook.

Community Book – Blurb authors can now invite contributors to share content and contribute to a community book project. This is so huge we’re devoting an entire blog post to it tomorrow.

SmugMug Slurper
– Slurp your SmugMug photos directly into BookSmart. Flickr and Picasa Web Albums are no longer the only ones with their own slurper. We’ll write more about SmugMug over the next few days.

Microsoft Vista – BookSmart is now Vista compatible.

More Metrics – BookSmart now shows additional book measurements in metrics.

If you plan on making a lot of books throughout the holidays, you can count on BookSmart 1.9 to carry you through the season. It’s been a busy year for Blurb, but we’ve got more in store for 2008, so keep your suggestions and feedback coming. You never know, they might appear in the next version, next year.

We’ll share more BookSmart 1.9 tips and tricks in the days to come.

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  1. It sounds great!

    By Joan
      October 23, 2007 – 5:01 pm   Permalink
  2. I’m using Blurb for my wedding pictures, and I love 1.9! Such a great new version and I LOVE the backgrounds. I customized the colors for one that I’m making as a thank you gift of the pictures of the bachelorette party for the guys who planned my bachelorette.

    What great features! And one of my photobooks that wasn’t working in 1.8 is now working in 1.9! I’m so happy!!

    By Jessica
      October 23, 2007 – 5:01 pm   Permalink
  3. Can Blurb pull content from WordPress blogs that aren’t hosted on I run the WordPress software on my own server, and in previous versions of Blurb it wasn’t an option to point the sucker to any server but

    By Rob
      October 23, 2007 – 5:05 pm   Permalink
  4. I can’t wait to use the new version for a family vacation book for Christmas presents. You keep getting better and better!!! Keep it coming!

    By Sally
      October 23, 2007 – 5:08 pm   Permalink
  5. I can’t download the new version? What went wrong. When I click on the icon, I still get the old version of Booksmart

    By Heather
      October 23, 2007 – 5:10 pm   Permalink
  6. Can’t wait to start on my next book to try the new layouts.

    By Zonda
      October 23, 2007 – 5:33 pm   Permalink
  7. is this pc only? mac upgrade to follow?

    By gromit95
      October 23, 2007 – 5:52 pm   Permalink
  8. I have like 6 books in process and this is totally what i needed!!! i cant wait to use them.. i wont loose the old files right?

    By marcela garza
      October 23, 2007 – 5:55 pm   Permalink
  9. I am working on a 240page travel photos book and I’ve been using the previous version. When I got the email telling that a new version (1.9) was available, I downloaded it immediately!

    So, new versions are always nice. But where are the “45 new page layouts” that we’re supposed to get? The following quote suggests many more, and more types: “Modern grid designs, photo collages, yearbook pages, journal pages, and more” but I don’t see them. The new background features, and ornaments, and themes look improved, but nothing noticeably new in the page layouts under “Picture Layouts” or “Text Layouts” – are they elsewhere? Maybe I got a bad install and these “photo collages, yearbook pages, etc are not showing up?! Please help! I desperately want to see some of these new layouts!


    By Rich
      October 23, 2007 – 6:01 pm   Permalink
  10. stop. i can’t breathe. i am so excited. I LOVE LOVE smugmug and can not wait to get started on some projects. i have been waiting and waiting for this to happen.
    i can’t wait to get my blog printed as well.


      October 23, 2007 – 6:21 pm   Permalink
  11. How soon will Booksmart be Leopard compatible?

    By Rob
      October 23, 2007 – 6:34 pm   Permalink
  12. does the new version allow…
    – 2-page full spreads without having to do it manually?
    – user to resize the box containing each image?

    By benjamin
      October 23, 2007 – 6:35 pm   Permalink
  13. I just had sent off a 318 page book–so glad that the new version accepts old books. If there was just a free form layout like MPIX does and the larger size books—I get most books made though MPIX just because you have some much more flexibility in the layout. Hopefully this will get booksmart closer. Downloading as I post this. Keep up the work on BookSmart.

    By Kody Kline
      October 23, 2007 – 6:38 pm   Permalink
  14. Thrilled that you now have photo collage page layouts…I am in the midst of about a 100 page photo book of my sister’s 60 years of life. Luckily it isn’t too late to avail myself of these kinds of improvements. I love what you offer, before and now, to us Mac users! You have tempered my immense frustration at using the very limited iPhoto book creation program, and I can now make these bigger books without constantly losing my data. Great work everyone! Thanks Bunches!

    Linda (Montreal)

    By L. Miller
      October 23, 2007 – 7:18 pm   Permalink
  15. Does new version 1.9 have justified text capability?

    By Ron Kay
      October 23, 2007 – 7:23 pm   Permalink
  16. I tried using an earlier release of this program but when I tried to put a book together, I got the message that the resolution for my scaned images was too low to use. I tried using the highest resolution available but I still received the same message.

    Can scaned images used with this release?


    Thom L. Jones

    By Thom L Jones
      October 23, 2007 – 8:26 pm   Permalink
  17. Will existing books in progress or previously published books automatically be upgraded to the new 1.9?

      October 23, 2007 – 8:37 pm   Permalink
  18. have not started using blurb for i was having issues but i think the new version fixed it and totally excited it works with smugmug as I am a smugmug user, yeah thanks.

      October 23, 2007 – 8:54 pm   Permalink
  19. blurb rocks!!!!!

      October 23, 2007 – 8:55 pm   Permalink
  20. Hi,

    I am a photographer and I offer Blurb books as my proof books, my clients love it. I use the 7×7 Hardcover with 4 pictures per page.
    But I’d like to suggest for you guys to create a lay-out that would allow drag and drop keeping the proportions, I know the new version offer that, but I’d have to manually do that picture per picture, what is impossible. Another great thing would be that the pictures carry their file name right below them. For the proof book idea. Like the contact sheet on Photoshop. That’s how I have been getting around this problem. With the suggetions that I just made I could use all the features like backgrounds, ornaments, etc.
    Another thing that I’d like to ask, beg… is please offer a different paper, a better quality one, glossy…
    I like the product, but still have some room to improve, great that you guys are open for suggestion and follow up on it.
    Thanks a lot,

      October 23, 2007 – 9:31 pm   Permalink
  21. I agree with the following system below, but would like add that I like the fact that you have lareg size but lack of many layout and control over the layout,able to choose my own background and fade them,make this for a looser to MPIX books so far they are the best but they lack teh large size books and photos over the cover.
    I will use it when these are availble. no offense.
    So, new versions are always nice. But where are the “45 new page layouts” that we’re supposed to get? The following quote suggests many more, and more types: “Modern grid designs, photo collages, yearbook pages, journal pages, and more” but I don’t see them. The new background features, and ornaments, and themes look improved, but nothing noticeably new in the page layouts under “Picture Layouts” or “Text Layouts” – are they elsewhere? Maybe I got a bad install and these “photo collages, yearbook pages, etc are not showing up?! Please help! I desperately want to see some of these new layouts

    By Khalil
      October 23, 2007 – 9:56 pm   Permalink
  22. thanks for the release but as some people out there I like to be free and not depend on layouts. When will you support PDF with Booksmart?

    By Herve P
      October 24, 2007 – 12:46 am   Permalink
  23. I would definitely pay more for better paper. I agree with Alice, PLEASE give us options for heavier, glossy paper. I would think 90lb or 100lb paper would do the trick. Please!!!!

    By Rich
      October 24, 2007 – 3:57 am   Permalink
  24. I totally agree about the paper. Several other companies offer a differant paper, have sent me samples, and when I show my clients, that is what they want, thereforee, I order a book from the other company, although I prefer using Blurb for the price and the ease of use.

      October 24, 2007 – 4:47 am   Permalink
  25. I’m so with Rich and Alice about the heavier paper and more saturated colors. Some of my colors look washed out and the paper is so thin. I also want to address the issue of not being able to correct the book jacket separate from the book itself. I recently printed two mother’s books from a wedding and put the wrong wedding date on in error and was told I had to redo both entire books to get a new dust jacket. Please fix that feature of your operation. Another set of books came back with the bride’s dress a lovely shade of cyan instead of white on the dust jacket. Any chance your upgrade is fixing these issues?

      October 24, 2007 – 6:13 am   Permalink
  26. I was wondering why I only get the new features on a new book and not my current book in progress? Is there any way to apply the new features to a book I already have started? Am I doing something wrong?


    By Rachael
      October 24, 2007 – 7:26 am   Permalink
  27. Does this new version allow us to import PDF files created from InDesign layouts? Is it still jpeg-only? I love the idea of your software but won’t use it until I can have the capability to make any layout that is conceivably possible.

    I second what others said about available paper options, and would add a request for uncoated paper as well.

    By Matt
      October 24, 2007 – 7:35 am   Permalink
  28. Interesting, it sounds like these new page layouts only apply to NEW BOOKS, not books in progress (and started with prior versions). Can someone confirm or deny this? Of course, I will go try this myself, but why in the world would the new layouts only be available for new books?! Are the old layouts not supported anymore? I can’t imagine the Blurb developers would make a non-forward compatible version!

    By Rich
      October 24, 2007 – 8:19 am   Permalink
  29. I agree with Sandy about the dust-jackets. There really ought to be a way to order dust jackets separately — they are removeable items that are probably sent to press separately too. Why not offer this feature? Aside from just mistakes, i can see a need to reprint dust jackets if they get torn, etc. These are keepsake books, I’d want to order extras anyway! Feel free to charge us double for extra dust jackets, but at least offer the option. – Thanks

    By Rich
      October 24, 2007 – 8:23 am   Permalink
  30. WOW! I cannot even begin to tell you how thrilled I am that you’ve added SmugMug to the mix! This will make my life so much easier.
    Thank you, Blurberati!!! You ROCK!

      October 24, 2007 – 10:18 am   Permalink
  31. I had the same question about the new layouts. I’m using a 11×17 book – perhaps there are fewer new layouts available for that size?

    In general, I would be interested in a greater variety of layouts that include 1 large and a number of smaller pictures.

    The backgrounds and new fonts are cool – but I’m a little disappointed as I was really excited for some additional variety in the layout options. When putting together 200 page books, the same layouts get a little old!

    All that being said, I love my Blurb books and have gotten numerous compliments on them!

    By Christine Midwood
      October 24, 2007 – 10:47 am   Permalink
  32. I’m just a bit confused. I’ve been seeking a program that will do E-Books fairly easy without a bit learning curve. I am an author-publisher and want to market all my novels as EBooks on a website I am building. Does this program do EBOOKS?



      October 24, 2007 – 12:53 pm   Permalink
  33. I love your product. I have finished my first book and have two in build.

    Your new version is still a little twitchy but I am sure this will iron itself out in time. However, whilst the page templates are good, there is the odd occasion when I would like to move a pic or a text block slightly – and I am also irritated at times that I am limited with the font size – on the spine, for example.

    I would also like to endorse another writers’ comments – can we have a facility to order extra dust jackets?

    By David Latimer
      October 24, 2007 – 2:34 pm   Permalink
  34. Wow. Lots of comments here. I will try my best to answer them all.

    For a livelier discussion in real time, you might want to continue these discussions in the Forums:

    #3 – The Blog Slurper is only compatible with blogs at this time.
    #5 – If you are experiencing problems with the new version, please contact Technical Support – – so they can help resolve the issue.
    #7 – This upgrade, like all others, is for both Mac and PC.
    #8, 17 – No, you will not lose your old files, but remember it’s always a good idea to make back-up copies of older books before downloading.
    #9, 21, 31 – All of the new layouts are there. You’ll find them with the rest of your layout options in the left margin of BookSmart. Collage, Picture Layouts, Text, etc. are ready to use.
    #11 – Stay tuned to the blog and Forums to find out when BookSmart is Leopard compatible.
    #12 – Two-page spreads are still accomplished by creating them manually. You can resize images within an image container, but not the image container itself.
    #15 – You can justify text right and left as always.
    #16 – Scanned images should not be a problem. You might want to post your question to the Forums and let other Blurbarians help you with that one.
    #20, 23, 24, 25 – We hear you about paper choices. Stay tuned on that request.
    #22, 27 – Accepting PDFs in BookSmart is on our list of things to investigate. A lot of people have requested this specific feature, but for now, it’s not in the current build.
    #26, 28 – You cannot apply new 1.9 features to books started in 1.8 and already in progress. Old layouts are of course still available. We just keep adding new ones with every version.
    #29, 33 – Ordering dust jackets separately is another item that many people have asked for. We are indeed looking into it.
    #32 – Blurb BookSmart is a bookmaking application. It does not create ebooks.
    #33 – Lots of requests for being able to move text and image containers. Stay tuned on this one as well.

    Phew. I think this list answers a lot of the questions asked over the past few days. As mentioned above, you might want to continue this discussion in the Forums:

    Thanks for everyone for the great feedback. I cannot wait to see all the new books come in with 1.9 layouts.

    – Kathy

    By Kathy
      October 25, 2007 – 11:12 am   Permalink
  35. Blurb rocks, and the new features and backgrounds are indeed awesome.

    I am just majorly frustrated why I cannot use the new layouts available in 1.9 for a book I started 3 weeks ago in 1.8! I mave many hand-made 2-page (and 2-frame) spreads, and lots of other manual resizings that took a lot of time. Not to mention all the text that is laid-out just so! Couple that with the fact thatI have over 225 pages so far and you’ll see my frustration. Do I have to redo all this in 1.9 just to use (the long awaited) layouts available to me for some specific pages? What was my incentive to get started in 1.8 if I knew another version was coming out with more layouts? Should I not use 1.9 and just wait for 2.0, or will 2.0 be forward compatible? See my point? I just think there was an error in judgment or an error in project management or something! Think about your customers!

    > How can Blurb put a version out that is not forward compatible?
    > Are there technical reasons for this?
    > Considering you are not removing any layouts, how does ADDING more make it non-forward compatible?
    > Could this be fixed with a patch version (quickly), please??!!
    > If not, is there any way to import a 1.8 book into a 1.9 book? Can you release a “tool” to do that as a one-time use download or something?

    Sorry to sound so negative about an excellent tool. I just wish I was starting from scratch like so many other people who have written their praise in earlier posts, but the reality of it is that some of us have books we’ve already created and want to spiff-up, or finish existing books and NEED to get at the features (page layouts) of 1.9 more easily! Thank you…

    By Rich G
      October 26, 2007 – 4:13 am   Permalink
  36. Regarding Kathy’s comment above on offering the option to print with better paper quality…You say “stay tuned on that.”

    Could I kindly ask for more information? If I want to print a few holiday books (gifts) I would much rather print on better paper. Aside from the content of the book, cheap paper lessens the overall quality of any book. Good paper speaks volumes about quality.

    > Will new paper options be available for orders placed for the Holiday season? (i.e. if I wait til November 30, will it be worth the wait)?

    If new paper is coming, I’d rather wait. I just need to know your timeline on this! But be careful on the announcement, because if it just “becomes available overnight” many people who very recently placed orders will be very upset. So, new paper options should be marketed weeks before they are offered, know what I mean?

    Please provide more information on new paper types you are considering, proposed pricing, and most importantly when you expect these options will be available for newly ordered books.

    Thanks in advance!

    By Rich G
      October 26, 2007 – 4:20 am   Permalink
  37. I’ve been looking at on-demand/electronic composition for a while now and finally took the plunge — on the basis of Blurb’s quality. The BLURB books are excellent.

    That said, I downloaded 1.9 onto a laptop that exceeds the stated sys requirements. It locks, is slow — frankly, it’s a disaster. Now my whole book plan is on hold. Worse, the company seems in denial in relation to comments made by its own users on its own blog!

    iuniverse anyone?

    WHAT GIVES? Are the sys requirements out of sync? ( I’m using an AMD chipset — does that matter? It’s not a duo chip, does that matter?) Anyway, if the sys requirements are actually more specific that you might first have believed, then provide and support the best previous booksmart version that works, however limited its capacities might be. (Happily, I have a copy of 1.7.7, should I hope to continue…) If you are going to solve some of the problems, maybe outline what they might be, give a prospective patch release date and acknowledge the problems, even if it is “SOME USERS HAVE REPORTED…”

    This is your major intake pipe, folks.

    And, as I reflect on this, maybe you should structure your company as a cooperative, where blurb users become blurb owners. That way there is less incentive to gloss over problems in the name of public relations.

    most of all — please succeed. this is a great idea and a great way to do a book. i’ve been waiting a long time for something this good — so, please, make it succeed.


    By Roger M
      October 26, 2007 – 8:11 am   Permalink
  38. Hi Rich,

    BookSmart 1.9 is structurally much different than 1.8, i.e.,we made a lot of changes under the hood so to speak. Because of that, even though you can see and use older layouts, the new layouts won’t appear.

    Every time we release a new version of BookSmart, we’re quite aware that people will have books in progress. With the transition from 1.8 to 1.9 you can certainly finish your book using all of the existing 1.8 layouts. Not want you wanted to hear, I know, but we try to keep our beta product moving as forward as possible.

    Re: your question about new paper options, as I said, this is something that a lot of people are interested in and that we are indeed researching. If we have any news or updates on this, we’ll let our community know.

    Thanks for your comments!

    By Kathy
      October 26, 2007 – 6:20 pm   Permalink
  39. Hi, are there layouts with a photo as the background, with other photos laid on top?


    By Sheri
      October 26, 2007 – 7:44 pm   Permalink
  40. Sheri,

    Our collage layouts might be what you’re looking for. If not, this sounds like something you could do in InDesign.

    – Kathy

    By Kathy
      October 29, 2007 – 12:34 pm   Permalink
  41. Hi Roger M,

    Thousands of people have downloaded the new version of BookSmart since its release – in fact, this is our most popular release ever – and are not having the problems that you’re describing. We’re seeing more and more books – created using 1.9 – appearing daily in the Bookstore. We need everyone who’s experiencing issues in BookSmart to contact Customer Support. Without this feedback, we cannot accurately measure the severity of these problems especially when we’ve had hundreds of books appearing in the Bookstore since the release.

    Hope this helps.

    – Kathy

    By Kathy
      October 29, 2007 – 12:37 pm   Permalink
  42. Kathy, might be a good idea to provide instructions about rolling back the version clock, to users of prior versions of BookSmart, before they download and start using the new versions. That way users such as myself will not have to provide the instructions to them instead, on some obscure Blurb discussion threads. Just in case: nothing worse than a nearly finished 440 page book, corrupted by an upgrade, and no way back…

      October 30, 2007 – 7:10 pm   Permalink
  43. I’ve been lobbying Blurb for some time to allow installation of the software on a drive of our choice, not force it to the C: drive. Anyone know if that is included in release 1.9??

    Almost every piece of commercial/shareware/freeware PC software allos this choice and I’d think it would be simple to program, a matter of a few Registry keys at most.

    By Roscoe
      November 7, 2007 – 6:39 am   Permalink