What should our blog be?

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Just over three years ago I was lucky enough to join Blurb as one of the founding employees. Thanks to your passion for books and for Blurb, we’ve grown, won a bunch of cool accolades, and the best part is that every day we get to work on products and services we dig. We first launched this blog almost two years ago as a place to showcase Blurb authors and their stories, inspire people, share tips and tricks, bubble up the latest happenings in the Blurb-o-sphere, and spout the random crazy idea every now and again.

It seems about time we shake things up a bit, don’t you think? That’s where you come in. Over the next few months we’ll be looking for ways to improve the blog and we need your help. What topics do you want to see more of? What’s the most helpful? The most interesting? What rocks the hardest? What could go away and not make you sad? Please post your thoughts and ideas about the future of the Blurb blog in the comments section below. We’ll take ‘em to heart, but not today – this afternoon the Blurb team is off to down buttered popcorn, take in an Iron Man matinee, and enjoy cold beverages to celebrate our anniversary.

Rock on!

Chad Jennings, VP of Design, Blurb

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16 Comments

  1. First off, enjoy Iron Man. That move rocked. I hope you stayed through the credits!

    Second, in your blog redesign, I’d like to see at least as much exploration of Blurb’s impact on the publishing industry. It’s a very important topic.

    We live in a time of centralization. The centralization of information is dangerous, but the centralization of storytelling is an aberration. We need indie book publishing for audiences who know what’s good and what isn’t without having to be told, and for artists who’s message is important even if it’s not for everyone.

    It may be true, as you’ve posted elswhere, that readers don’t care who publishes the books they read. But publishing is an art form and Blurb has as much to offer the independent publisher as it does the independent author. I think it should matter who publishes a book as much as it matters who wrote it. Maybe one day, with Blurb’s help, it will.

      May 9, 2008 – 12:59 pm   Permalink
  2. I love that you regularly highlight new books. I get such great inspiration from other people’s work. I also like when you inform us of upcoming events, seminars, courses, competitions. Keep up the great work and happy anniversary.

      May 9, 2008 – 5:28 pm   Permalink
  3. I love Blurb, and while I have only printed 3 books for personal use, I am always playing around and conceptualizing with BookSmart.

    I have the Blurb blog in my Netvibes RSS feed site, but I am not reading the articles much. Honestly, I would like to see a lot more tips and tricks for using BookSmart (maybe mined from the forums?), and more technical posts. Possibly alternating between the basics and pro stuff?… The Book of the Week, and those sorts of posts don’t really read because I am not interested in purchasing them, and only sometimes do I check them out from a design POV (so I am not saying you should axe them either…).

    Thanks again for the great site, software and method of taking our content and getting into a physical medium.

    Cheers!

    By Brian
      May 9, 2008 – 5:38 pm   Permalink
  4. I think it would be an excellent idea to hold weekly/monthly contests and/or drawings. Could be votes for favorite book within each category. Winners get special highlight area for a week or so. This would be fun, and also draw people back regularly.
    Also, perhaps finding more emphasis on ‘advertising’ the Blurb bookstore through other websites with an emphasis on your ‘green’ publishing (since, unlike most typical publishing houses, you print only what is ordered, so you don’t end up with boxes of unsold books that end up getting their covers torn off and dumped into the wastebin, right?). Also, emphasis on the maverick, indie nature of these books, which is the most amazingly cool aspect of the whole venture.
    I am proud to be included in the Blurb community, and I know this has the potential for great things!
    alex

    By alex
      May 10, 2008 – 8:38 am   Permalink
  5. First off a congrats on your award, it’s highly deserved for the great quality of books you make.

    My one comment is that the prices for printing books is a little too high and does not leave much room for profits or sales especially when they end up costing as much as or in my case more than say a book put out by aperture or powerhouse. It’s tough to ask people to pay so much for an unknown artist working in a template format book as opposed to mainstream publishers with thicker paper and and original layouts. Especially when you go for the custom logo that sends the price through the roof (for me it adds 20 extra dollars!). I think blurb is great but the pricing is really counterproductive if one is trying to actually sell copies of a book. People always say ‘looks nice but man 75 bucks?’

      May 10, 2008 – 5:32 pm   Permalink
  6. I think the Blurberati Blog needs more tidbits of inspiration. For those out there unsure about where to start, but who are eager to publish their own books with Blurb, postings that act as inspiration could come to the rescue. Perhaps links to a cool upcoming photography exhibit or an indie press book reading — posts encouraging the Blurb community to keep reading, and to stay interested & involved in literature, books, photography, etc. Maybe links to or mention of events that help may readers figure out how to give back through their own creations. Posts like the one about Granta’s new site, where readers are led to resources that not only keep them up-to-date on up-and-coming authors & on more independent, online lit mags & literary news, but that also keep them thinking creatively. As a bonus, inspirational posts open up the floor for readers to comment and share their own thoughts & discoveries.

    Also, posts about how the Blurb community can become involved with others, and how they can stay motivated to keep creating: I second the idea about informal contests/drawings, “best of” submissions and votes, etc. Many authors just want to make their names visible to others.

      May 12, 2008 – 11:30 am   Permalink
  7. As a blurb novice working on my first book, I’m finding it hard to decide editorial policies! What photos to include, what formats to take…

    It’s great to see other people’s work, but what I’d really like is some editorial hints on how to create a create cover, or what factors one should keep in mind when laying out a page. There’s lots of options, but I don’t know how they’re going to look like in print.

    What the blog shouldn’t be is 5 minutes from an otherwise busy schedule to highlight some book or reprint a Blurb press release. Neither should it be just requests for Blurb improvements.

    What it should be is hints, advice, news, features and updates, cool sites, uncool sites, best-selling books and critiques of work. Maybe get some guest writers in to share their experiences.

    By Sean
      May 13, 2008 – 1:36 am   Permalink
  8. I’m a BlurbNation designer and have published a total of 18 Blurb books in a little more than a year.

    I’d like to think that some of these have the potential to go on to have bigger and brighter futures.

    I would be inspired by blog entries about books that started out at Blurb and were eventually noticed and picked up by mainstream publishing houses and distributed world-wide.

    Or perhaps stories about folks who printed their own book of art or photography and had those books open doors for them at galleries.

    I want to read about successes by Blurb authors and dream that some day one of my books will lead to the same.

    Christine Walsh-Newton

      May 13, 2008 – 8:27 am   Permalink
  9. I think little contests would be nice- having themes for them would be interesting, and maybe opening up voting so that other blurb authors could vote for the books they think should win could make them have more interaction. However, taking into account that entire books would need to be previewed, these contests would probably take up a bit more bandwidth. Maybe the contests should be held at live events rather than online, or blurb could have a yearly contest- maybe to celebrate blurb’s founding anniversary? That way it wouldn’t take up too much space online, hopefully.

    Additionally, if you integrated user polls into the blog I think that would be helpful for you guys to get some feedback. Make a “Polls” section. When a book of series of books is shipped to people, maybe an email prompt could ask the recipient of the books how their blurb service was. That way you know what areas need improving the most and know what satisfies the customers the most. Example questions could include “Are you satisfied with the quality of the cover of the book?”, “Did your book arrive on time?” Try to include open-ended questions like “What can we do to improve our service?” and “What would you like to see from us in the future?”

    Additionally, smaller polls on the website interface might be useful- you could check in and see “What’s your favorite book out now?” or “What kind of book are you working on right now/how long is it?”

    Maybe a rating system could come into play, so that users could rate their favorite books, and then you could have a section that displayed the user’s favorites to the public. Or be able to write reviews about books on the site.

    For the general site if commenting was enabled for authors and/or individual books, maybe we could get some feedback, too- a lot of blurb users are students posting portfolios and/or people who would like others to give critique- not everybody has a lot of people to give their book away once they have the hard copy, or the money to order lots of copies. That way, people could get some response to their books, and maybe improve their photography and make progress as artists through the use of such a system. Blurb would also get more hits by people coming in.

    In a more blog-related suggestion, I really like seeing showcases of other people’s work. I think that maybe if blurb randomly selected a book now and then that they picked for the staff pick, or just any book, and gave a review of it and posted small sample pictures, that book’s popularity would go up and people would probably be more prompted to buy it. Not only would the person benefit from the popularity but blurb would also get more income that way.

    I like the blog but I think there should be more photography involved- all I see mainly are walls of text, and this is mainly a photography printing service here!! I would like to see the design of the blog spiced up with more photographs.

    By Emily Amaral
      May 13, 2008 – 8:34 am   Permalink
  10. I also like that you feature new books or books that you have noticed. I think it would also be great if you featured some interesting design elements from books that people have made or tips on bookmaking. I am always amazed to discover new elements in BookSmart as I make books.

      May 13, 2008 – 8:39 am   Permalink
  11. I really enjoy what you have done with the blog so far. I think it is awesome that you highlight books every week, I like seeing what other people are doing with their ideas. The one thing that I would really enjoy seeing more of are just general ‘tips and tricks’ on fun / handy things that can be done with the BookSmart application to make our books even more custom and dynamic. I would really enjoy seeing what the “professional amateurs” are doing to make their books great. Thanks a ton, Blurb, and keep up the great work!

    By John
      May 13, 2008 – 10:42 am   Permalink
  12. great how your Booksmark is so easy to upgrade…would like your blog to have a design tip section….also would like you to add a 50% or so toned backround of a picture on your page for the backround selection. of page…like your stripes ect.

      May 13, 2008 – 10:26 pm   Permalink
  13. More inspiration: contests, book ideas, tips & tricks. Easier to read – perhaps even magazine-style, long scrolling blogs are a thing of the past (I’m tired of all the red space). :)Better integration to blurb.com – it’s hard to get back there from the blog. Highlight the Blurb team and your photos a little better – you guys have a great company!

    That’s it! ;)

    By swert
      May 14, 2008 – 3:26 am   Permalink
  14. Just completed my first book, for a family vacation. I love the entire concept; with one exception. I woould totally love an option to have my photo books published on recycled paper/ or as with the Cradle to Cradle book no conventional trees at all. Is this possible with the process’ that are corrently being used by Blurb? Soy ink would also be a great option…am I just dreaming or is this currently possible. ????

    By CJ Bomar
      May 19, 2008 – 6:44 pm   Permalink
  15. Hi CJ,

    Thanks for your suggestion here and in our Suggestions and Feedback form. In the future, please direct these to our blog Suggestion box or in the aforementioned Suggestions form.

    We’re looking for feedback on what direction we should take our blog. If you have some ideas, please post them here.

    Thanks!

    – Kathy

    By Kathy
      May 19, 2008 – 6:49 pm   Permalink
  16. Would be cool to blog about the best or most intertesting books being made through Blurb.

      June 9, 2008 – 9:47 am   Permalink

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