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Blurb books July 21, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Online Tools.
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blurb   If you have ever been a yearbook coordinator at a high school or printed just about anything, you know the more you print the cheaper the product becomes. I recall telling my student sales staff at the first high school I ever taught at that we only needed to sell one book. Of course, it would cost ten thousand dollars but we would still break even. That news, and the quick calculations they made, motivated them to sell as many books as they could to lower the price per unit.

Flash forward to today and companies like blurb.com who will print your books for you in beautiful paper, with a hard binding and even a full color dust cover. This is a much easier thing to do these days with software you can download onto your own computer. You could install programs like Quark but the seven hundred dollar price tag might be off putting.

The interesting thing about blurb.com is their business model. The first book will cost, let us say, thirty-five dollars depending on the number of pages. If you were producing the book on a massive scale, a few thousand copies perhaps, the price would drop and you would be able to sell the book at a lower price and make a profit. Blurb.com will charge the same price per book for the first as they do for the one hundredth. This makes sense. It is a vanity press and the company is trying to make money. I suspect they lose money if they were only to make one book but when you take into account that most people will want more than one copy of their masterpiece for friends, family, and posterity, and then the price seems almost reasonable.

We have a family blog I considered printing myself last year and binding as a Christmas or New Year’s gift to our family. My product would have been adequate but this product promises to be a professional looking book in all respects. I may just have to try it out to see for myself.

The long-range impact could easily be short but beloved books about family events, business projects, retirements, marriages, and anniversaries. Just when people begin to decry the end of books and their replacement by electrons and video monitors, the traditional need to speak and be heard continues unabated with blogs, wikis, web pages,  and e-mail. Now, computer technology is aiding in the creation of our legacy in ways that we might not have anticipated before.

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