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I'm wondering if anyone out there has experimented with using print-on-demand (POD) websites to make photo books. I used Blurb.com a couple of years ago to put together a photo book. It was easy and fun to do. I've made no sales despite pushing it on social media and blogs, etc., but the book has proven useful for promotional purposes. Plus it "makes a lovely gift," as they say. Has anyone actually made any money with POD books? If so, any secrets to share?

Edited by John Mitchell

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I have made a couple over the years, one of my wife's pictures as a present to her. It was through the Jessops camera store website - CEWE if I recall correctly. It was reasonable quality but nothing startling.

 

The only other one I have used was a freebie with my Flickr account a few years ago, through Snapfish and I wasn't particularly impressed with the quality.

 

I found on both the captioning and layouts very limited, so combined with the quality of the finished article, I wouldn't consider POD as a potential revenue source.

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I have made a couple over the years, one of my wife's pictures as a present to her. It was through the Jessops camera store website - CEWE if I recall correctly. It was reasonable quality but nothing startling.

 

The only other one I have used was a freebie with my Flickr account a few years ago, through Snapfish and I wasn't particularly impressed with the quality.

 

I found on both the captioning and layouts very limited, so combined with the quality of the finished article, I wouldn't consider POD as a potential revenue source.

Have you checked out the Blurb.com book-making software? It's more sophisticated than most of the others I've seen.

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I've used Blurb too - not for a while as the prices seem to have rocketed. I seem to remember having one sale but I doubt I'll ever reach the payout limit. I used to do prints of my favourite images to keep and found doing a Blurb book worked out cheaper. So, I have quite a nice small library of my work but I wouldn't call it a good business move.

 

Considering the price of much bigger books in the shops full of Cartier-Bresson classics, I can't see people paying Blurb prices very often.

Edited by Phil Robinson

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I've used Blurb too - not for a while as the prices seem to have rocketed. I seem to remember having one sale but I doubt I'll ever reach the payout limit. I used to do prints of my favourite images to keep and found doing a Blurb book worked out cheaper. So, I have quite a nice small library of my work but I wouldn't call it a good business move.

 

Considering the price of much bigger books in the shops full of Cartier-Bresson classics, I can't see people paying Blurb prices very often.

Yes, you're probably right about that. Blurb prices are relatively high. POD photo books seem to be a labour of love more than anything else. As mentioned, though, they do come in handy for promotional purposes.

Edited by John Mitchell

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I used Apples service (built into Aperture), the product was very nice but the maths of it all did not work out. Way too expensive. I then looked at Blurb and Adorama for their online sales portals but again the costs to produce anything but a pocket book were too high for it to make sense for me personally. I currently have another "book" in preparation but its just a one off as a gift for someone on a project I have been working on.

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I've used Blurb and Picaboo to make books for myself and family.  Haven't tried selling them though.  Re the prices - now that I'm on Picaboo's mailing list, they keep sending out special discounts.  Good time to get one then.

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I've used mypublisher and Blurb and sold a lot of books.

One was a Limited Edition I did that sold out in 30 days for $90 each.

 

I still have one on Blurb that's also available on iTunes since 2009.

 

L

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I originally made a couple of photo books through Shared Ink, who used high quality materials and the books were very nice.  However I guess it wasn't cost effective and they went out of business.  Then I tried VioVio,  I thought their results were nice and the price is reasonable.   They are called Presto Photo now though:  http://www.prestophoto.com
 

I also just assembled a book through my Zenfolio (premium business) website.  Unfortunately, while I like the book, and having it to show people in person, the completed book doesn't display on the site for others to see so I haven't tried to link to it there.

 

http://rosemaryhawkins.com

Edited by Rosemary Hawkins

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Interesting comments.   I have used Blurb for some time and always been happy with them; provided you prep the files for Blub (Soft Proof in LightRoom) and their layout options are massive and varied as is the paper stock and print size mix.

 

May be not the cheapest - But do you want your work displayed, printed and published cheap? 

 

I have sold many books and it can be a regular income from some events I have covered, and for some time after the event by using the Blurb Marketing system and mailshot to all involved.

 

Finally, if a client wants a large number of prints it almost always works out cheaper to publish a book for them, and this often leads to more sales.

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Finally, if a client wants a large number of prints it almost always works out cheaper to publish a book for them, and this often leads to more sales.

 

It's also a very good way when client's clients want copies of images. You can package them in a book, CEWE via BobBooks or Jessops have nice 'added value', and charge a much higher invoice than you can with just providing a disc of images....and always nice to be paid twice for a job. Nothing says "charge me more" than a leather cover and stay-flat pages........

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Sorry John, I just saw the DPReview report. I didn't pursue it because it is not relevant to me at the moment.

Edited by Martin P Wilson

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Sorry John, I just saw the DPReview report. I didn't pursue it because it is not relevant to me at the moment.

Thanks. I managed to find some info on the Blurb website. Blurb will apparently give you an ISBN number free (limited time offer) -- but they are listed as the publisher -- and put your book on Amazon. However, you have to set prices high in order to make any money because Amazon takes a healthy slice. What do other Blurb users think of this program? Is it worth a try? Any potential pitfalls?

Edited by John Mitchell

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I thought about making and trying to sell at my local farmers market a photobook, but I couldn't really see much of a profit margin if you want to make a book that is more than just the standard number of pages. However, what about taking the middle-man out of the picture and make an e-book, you can sell it for a reasonable price, make it available for download on your website and let people view it on their iPads saving a few trees. Plus you can make as many copies you want for no cost to you. I am in the process of doing just that and with my website software (from Turning Gate) I can offer downloads straight from my website.

Chris

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I bought my own ISBN numbers for cheap..like under $10 a few years ago.

 

epubbud.com

 

 

The US Gov use to dole them out for about $3 each when I was publishing a magazine in the mid-1990s.

Then they sold that to Bowker that makes you buy in quantity for a few hundreds dollars.

 

So I guess epubbud is a eeseller

 

 

L

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A good way to profit from the POD sites is to purchase in quantity when they have a sale or 2 for 1 deal.

 

L

Edited by Linda

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A good way to profit from the POD sites is to purchase in quantity when they have a sale or 2 for 1 deal.

 

L

Yes, since I'm my own best customer, I've taken advantage of some of Blurb's special deals. Nothing like stocking up on your own creations. You never know when they might come in handy.

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However, what about taking the middle-man out of the picture and make an e-book

 

I haven't looked into this in detail, but wouldn't this make it easier to steal images (unless you watermark them which is going to spoil the look of any book)?

 

And do people actually buy photographic e-books? Historically a lot of the reason for buying photo books is the look and feel of the book itself as well as the appeal of the photos.

 

Alan

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I used Apples service (built into Aperture), the product was very nice but the maths of it all did not work out. Way too expensive. I then looked at Blurb and Adorama for their online sales portals but again the costs to produce anything but a pocket book were too high for it to make sense for me personally. I currently have another "book" in preparation but its just a one off as a gift for someone on a project I have been working on.

 

I used Aperture for a photo book one time, but it was for a client, thus I marked it up and made a decent profit over the shoot itself. But for publishing books for sale, it's not worth it.

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