Discussions (631)

Success selling books through Blurb? Or will these things be old school?

zippy growth [deleted] says:

Is anyone having any kind of commercial success selling books one at a time through Blurb?

I am still on the fence about producing and selling books because for what the price structure currently is set at, how many will pay for a photo book once a decent markup is added?

Anyone here selling over one hundred books? Two hundred?

I am starting to believe that the days of hard cover books are winding down. They won't ever be obsolete but just as less people buy newspapers, less people will buy paper books and instead be buying e-versions of them.

The technology is almost there to make e-book readers affordable and now I am seriously considering producing e-books instead of paper just to be ahead of the curve when things really come online.

It might be easier to manage sales, downloads, etc with e-books and I have a feeling the profit would be considerably higher with no middle man and no paper or printing costs involved.

Thoughts?
9:26AM, 2 September 2009 PDT (permalink)

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LenardFisher.com says:

I have just published my first book "www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/836835" I have had aprox 400 hits in just two weeks but no sales. I feel sure that it is a nice book and the subject is of interest. I believe the reason I have not sold any is because after adding a profit it is too expensive. It might even be too expensive with out the profit. The book is of good quality, in this I am pleased.
I am not educated in e- books but that might be the way.
Check out my book if you will and give me your ideas also.
Thanks Lenard
118 months ago (permalink)

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LenardFisher.com says:

I checked out your photo stream, great work. I hope to do so well.
Lenard
118 months ago (permalink)

zippy growth [deleted] says:

Lenard, I just checked out your book and you're right about the price. It is prohibitive to most. I priced out what I wanted to do and found it to be great for a portfolio product but not for merchandising.

Dan
118 months ago (permalink)

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LenardFisher.com says:

Do you think it is the price, what should the price be on this sort of book. What did you think of the book?
I would like to do more and I do have other interesting ideas, but if you can not sell them?
118 months ago (permalink)

zippy growth [deleted] says:

When I am in a bookstore, I probably won't spend more than $50 on a photo book.

Blurb is wonderful for producing gift books or to present a portfolio but the pricing is out of whack for selling in great numbers, ie, unless you produce a small ones.

I think we are not too far away from e-books overtaking paper books in sales just as it now is in music.
118 months ago (permalink)

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Clare Selley says:

Well, my photobook that's being published by a traditional publisher will be RRP £16.99 (about $27.87) - it's 8.25x8.25, hardcover, 192 pages. The equiv Blurb book (well, smaller 7x7) would be about £25 ($44)... From discussions with publisher, the best 'price point' for a photobook is under £20 - they always aim for that kind of price as that's what people will spend...

Hope that helps...
118 months ago (permalink)

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Clare Selley says:

I will say, however, that I think photobooks never translate to ebook readers very well, if at all... So I think photobooks will always be physical books - either hardcover or soft... And HC always seems to have more 'quality' about them.
118 months ago (permalink)

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LenardFisher.com says:

Does Blurb have the margin to reduce its cost to us that would allow us into the market place? Hard question, to be answered by Blurb I guess.
118 months ago (permalink)

zippy growth [deleted] says:

Clare, what you say about quality is true. However, just as the early iPods were clumsy and expensive, in short time, technology improved to the point where everyone seems to have them

I think we are coming to that point for eBook readers. It would be a mistake to judge future ebooks by today's technology.

People can already get Time magazine on their iPhones and iPods. That is one small step in the direction of mainstream paperless publishing.

Soon we, the creators will hold the cards not publishers.

Lenard, as for Blurb, I don't think their business model is geared to low cost, large volume publishing. For that kind of printing an old fashioned offset press is still the most economical. Blurb is great for a portfolio or a gift book but as a business model, too expensive. The only one making money there is Blurb, I think.
118 months ago (permalink)

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Clare Selley says:

However, there's something to be said for large printed photographs... :)
118 months ago (permalink)

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loricherokee says:

I agree with last post. I love to look at printed photographs, especially really good ones. I take tons of photos & they're all saved on disks which can be viewed by anyone at any time but I still like to look at the books. I've done 2 Blurb books. They're in the bookstore but no one has bought one. I also have bought several photobooks even tho I have less room to house them.
118 months ago (permalink)

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boscoppa says:

I think the cost of a photobook is a little too high for someone to buy one as an impulse purchase, especially after the author has added a markup. People are only likely to buy them if they have a personal connection to the photos (e.g. wedding photos, family photos, holiday photos etc). But I don't think the blurb itself is expensive, in fact I think it is the best value photobook service I have used.
The reason for this cost is probably due to a book having to be printed each time it is ordered. Publishers can sell them cheaper because they print the books in large batches, reducing the printing costs, reducing the cost of each book, while maintaining their profit margins.
If you really wanted to sell your photobook for cheaper, I believe Blurb do give discounts on large orders, which you could then sell yourself, but obviously that's a big investment.
118 months ago (permalink)

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Clare Selley says:

Yep, I'd agree with that - I'd use Blurb as a portfolio maker (and probably will) but I don't think it works as a mass-selling tool.

The other point is, with Blurb you have to do all your marketing yourself, a bricks & mortar store won't stock without an ISBN (and neither will Amazon) and it's just not feasible...

I think there probably are successful POD photobooks out there, but it isn't the best way to go... If you think you have a marketable photobook (i.e. not 'what I did on my holidays', but more 'the beautiful wildlife of Zar' with detailed information and so on) then approach a traditional publisher & hope you get lucky.

Especially in the recession I can't see people spending the amount Blurb charge - especially with the markup. Although via a traditional publisher you'd probably only get £1-£2 per book sold anyway in royalities... :)
118 months ago (permalink)

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ellene000 says:

i have a book on Blurb. i have two sales through the site and probably 600 lookers. the link: www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/770516

i have sold 10 outside of Blurb (w/ BLURB: i save the 10% on orders over 10 and the shipping cost is lower). i really have not marketed the book except friends and neighbors. I am considering taking the book to street fairs with my other photos.

Yes, Blurb makes all the money (hey, because may profit is under $25 they do not even give me that money) so more money to BLURB.

i feel the book is too short (and expensive on Blurb), it should be at least 80 pages (that can be achieved by speading the photos out and adding more commentary.

i also am trying to make the book an ART PIERCE, which i can do when i distribute direct. By that i mean i limit the total sales and each book getting a uniqie number and signature (like an art print).

i also have another idea. Like musicans selling their music at the concerts, they bring a CD to sell. Well, i am producing a CD (well, really a DVD) of the book with individual photos to be printed or used as a slideshow. So the book would come with a DVD or i can sell the DVD separately.
118 months ago (permalink)

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Violentz says:

I've sold dozens of my first book, but subsequent books didn't sell so well, but I always get a small check from Blurb each month without even trying.
118 months ago (permalink)

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LenardFisher.com says:

ooooh isn't that nice.
118 months ago (permalink)

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The Other Pete says:

They call them coffee table books for a reason, don't they? I can't really see anyone setting their Kindle out on the coffee table to show off to their guests. So what's the value of an electronic photo book?

Book publishing has always been a tough racket and it doesn't get any easier just because you're trying to sell an electronic version. In fact, it gets harder, since you then have to compete with all the other forms of electronic entertainment out there.

I think the real issue is with how people buy books. I don't know anyone who just hangs out on Amazon browsing. They go to Borders to do that. They may then buy it online once they've decided they'll pay for it, but it's the physical experience that prompts the purchase. Impulse purchasing online comes from following a link somewhere else and usually favors nonfiction books on hot topics. Logically, if you want to sell books, you've got to make sure there are links to follow out there. That's marketing. And it helps a lot if you've published a book with such a broad appeal (e.g., a book of nudes or celebrity portraits) that anyone who clicks on it is highly likely to buy it.

None of which is new. It's the same stuff publishers have been dealing with for 100 years. Electronic media has just made it more so.
118 months ago (permalink)

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Mostly Wildlife says:

I've sold alot more (100+) outside of Blurb than I have through the website, but in total, I have sold 12 through the website from people I do not know, nor know who bought them. Oh, and with the exception of one guy in Canada that bought it off the website and then emailed me to let me know that he loved the book.

The Storm of 2008 Book: Front Cover

Depending on what your book is about, find local shops and art gallery's and try to work out some sort of consignment deal with them. That way people will have a chance to actually see and hold the book before they decide upon it. Make some MOO cards and place them by the book with a link to your website. On the website, dedicate a page to the book. Talk about the book and link them to the blurb page where they can buy a copy. If they don't buy it from the consignment deal, maybe they will go to your website later and follow ordering info from there.

Advertise it.

Tell your friends to tell their friends. Word of mouth is effective advertising if done right.

Even a crappy blog lacking updates will due, just so long as you can point people to it.

Order no less than 10 from blurb so you get the discount.
Originally posted 118 months ago. (permalink)
Mostly Wildlife edited this topic 118 months ago.

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andere ansicht says:

I sold 3 books of mine (quite poor - even if i got great feedback by all the people that have seen it.) - I think it's all about finding it. (bad navigation for so many books there at blurb). so i am really disapointed.

And i miss the connection to amazon as a business driver application.

greetings
marc
118 months ago (permalink)

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Shawn Woods says:

Africa Safari Promo Lion Pride by Shawn Woods


Hello! This is a great thread. I just recently self-published my first book too. My wife and I traveled to Africa in early 2009 to visit Tanzania and Zanzibar. What an amazing life experience!

My book is a photo journal. I tried not to make it *too personal so that it would appeal to everyone. It has memorbable moments, over 300 photos, 160 pages and some informative and educational text about Africa like learning some Swahili.

As people have mentioned, selling your book through Blurb is very difficult. A new book is uploaded so often that you easily get pushed back in pages. I am hoping that by posting my photos on Flickr, and building a custom one-page website, I can drive traffic to the book.

My experience creating the book with Blurb was great. I am an experience Graphic Designer but I wanted to keep this simple and used Blurb's Booksmart. For a simple program, I found it quite powerful and easy to use. I wish it had basic photo editing tools like color correction, rotation, etc though. I have to update a few photos that printed too dark and the only way to do it is by re-uploading the entire book under a new link.

Anyways, comments welcome!

Cheers,
Shawn
117 months ago (permalink)

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RoyalEF says:

I sold five books to other people who saw the book in person first. They went to the website and ordered, or I ordered the books for them. I sold none through the webstore to strangers. I expected to sell none, cause the price is exhorbitant.

The new beta feature of full/customized previews will fix one issue. How many people will buy a $30-$70 book based upon 15 pages, some of which are blanks, copyright pages and may show almost none of the draw of the book. I never saw a book I was willing to plunck down that kind of money, practically unseen.
117 months ago (permalink)

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The tamed shrew says:

If mine ever reaches me (Scotland) via its circuitous route so far, I am tempted to go elsewhere, because of the dispatch method used.
117 months ago (permalink)

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Kat White says:

I've sold five books online just using networking, self promotion. I have sold a couple more of my physical books to people who wanted it signed. I like others use it for the discount, and sell the book in the flesh. People are much more willing to fork out $40 when they can see the quality.
117 months ago (permalink)

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shazymo says:

I never expected to sell any thru the site, as like most of you all agree, it is way too expensive. 2 years ago it was something new and exciting, and worth the money I think, but there are so many other companies out there doing it now that I think Blurb is overpriced.
I love the 6 books I have done, but am going to explore other avenues to see if the quality is there too.
117 months ago (permalink)

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2HandzUp1913 says:

Does anyone care to share what other companies they have used to publish a photo book and what was their experience (price, quality, format ease, options available)?
117 months ago (permalink)

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Bike Rally Photography says:

Hi everyone! Great thread. I've done two books now with Blurb and am very satisfied with the quality, but like everyone else the price makes them hard to sell. On the other hand though it didn't cost me but the price of one book to get it out to the public. With the on demand publishing at least you have a product to try and promote with very little overhead. But the fact is you are going to have to sell it yourself, no doubt about that.

As far as ordering a large quantity, say ten books, do you really want to tie that much money up for the potential profit ten books would bring. I think the fact is that the on demand publishing has to be seen as a way to promote yourself and your photos, not as a revenue stream. The only way it could potentially bring in a very modest income would be if you had a very specific market; wedding, family history, festival, etc. But even then you are going to have to do some serious promoting.

Violentz said he has sold dozens of books, and gets a small check every month. I wish he would've given us his blurb site. I would love to know how to sell dozens and what book he is selling. I've only sold 4 books through the website and 4 on my own with a lot of effort and very little to show for it. I've come to realize it is a tool for promoting my photography and not a serious revenue generator. But if there is anyone who has had success PLEASE SHARE.

Good luck everyone!!!

You can check-out my books at www.BikeRallyBooks.com and my book on Alaska at www.blurb.com/user/twemple. If everyone who has posted so far would buy just one of my books I would double my sales (Ya!!!) and maybe even get that $20 dollars Blurb is still holding for me. LOL
117 months ago (permalink)

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Navas says:

2HandzUp1913 I've done one book through Blurb and one (almost identical set of photos) with Apple, using their Aperture software. I have written about my initial experiences of using the software on my blog. I have now received both books and have yet to do a more detailed analysis (too many other things going on right now), but both books are super quality (I got premium paper with Blurb), the Apple book is slightly bigger. Will return and put more info on my blog at a point when things here calm down.
Bike Rally Photography, you can search for Violentz on Blurb and then you'll see why he's selling books :-)
117 months ago (permalink)

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Shawn Woods says:

Has anyone used Amazon's Booksurge company? www.booksurge.com/

The benefit of Amazon is that you get posted into their online shopping network, complete with an ISBN, etc. Its a little costly to start though.

I'd like to try it sometime but I used Blurb's Booksmart so I would have to re-create the entire book in a proper design program to submit it. Something I have no time or energy to do at this point. Creating books is a lot of fun, but so time consuming!

I also looked into a Canadian company called Photobook. www.photobookcanada.com/?pg=index
Their quality looks better than Blurb going off the photos online but I have never seen a printed product. I chose Blurb because the price was right. My same book would have cost $500 according to Photobook's price list (my book is 160 page, premium paper).

Shawn
www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/859778
117 months ago (permalink)

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The Roaming RED says:

Hi! I just published a book through blurb that is a photo journal. It's 110 pages, but with lot o' photos. Only 2 people have bought it because of the crazy princes as well. Does anyone know if it is possible to get the book printed with someone else (cheaper) even though I made it in BookSmart and spent tons of time making it there? :(

www.blurb.com/user/store/Apryl00
102 months ago (permalink)

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Global Villager says:

I just published amy first blurb book. No sales yet, but as Lenard said, it seems that the price is out of most people's budget to just get a photo book. I think Blurb should try to find a way so they can charge less thus promote more books to be sold.

www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1893161
99 months ago (permalink)

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r.sail says:

it's vanity press. that's just how it goes.
you don't get one off printed books of any quality for cheap.
also, who are you? why should someone buy your book?
why did you make this book? why is it of interest to anyone?

you need to build up an audience before you start making and expecting to sell your book. I've been selling my book through the online store.
not a ton, but enough that I'm happy.

track down the discount codes and let people know about them. even the free shipping code adds some incentive. 20% off helps, too.

to be honest though, most of my friends in real life aren't going to buy my art book. I don't know why; I'd buy their book.

anyway, just some food for thought. market the hell out of it the best way you can. order bulk and sell them in small local book stores.

here's my book: www.blurb.com/my/book/detail/2101111
Originally posted 99 months ago. (permalink)
r.sail edited this topic 99 months ago.

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Martin Creese says:

www.blurb.com/user/store/Martincreese

I've done three Blurb Books now and made them publically available . Two were very niche interest but because of that have sold a few copies . There isn't a lot of profit in it for me but it's nice to know that I've created and sold my own book

It does require a lot of self promotion , trying to find forums , and I have my own Blog as well martincreese.railnuts.com/ as ell as a Facebook page
Originally posted 97 months ago. (permalink)
Martin Creese edited this topic 97 months ago.

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kiltarn says:

Well we all seem to be unanimous on one thing
The price(even with a very small mark-up) plus postage,just makes it too expensive for people to gamble on.
I published my book (an Art Book) two years ago,there has been lots of enthusiastic comments,and hits,but no sales.
Of coarse friends and family loved it,but as the only artist,I am the only one who buys Art books.
Fellow Artists like it,but none will shell out for a book (at that price) on a whim.

Another problem (as mentioned) My book is only 100 pages,but with p/p puts it over the £20 average spend.
What's known as
between a rock and a hard place.
97 months ago (permalink)

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Martin Creese says:

Like any book it doesn't just sell itself . also this is POD not a print run . No financial risk but don't expect real bulk prices . As others have said you really really have to market your books but also ask yourself , is anyone going to want to but my book and how do I tell people about it
97 months ago (permalink)

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Thomas Leuthard says:

I have seven books published so far, but no sale at all. I still like Blurb as the books are nice and the feature to show them on my website is cool:

www.85mm.ch/books.html

If you want to see my books, here are some:

www.blurb.com/books/2085994
www.blurb.com/books/1503386
96 months ago (permalink)

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BorealisOutdoor says:

I know that this thread has been inactive for some time, but I've just started taking a closer look at Blurb and can't figure out a viable business model. Mainly, I can't see how anyone can sell Blub books as part of their business, as long Blub blabs your wholesale cost to your customers. So, there's tremendous pressure on photographers to sell their books at cost, just to get sales; no opportunity to recover the cost of the time and labour spent preparing the book and marketing it. Some, such as wedding photographers, could factor those costs into their initial fee. Others might find sponsors to pay for those costs, giving credit on the cover and inside the book, but what if the sponsor demands a number of books equivalent in value to the sponsorship? I dunno, as much as I love my work, I don't love it so much that I'd give up paying the mortgage and stop eating for it. Even creative types have to make a living.
82 months ago (permalink)

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