Photobooks: design and publishing

Print-on-demand and self-publishing

The expansion on print-on-demand services now makes self-publishing fairly straightforward. These enable direct sales through companies like Amazon at price mark-ups decided by the photographer. There are a number of services on offer that I looked at:

Review of options:

But the one I chose – it is UK-based and offers the most flexibility together with full integration with Adobe CC Lightroom and InDesign is

This was very competitive on pricing with frequent price reduction deals once you are signed up. Shipping from Netherlands keeps postal costs reasonably low (will Brexit add taxes????) – though it is still more cost-effective to wait and order multiple publications. Blurb has teamed up with Adobe to enable easy compilation of books using plug-ins for Lightroom and InDesign. Blurb has its own software, but this offers less flexibility to edit images as they have to be sized, cropped and processed before they are laid out. The greatest flexibility for editing of the images is given in Lightroom. InDesign allows for much more sophisticated layouts of tiff images that can then be edited in Photoshop.

However the choice of book format and size, and paper stock is still limited compared to professional book publishing services.

Professional bookbinders

Bookbinding is a very specialist craft. Professional bookbinders can offer a range of quality services: mixing paper stocks, customised endpapers, gatefold pages and matching slipcases and boxes. A professional bookbinder can offer advice on materials and other design aspects, such as how easy it will be to physically open your book with your particular choice of paper, and how far your image needs to be printed from the gutter to be viewed properly, for example.

For an overview of different types of binding see  (to be fully developed)

Book design issues

Some points to consider when designing or evaluating

  • Rationale: What is the purpose of the book? What is the main concept? Who is it for? Why do you want to present your work in a book? Is the book format really the most suitable medium in which to present your work? A badly printed or poorly designed book of your photographs will not be as well received as a simpler portfolio of good quality prints.
  • Selection and Editing: Edit your work strictly before even considering the layout.  Do all the images sit comfortably next to each other. Do any seem out of place? Can this be resolved, or should they be omitted?
  • Sequencing: Sequencing is paramount: consider how certain images relate to each other (graphically as well as in terms of the ‘connotations’ of an image, or the juxtaposition of images within the sequence).
  • Text: Will you use text? What will you say? Will the text complement and reinforce the images, or challenge the viewer through contrast or contradiction?
  • Typeface What typeface and style will you use? Pay as much attention to the words and their layout as you do to your photographs. Your choice of typeface communicates a lot about how you want your photographs to be read.

Book Module in Lightroom

Webinar from Blurb

Using InDesign series of videos

Adobe InDesign gives much more control over layout and also links to Blurb, or can be exported to pdf for other Print on Demand services.

For more discussion see my Book Design blog (to be completed by May 2017):