PDF to Book review

It used to be called ‘vanity publishing’ but in the internet era, self-publishing has been legitimised. We now have services that allow you to print books on demand – Blurb leads the way. You create your book, Blurb prints it and you can then share, promote or sell it online with your own mark-up above a base price. It’s a great way to get your work out there and – even if it doesn’t sell – there’s little impact on your pocket.

Now Blurb has introduced a service that gives you full creative control over the bookmaking process: PDF to Book. PDF has long been the pre-press format of the digital age, thanks to its support in authoring tools and its WYSIWYG nature. With PDF to Book, you get Blurb-compatible blank templates that you can use to put your book together in Adobe InDesign which is – whisper so the folks at Quark don’t hear – pretty close to being the industry standard for digital page layout.

Once your book’s laid out you upload the finished product, through a series of tight quality control checks, to be printed. There are six formats to choose from, from black and white text (for a novel, say) to large square (for a glossy coffee book-style publication).

If you don’t have access to InDesign, you’re not left out in the cold. Blurb publishes detailed data on the dimensions required to create compatible book layouts in any DTP package and a step-by-step guide on how to do it all. It also hopes to offer templates for other design programs soon.

OUR VERDICT

We’ve been unable to fully test the process ourselves – it’s quite a commitment to create, lay out and publish a book even with this simple process – but feedback online from those who have suggests that this is a very professional choice. If you’re looking to produce a coffee table book, rich in visual imagery and indistinguishable from prestige commercial offerings, we suggest you give it a go.

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