August 19, 2014 Last Updated 11:47 am

Blurb announces new lower priced trade books options, Ingram initiative that expands global distribution potential

Each Monday (and occasionally on Tuesday!) TNM looks at books and book publishing – either a new book on the publishing industry, a new digital book release, or industry news 

The book publishing service and platform Blurb today announced the new initiatives designed to assist authors and small publishers extend their reach and increase the profitability of their print and eBook projects.

Blurb, which recently introduced an offset printing solution, is now offering three new standard trade book size options… 5 × 8 inch (13×20 cm), 6 × 9 inch (15×23 cm) and 8 × 10 inch (21×26 cm). The books are between 40 and 50 percent less expensive, according to the company’s CEO, and are printed on uncoated, text-weight paper.

products-02-pocket-trade-booksThe company has also announced a new initiative with Ingram which will make Blurb created books and eBooks available via 39,000 locations worldwide at retail and online stores. Authors and publisher can offer three levels of discounts to encourage retailers to pick up their books: 25, 36 or 55 percent.

“Our collaboration with Ingram will be especially welcome for Blurb’s global authors, as they will now be able to make their books available for distribution within their home markets virtually everywhere in the world,” said Eileen Gittins, founder and CEO, Blurb.
The third new initiative involves reflowable eBooks. A new beta eBook program will allow authors and publishers to import an RTF file for output for the Kindle. The RTF import system will create a .mobi file for submission to Kindle Direct Publishing, all free of charge. Blurb continues to offer its desktop app, Blurb Bookwright, for creating files via word processing tools.

Blurb, which recently took over the management of Hewlett-Packard’s Magcloud solution, has been expanding the book and eBook production solutions it can offer authors, publishers and corporate clients – moving beyond the photo book printing many still think of when they think of the company.

Blurb was launched in 2005 when its founder, Eileen Gittins, was searching for a way to publish a photo essay. At first she considered launching a website, but began exploring publishing a short run book. “Why don’t I make a book, seriously how hard can that be?” Gittins told TNM.

“I knew all the technology existed,” Gittins said. “I had built to two internet companies so I thought ‘seriously, desktop publishing meets digital printing, meets an ecom engine on the back-end, really? why is this not there?'”

Gittins looked at the existing vanity press and thought those businesses were basically preying on independent authors, charging a fortune for just a couple of books. But in order to make Blurb work as a business it needed to come up with a way it could publish a single  book and still make a profit.

Blurb quickly found a customer base among photographers and others producing graphics intense books – an area where high quality printing was important. This got the attention of businesses who wanted to produce books for marketing reasons.

“Because of the quality, all kinds of commercial people came to our door,” Gittins said. “These were businesses like Nike and Pixar… a lot of books for wrap parties – for after a movie production is completed – everyone who worked on the film would get a beautiful book. Those kinds of things were happening.”

Then, requests for higher volume led to seeking an offset printing solution.

“Once we had that, then authors started to come because all of a sudden the unit economics, their cost basis on the books, made it possible and reasonable for them to make a profit one each copy sold.”

Gittins says many book projects are funded through Kickstarter campaigns.

OnePerson-BlurbOne of those, for instance, was One Person Rally: I Have Something to Say from Petra Sith. Sith raised enough funds to produce a small run of books through Blurb for those that supported the crowdfunding effort. Books, printed through Blurb, were distributed to Kickstarter contributors. Then an interactive eBook was created by TNM Digital Media, the publisher of Talking New Media, for distribution through the iBooks Store. The print book, which is still available through Blurb and was created using the older options, costs $39.99 – a price that could be significantly lowered through Blurb’s new options.

While Blurb sees authors using its printing and eBook services for both fiction and nonfiction books, more projects involve nonfiction, Gittins told TNM. But with the new trade book options, and the added distribution opportunities, the service could be more attractive for authors of fiction works. Ingram will greatly expand international distribution, something that is very important as Gittins points out that 52-53 percent of the business Blurb has is international.

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