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Michael Meyer

Brooks, I use POD services but don't expect any sales to come from them. Even if I were trying to sell them, I don't think I'd be able to make any significant profit without selling a huge number--and if I were selling so many, why not just self-publish and self-distribute the books(or distribute through mainstream channels)? In that sense, POD isn't an attractive proposition.

I've found two ways that POD works for me:

First, I publish a semi-regular magazine through MagCloud, which is for small sets of images that aren't part of larger projects. They're experiments or jottings that I want to put into finished form so I can get them out of my head. I list them for sale through MagCloud's store but also offer them as a free download. Roughly a dozen people download the issues each month, though none have ever purchased one. And I am, honestly, ok with that.

My second use for POD is as the basis for small run artists books and fine art or commercial self-promotion pieces. I am in the midst of printing a book (again through MagCloud) which will be handworked after I receive it and then sent to a handful of artist friends, curators and other connections within my arts world. This book won't be offered for sale through the POD publisher; I am using them only as a printing service. In this case, the POD service is an affordable way to print roughly 20-30 copies of a small publication. (I've done books like this on my inkjet as well, and it gets costly quickly.)

Make money selling books via POD? Not so much. Use those services as tools to push my photography forward? All the time.

Cemal Ekin

Brooks, speaking for myself I will say you are mostly right. Although I have used services similar to Blurb, my recent printer has been MagCloud since 2010. One publication I assigned two special study course students sold over 150 copies, it was mainly purchased by photographers who submitted their work and the dean of our school who was very impressed by the student's work. We did have total outsiders buying the magazine too. See it at the following link, and remember it was a class project and they did a very fine job:

Another one I published with countable sales was that of Hagia Sophia Experience. I believe the magnificent structure itself was the reason behind the sales.

Your observation is quite valid for my other publications, they sold but not enough to mention like the two above.


Markus Spring

A similar experience here, Brooks. I was the only customer for my Batticaloa Fishermen (o.k. I bought quite a number as presents), and in comparison with nowadays options - Batticaloa Fishermen was made in 2009 - the print quality simply is not that good, as the raster is clearly visibly on each page.

I tend much more to create pdfs, either in book form or even better in folio form. The latter format I've developed from what I have seen here in lenswork, and the image quality is much better (even when using c-prints and not inkjet prints), that I don't want to bother with Blurb and the like any more.

But for my work and my output, I've also come to the conclusion, that photobooks are not the optimal form for presentation. Folios in folders I found more adequate for what I do.

David Blanchard

I have only produced one "book" with Blurb. Subject matter was all the images from a show I did in 2010. I did it to test out their service and get an idea on the process of creating the book. I made lots of blunders of various sorts in the process and was pretty disappointed in the result (not Blurb's fault). That was then. After much digging around in my bookshelf today I located the book and looked it over. The passage of time has dulled my disappointment and I'm rather pleased with what I see.

I am a member of a coop gallery in Saratoga, CA. I am committed to put up "new" work every month. I usually succeed. Problem is that most of that work comes home the following month. I'm sure that none of you folks have this problem :-), but I now have a garage full of unsold matted work. I need my garage back.

I intend to either dis-mat the prints and put them in glassine binders OR create Blurb year books (bigger images than #1) and then burn the prints (Yes, that will be really painful). I don't expect to sell any extra books, but my storage problem becomes much more manageable.

Larry Monczka


I put together my first Blurb book a few months ago. I was very pleased with the quality of the results. The book is a collection of nature images of our local area . Since I am on a county Studio Tour for a weekend each year, I have sold 12 copies to local folks who drop in for the tour. The problem is that my cost is close to $50 and my mark-up is only to $60 if I want the book to move as an impulse purchase. The idea is to collect orders for custom prints from images in the book--so it's a loss leader in that sense.

I'm still waiting for print orders, ( sigh) , but the design and layout has been a fun learning experience.

Ronald Westphal

I meet weekly with friends to show off our work ( and to have breakfast). They comment on this and that and I listen. I take the photos that were discussed and give them each a book for Christmas. Nicer than having to print 80 prints five times over. I agree that trying to sell them is a waste of time, money and counter productive.

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