What if you ever want to make just one copy of a book?
Perhaps you have written a novel that you’d like to see in print (but don’t want to sell), or want to see how your book looks when bound and printed.
Or perhaps you’ve written a story that you only want to give to one person, or something that you’re planning to only share with your family (such as a children’s story you wrote for your own kids).
I was asked about this the other day, and thought that it was an interesting idea, so I did some searching. Almost instantly, I found one site that looks really promising.
Note: I am not associated with and do not receive anything from Blurb, and just found it as an interesting opportunity. Some of the following sounds like a sales pitch, but that’s more because I was excited by their marketing than anything else.
I’m not normally a fan of self-publishing. In general, if a novel is good enough to be published, a publisher is likely to pay you for your work. However, when your only goal is to print off a limited number of copies for a limited usage, sometimes self-publishing can make sense.
Blurb is a publisher that allows you to either use their BookSmart application, or upload your own PDF file that already looks the way you want. This flexibility is an important feature: you can have as much control as you like.
Once you’ve uploaded your file and decided what type of book you’re creating (page size, paper quality, etc), you then get to control whether it stays private, is available by invitation only, or is sold publicly.
As an aside, if your intention is to sell your work publicly, it’s probably better to go with a traditional publisher (since they have a marketing team dedicated to selling your book). Selling your own work is a tough business, and takes time away from what you do best: writing!
However, the fact that Blurb allows you to control who sees your work is an excellent feature.
For example, let’s say that you write a book for your kids (with no intention of going farther). One day, a friend (or one of their kids) comes by and happens to pick up the book.
They love it!
They ask where you got it, and you decide that maybe you’ll invite them to order a copy. They tell their friends, and several more are interested. Eventually, you decide to make it publicly available. Maybe you don’t make a million dollars, but you might make a stream of income from something you originally intended just for your family.
Blurb allows you to do this.
Looking through their bookstore, there do appear to be some good books available (mostly oriented around photography, from the appearances).
But again, let’s say that you just want one copy.
Blurb lets you do that too.
How much does it cost?
That depends on the size of the book you’re creating. The prices start at $5 for a 40 page black and white text paperback, and go up from there. For a typical children’s book, the price might be $20 for a 40-page 8″x10″ paperback, and $30 for a hardcover. There’s no minimum order size, so you can indeed just order one book, though there are discounts for larger orders.
All-in-all, Blurb looks like an excellent service. I don’t have any kids yet, but when I do, I may be creating some children’s books that could very well end up on Blurb. After all, at least at first, I’ll be saying, “Just one copy, please.”
All prices were correct as of 1/31/2010.