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sep 15 2010

(Finally!) A coffee table-worthy photo book

As a photo editor, I never thought very highly about the custom photo books available online. When I looked into them, the books felt cheap, or the image quality wasn't any good. For me to go through the trouble of making a photo book, I wanted to be sure I'd have a finished product that I'd want to display on my coffee table, and pick up and thumb through.

Then, over the past year, photographers started submitting a whole new class of professional-looking books of their work from a company called Blurb. The finished volumes were so good-looking that I had to make one for myself. So after a trip to Ethiopia and Zanzibar with my wife and some friends, I pooled together my images, downloaded the free software, and got to work.

I was impressed that:

1. The software was easy to use. The templates were there, yet they were completely customizable if I wanted to change them myself.

2. If you use the Blurb Color Profile, the print quality is stunning. This function allows you to adjust each individual image to get the best color reproduction. (If you take the images directly from your camera without doing any sort of tweaking, quite often the images will look flat and not as saturated when they print.)

3. The finished book felt sturdy and professional.

4. I had the option to go with better paper. Premium paper's important because it helps to prevent bleed through (where you see the faint outline of the image that is printed on the other side of the page.)

5. They have a lot of different pricing options, and I could go big or small with my book. Prices range from $12.95 (for a softcover with 20-40 pages) to $119.95 (for hardcover with 160 pages)

6. I can share my book (the finished version's a 13" x 11" hardback with a jacket cover and 160 pages of premium luster paper) with people via a free online slideshow. How cool is that?

The results were so impressive that when we gave a copy to my wife's parents, they said, "Oh, a book on Ethiopia," mistaking it for something we picked up from Barnes & Noble. When they saw our names on the cover, they burst into tears. So now the book's not only proudly displayed on our coffee table, it's also got pride of place on theirs.

You guys are such avid travel photographers, I just had to share. So what do you think of the finished result?

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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