Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Why I don't use an eReader--and hopefully never will

There are several technologies that have changed my life.  The move to CCDs and digital photography revolutionized the photo business and enabled companies like Corbis, where I spent 8 years scanning film and building the huge digital collection.  Electrophotographic print devices like HP Indigo, Xerox iGen, and Canon CLC proved that you didn't have to use silver halide materials to create one-off image-intensive prints and paved the way for the mass personalization that is so prevalent today. The Internet changed forever how we do business, and the smartphone changed the style in which that business is done.

If I had tried to imagine what my work life today would be like back when I was running a professional photo lab in the 80's I don't think I would have come close.  Keeping an eye on Blurb's global print network means that I'm at various parts of the country and the world at any given time, and the sun never sets on places where we do business.  Questions and issues don't wait for regular business hours and have to be managed in real time.  I don't think I'm exaggerating when I say that the business I'm in could not exist in it's current form without the free-flowing communication that mobile devices bring.

But there is a downside of course.  Since I am remote from Blurb's headquarters I'm on the phone a lot.  Always.  Every day.  And because of this I've lost my ability to have a non-business phone conversation without trying to figure out how to end it quickly.  Talking on the phone has become synonymous with work.

It's very much the same with things I read.  During the week I take all of my news on-line, but on the weekends I crave my paper New York Times.  I even save some parts of the Sunday times to read during the week so I can savor it a bit.

Reading anything on a screen puts me into "work mode".  It's a sickness that I can't kick, the bit of OCD that serves me well when dealing with business but puts me in exactly the wrong space if I want to read for pleasure.  That's why I don't have a Kindle or a Nook.  I do have an iPad but I use it for "consumable" reading and to keep the weight of what I carry from town to town at a minimum.

I know that eBooks are what most folks talk about and I'm excited to see the possibilities that exist to new authors that did not in the past when publishers held all of the cards.  But to me a "transmissive" experience equals work or research and a "reflective" one equates to reading on my own terms.

Technology has indeed changed my life quite a bit.  But I'm determined to not allow it to completely run my life.  And reading books with ink on paper is my small rejection of a completely digital world.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Uncoated paper options at Blurb

At Blurb we've been in the final stages of judging for the fourth annual Photography Book Now international juried book competition.  It's always an exciting time as we wait to find out who the winners are and have one more chance to review the thousands of fabulous entries.  The competition is great for the artists that have the opportunity to have their work reviewed by a top-notch group of judges. But it's really good for us as well as we get lots of valuable feedback on what our highly creative customers need.

This year the big deal is the addition of Blurb ProLine, offering those submitting work to stand out from the crowd with options on book papers, end sheets, and cover linens.  While all of these options have been widely used by PBN entrants, the judges were most struck by the addition of our ProLine Uncoated Paper.  Which leads to the question, "what exactly is the difference between coated and uncoated papers"?

In general, uncoated papers have a bit more of a "natural" feel to them. A bit toothy.  Like what you would expect stationary paper to feel like.  Coated papers basically fill in the gaps in the natural fibers with a coating that enhances it's ability to hold ink with less dot gain, or spreading of the ink beyond where it is laid down on the paper.

When we were looking for a more natural look for artsy books, we knew we wanted an uncoated option.  But we wanted to limit the downside from a quality standpoint.  The obvious choice for us was the Mohawk Superfine Eggshell Ultrawhite with i-Tone surface treatment. Developed for digital presses, this paper has the feel we wanted but with excellent ink adhesion and durability.

ProLine Uncoated is a substantial 100# text/148 gsm sheet, perfect for high-end, photo intensive books.  But there are times that you want to add a bit of color to a more text-heavy option as well.  To that end we have recently released our new Color Trade and Pocket choices.  These are the same sizes and bindings as our one-color product line, but with the addition of 4-color printing.  The paper is complementary to our off-white, one-color paper, and is white with a vellum finish.  It's a lighter-weight sheet at 60# text/89 gsm, and you will see a bit more dot gain in this product.  But it's great for lower-fi applications like notebooks, memoirs, travel books, mini portfolios, and novels.  And we've kept the price low so you can buy a lot or sell for some bucks.

Whatever paper you choose, we want you to be able to find one that will enhance your vision.  ProLine and Color Trade and Pocket are just a couple of new ways to make your book your own.