Blurb Photo Book Review — How They’ve Improved Since Our Last Review

Here at PhotoWorkout, we’ve covered a number of photo book printers. And a Blurb photo book may be the most recognized to date.

Since its inception, the powerhouse has produced over 20 million books for hundreds of thousands of customers.

But is the biggest name on the block always the best option? With the passing of time, has Blurb maintained the high-quality standards that so many customers fell in love with?

In today’s Blurb photo book review, we’ll unveil what you can expect when working with the popular printer.

Blurb Photo Book Review
Blurb photobook features.jpg?w=325&h=167&scale

Product Name: Blurb Photo Book

Product Description: Blurb is a photo book printing service that allows you to create stunning photo gifts.

Brand: Blurb

Offer price: 14.99

Currency: USD

Availability: InStock

  • Image Quality
  • Price
  • Software
  • Product Options

Blurb Photo Book Review Summary

Blurb has been one of the giants of self-published photo books for years. However, with stiffer competition emerging, the company’s quality seems to be falling behind. Clunky software and hiccups concerning image rendering raise a red flag, but Blurb’s reputation does leave customers with a sense of accountability in the event that something goes wrong with their order.

About Blurb

Since it was first launched in 2005, Blurb has been an affordable means for self-publishing. Catering to more than 70 countries, photographers from around the world rely on this service for all of their bookbinding needs.

Over the years, the company has grown exponentially, experiencing changes all along the way. So, even if you’ve purchased a Blurb photo book in the past, chances are things aren’t the same as the last time you logged on.

blurb photo books
Since its inception nearly 15 years ago, Blurb has gone through some serious changes.

Five years ago, Blurb Inc. acquired MagCloud, gaining new clientele and equipment for magazine production. Around the same time, Blurb launched a proprietary design program called BookWright. Just last year, the company hired a new CEO.

On paper, these changes bode well for the quality Blurb has to offer. So, what exactly can one expect when placing an order?

blurb photo book review

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Blurb Photo Books Boast An Array of Styling Options

Most people know Blurb for its bookbinding services. In recent years, they’ve actually expanded their print products to include trade books and magazines.

However, they still devote the majority of their efforts to making books. Everything from bound portfolios to wedding albums.

In short, the Blurb photo book offers just enough to keep things interesting, yet avoids being overwhelming. It’s just enough to ensure you can execute whatever your vision happens to be for your photo creation.

Books come in six different sizes:

  • Mini Square (5×5 in., 13×13 cm)
  • Small Square (7×7 in., 18×18 cm)
  • Standard Portrait (8×10 in., 20×25 cm)
  • Standard Landscape (10×8 in., 25×20 cm)
  • Large Square (12×12 in., 30×30 cm)
  • Large Landscape (13×11 in., 33×28 cm)

In addition, there are six types of paper to choose between, all of which are designed to pick a wide range of tones and colors:

  • Standard 80#
  • Premium Lustre 100#
  • Premium Matte 100#
  • ProLine Uncoated 100#
  • ProLine Pearl Photo 140#
  • Standard Layflat 100#

For my review, I opted for the 7×7 in. small square model with a matte, photo-wrap finish. While small print might not be for everyone, the intimate design of this particular Blurb photo book really caught my eye.

Why’s that, you ask…

In my past printing experiences, I’ve found that many companies are reluctant to produce books smaller than the standard 8×10″.

blurb photo book review
Blurb offered a small square book option which many printing companies are unwilling to do.

Working with BookWright

Once I decided on the materials my book world from, it was time to actually design the pages inside. To do so, I was required to utilize Blurb’s publishing tool, BookWright.

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Instead of working directly through the website, I found I had to actually download and install the software onto my computer.

Although I didn’t have any trouble figuring out how to accomplish this, it was a bit of a nuisance.

As I began building my Blurb photo book, I found that doing just about anything through BookWright proved to be something of a nuisance.

In actuality, it’s possible to get about any look you’d like. However, the interface is clunky and inefficient. Compared to the smooth online design wizards that similar services have to offer, BookWright lacks.

bookwright book making tool
BookWright has all of the basic editing options a person could need but lacks unique features.

A Quick Heads Up About Image Corrections…

Another concern I ran into was BookWright/Blurb’s inability to render all of my digital files. For example, I had one image that went through some serious flattening in an attempt to compensate for some over-exposed areas.

I had no option to cancel out this effect and instead was forced to omit the photograph altogether.

bookwright blurb photobook review
On the left, I have the image I originally wanted to include in my photo book. On the right, you can see the color flattening BookWright automatically applied.

As much as parts of BookWright irritated me, it does get the job done.

It keeps an archive of all your imported content that’s easy to access at any time. Furthermore, it allows you to flip, zoom, size, or transform files to fit your needs.

uploading tool
BookWright suffers from slow render times – an issue that’s practically nonexistent with online editors.

My Experience This Time Around with Blurb Photo Books

Admittedly, this wasn’t my first experience working with Blurb. However, it’s been about 5 years since I placed my last order. After doing my research and experimenting with BookWright, I was excited to see how the “new” Blurb would stack up.

One positive aspect that’s survived over the years is Blurb’s affordable prices. As you customize your book, Blurb keeps a live price estimate insight. With a seasonal discount in place, I was able to get a 40-page hardcover book for just over $30.

final product blurb photobook review
Blurb offers a solid product for an affordable price.

So, the price was right. But did the end product live up to expectations?

All in all, I feel that Blurb did an acceptable job. About half of the images I used for this particular piece were sourced from my cell phone.

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Yet, there didn’t seem to be too many major differences in tonality and resolution between shots.

That being said, the Blurb photo book could go further. Perhaps the issue stemmed from ordering their standard paper, but my book felt a little flat. The colors seemed a bit too subdued, and a bit more contrast could have spiced things up.

blurb photo book
The quality of Blurb prints is acceptable. However, the colors were a bit dull and a bit of contrast could have put these images over the edge.

A prominent Blurb logo plastered at the end of my self-publication left a bad taste in my mouth.

This emblem can be removed – for a price.

But, considering that competitors leave these details out as a courtesy, Blurb leaves something to be desired.

Blurb back page logo
You can opt out of Blurb logos plastered on your products – for a price.

Is the Blurb Photo Book Worth It?

Blurb’s been a force to be reckoned with for years. Thanks to their prominent reputation, they have the manpower and machinery to cater to thousands of customers.

They manage to offer a variety of styling options while keeping costs down.

With competitors like Mixbook, Blurb might have to up their game to stay at the forefront.

However, with emerging competition like Mixbook, Blurb could stand to step up their game. BookWright was difficult to maneuver and didn’t offer the freedom to fully customize.

What’s more, their prints are passable, but nothing phenomenal.

There’s no denying that the Blurb photo book can get you a satisfactory end product. However, whether it’s the best choice for you is another matter entirely.

About the Author
meghan boilard author

Meghan is an artist and writer based out of Boston, MA. With an interest in everything from instant film to experimental videography, her work has been featured internationally in a variety of photographic exhibitions and publications. You can connect with Meghan on Instagram.

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4 thoughts on “Blurb Photo Book Review — How They’ve Improved Since Our Last Review”

  1. I have used Blurb for 12 different photo books since 2011. They have always done a perfectly acceptable job, up until my latest book ordered in November of 2020. After two reprints (at no charge) the issue was not corrected. It was very frustrating not the get the same quality produced books I had in the past. I ordered a book with the image wrap style cover. The cover print is not fully glued down to the cover boards in the folds of the front and back covers. A bubble of air under the image makes it very vulnerable to tearing. Customer service was very good, but the production issue was never solved after three printings.
    Unfortunately I no longer trust Blurb can produce the clean product they have in the past.

  2. I have used Blurb on & off for years. I have noticed that the quality varies dependent on who Blurb subcontracts the print job. My last test order went through as image wrap the first time. All B&W images have a noticeable magenta tint. The wrap cover is not glued smoothly, and left sided pages have a different color balance than the right pages.

    I made a second order for the dust cover option. The color balance issue was gone. The magenta tint was very much subdued compared to the image wrap book. Also I noticed, in the first test, that images were a bit flat, compared to my originals. Perhaps this is a CMYK printing issue. I simply brightened all images by adjusting the gamma then reloading them, and redoing the upload.

  3. All Hardcover books came with the spine showing between the same two pages on every book. Customer Service is non-existent. I’ve sent two email with no response either time. My latest order seems to be in limbo there but a friend who ordered the book at the same time, received his a week ago. I will have to find another company to print my books.

  4. My experience same as Meghan Boilard’s. Book is flat and wondering if there was a money back guarantee. I doubt this. Colors were subdued.