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The Photo Book – Self-Publishing with On-Demand Printing

Posted in Lecture Materials, PHOT 162 by Paul Turounet on November 9, 2007


© Paul Turounet, Cancer Alley – Louisiana and New York, published with Apple iPhoto (left) and Blurb (right)

To view the book, click on Cancer Alley – Louisiana and New York iPhoto Book.pdf


Unfortunately, one of the greatest challenges for the photographer was and continues to be how to get a photo book published. Until recently. With the continued development and improvements with on-demand printing, self-publishing a photo book is becoming much more accessible and cost-efficient for a photographer to easily publish their work as a book.


Since 2003, Stephen Shore has embraced the use of on-demand technology to produce over 50 Apple iPhoto books. Shore utilizes various structural frameworks to explore the visual relationships and conceptual possibilities with photographs as they exist within the structure of a book.

I was interested in using them to produce small, defined, sequential works. Here’s what I mean by this: Looking at a large photographic book with, say, a hundred pictures is like going on a visual journey. Looking at it, one might be aware of the sequence, how one image leads to the next. However, a book with only ten images can be understood not only in terms of the sequence, but can be grasped as a whole, all at once, as a single complex work.

from the introduction, A Book in One Day, by Stephen Shore from the book, Stephen Shore – Witness Number One, which includes images from an iPhoto book (10-29-05) and an interview about his book publishing with on-demand technology.

To view one of his iPhoto books (courtesy of American Photo), click on Stephen Shore – Flohmarkt iPhoto Book.pdf


While Stephen Shore has published his books as single editions, Ed Grazda, a prominent photographer who has had books (Afghanistan 1980 – 1989 and Afghanistan Diary) made with major book publishers, recently published his own Apple iPhoto book, American Color Slides. The book is published as an edition of 50 signed and numbered copies, as well as a limited edition of 10 copies that include an original 8″ x 10″ print.




With the increasing popularity of on-demand printing and the possibilities of self-publishing expanding, there are a number of on-demand printing services available to photographers now, including Apple iPhoto, Blurb, MyPublisher and SharedInk. Each of these services offers a variety of books, including soft cover and hardbound, in various sizes, and utilize fairly intuitive layout software to easily create a book.


Apple iPhoto


Apple’s iPhoto books can be produced utilizing either the iPhoto or Aperture photo-imaging software programs. Utilizing the libraries within each program, the images are easily dropped into a page-layout design of your choice. While the iPhoto program offers only a handful of page layout options, depending on the number of images per page, the Aperture program allows for a tremendous amount of layout customization. With the introduction of iPhoto 08, customized dust jackets and foil-printing on the cover are available.




With Blurb, images from any of the photo-imaging software programs, such as Adobe Photoshop, can be uploaded into a library to begin creating the book. Blurb offers a variety of softbound and hardbound books, including a vast selection of layout templates as well as design / text options. Books can be printed as photo and portfolio books, and there is also the ability to upload all of the content from a blog. With hardbound books, a dust jacket with inside flaps is included. Books published with Blurb are also available for purchase by anyone from their bookstore. Blurb has recently added a social-networking feature that makes it possible for groups of photographers to work together on a book




The MyPublisher program is similiar to the others though there are limited page layout options. Like the other on-demand printing services, MyPublisher books are available as both hardbound and softbound, and they also offer the largest hardbound book option. Hardbound books are available in either linen or leather, with or without a cut-out window, and a variety of dust jacket designs are available at an additional cost.




The books from SharedInk are similar to those produced with Apple’s iPhoto. In fact, PDF files of books created from Apple’s iPhoto and Aperture programs can be uploaded and printed by SharedInk. Their basic books are printed in two sizes and are hardbound only. One of the interesting options available is the SharedInk Photographer Program which allows for larger-sized books, customized page layout and design options, page proofs and a great selection of linen colors for the hardbound cover.



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