Blurb Presentation Boxes

I’ve had a fair number of people ask about these Blurb presentation boxes. As you will see, these are fabricated by a company called Process Supplies in London. I purchased three different sizes, have used one so far as you can see by the attached images.

I’m sure there are other outlets for products like this if you are willing to do a little online searching, and I also think it well worth your time to build your own. Customizing books and their packaging is something I’m intrigued by, and also puzzled by how little I see this being done. Kudos to those are who doing it.

20 responses to “Blurb Presentation Boxes”

  1. LionelB says:

    As I write, I am brewing up a concoction of sap of goat-thorn and gall of ox. It may or may not cure warts but it is actually in preparation for my first foray into paper marbling — Ebru. It will need meticulous attention to detail — no shortcuts — and I dare say a good deal of luck.

  2. A nice idea, but I’m not sure about “bells and whistles”, where the presentation of photographic books is concerned. I enjoy a finely made book, but how far does anyone producing work which is worthwhile in its own right really want to go down the road towards that precious “scrapbooking” aesthetic?

    I’m also dubious about the way the quality photo-publishers (the Nazraelis, the Steidls) focus on creating instant collectibles with limited runs, deluxe editions, impractically oversized books, etc. What I like about Blurb is its unique combination of inherent quality, and democracy of accessibility: somehow rendering a Blurb book into a collectible goes against the grain.

    Mind you, I feel the same about “editioning” digital photo-prints — I understand why people do it, but it seems to go against “truth to the medium” where an infinitely reproducible object is concerned.

    • Smogranch says:

      Mike,

      Scrapbooking and custom cases are apples and oranges. Also, many of the best photography books being created were created with the intention of trying to break even when it comes to the sale of the book. One of the big misconceptions of illustrated books is that the artist makes money, or the publisher makes money. In many cases this isn’t the reality. One way to offset the upfront cost of publishing is to create a limited edition that can be sold to pay for the actual exhibition that typically accompanies the release of the new book. Bookbinding and packaging is an industry on it’s own. I’m at U of the Arts in Philly as I write this and they have a book arts degree here that specializes in not only making books, but making the packaging. There are many such programs in the world today. Collectibles in turn allow the publisher, or artist, to offer more in the long run by creating funding for subsequent options. This is one of the reasons people do it.
      Collectors want rare things. Editions provide this. Not to say you can’t do a trade edition, or open edition, same goes for your imagery. The art world loves hyper small editions, but I feel like you in some ways when it comes to things like documentary photographers editioning images that were originally made under the premise of “doing good.”

      However, taking a reproducible medium, photography, and a reproducible form of publishing, Blurb, and turning them on their head is also a worthwhile experiment. Depends on why.

  3. I take your point about publishers leveraging collectibility to cover costs, though if I buy one more book that turns out to be so big I need a ladder to view it properly I will scream. Or perhaps book collectors have very long arms?
    “Book arts” people (of whom, in a way, I am one) need frequent reality checks, imho… There are far too many artist’s books that “question” the form of the book without ever really addressing the issue of content. The beauty of the codex, as a format, is the way it will serve any content, from a car-servicing manual to The Americans, without drawing attention to itself. Once someone foregrounds the container in a big way, however, the contents had better live up to it, or be a comic let-down (like cornflakes sold in a jewel-encrusted gold box). Most artist’s books are like that, for me.
    Do you know the work of Raymond Meeks? Now there is someone who explores the book form and combines it with superlative photography.

    Mike

    • Smogranch says:

      Mike,
      I hear ya, but you are now talking about taste and that is a slippery slope. What you might detest in terms of content might float the next guy’s boat. I see plenty of work and books being hyped that I look at and think, “really?” I just chalk it up to taste and move on. Books like prints have been experiencing the “I now have the ability to make HUGE things so I’m going to do so regardless of whether or not the work deserves it” syndrome. But the mindset is big thing = big money, and in many cases that is precisely what happens. Strange but true.

    • LionelB says:

      Victory of form over content is certainly a very real danger but set against that, cross-fertilisation with other creative disciplines has the potential to spark something interesting. Turning the thing on its head, if the idea for the ‘packaging’ comes first, then the content had better be something exceptional and fitting. I am finding that an interesting spur to a new photographic project.

    • I should probably clarify that by “artist’s books” I mean Artist’s Books rather than “books produced by photographic artists”. The “artist’s book” is a hard category to define, but once you step into a Book Arts department, you’ll know it when you see it. Tiny concertina books, pages with cut-outs and pop-ups, that sort of thing.

      When it comes to photographic content, I’m always deliberately agnostic for a couple of years, just in case I’m seeing a “Hendrix Moment” i.e. something so new I can’t see it for what it is, yet. For younger readers, once upon a time Jimi Hendrix was so new it made your head spin. Ditto, say, Robert Frank or Paul Graham in photographic history.

      Mike

    • Smogranch says:

      Mike,
      True, very true. I don’t see much new today but I like the idea of searching for it. More on this shortly.

    • Smogranch says:

      Lionel,
      I think it’s all about playing. Testing. Taking chances and being okay with failing. MOre on this shortly….

  4. On your real point, though, do you think Blurb themselves are ever likely to offer more custom options e.g. title blocking or printing on cloth boards (much as I love Blurb, I could really do without the dustjackets, and usually either go for softcover or imagewrap)? Slipcases, even? It would be expensive, obviously, but worth it for one-off projects.

    Mike

    • Smogranch says:

      Mike,
      Yes, it would be awesome but very tricky on the backend and also very expensive. There would have to be set sizes, styles, etc, and which opens the Pandora’s box of “I did a sixty page book and want a slip cover and the site says I can only do an 80-page.” But,…..you never know. We can dream.

    • I do agree with Mike: I’m also waiting for custom options at Blurb as for 9 out of 10 books I want to make, their current options don’t fit my vision for that particular book. I do hope other formats and options will be available someday.

    • Smogranch says:

      Serge,
      My advice is you can’t play that game. If you are waiting for new options you won’t get where you want to be. This is the experience I’ve seen. Take what is out there, Blurb or someone else, and make something. There will always be more papers, more options but ultimately you can make something now. We have the greatest range of options in the history of this field. Don’t wait.

  5. LionelB says:

    My investigation of paper marbling has been instructive. In Turkey, prompted by easy pickings from tourists, practitioners started painting flowers. Marbling became a backdrop. Nowadays, they style themselves ‘artists’ and do the museum circuit, their ‘works’ being destined for picture frames. But although their performance makes a captivating spectacle the end product is homely kitsch. The true masters are the artisans who still provide conservation materials for hand-bound books. But they are now as likely to be found in Oregon as in Istanbul. Lessons there for photographers.

    • Smogranch says:

      Lionel,
      Was in Truth or Consequences a few months ago, small town in Southern New Mexico. Low and behold…a book binder resides there..a good one. Go figure. However, a trip to Turkey is in order.

    • LionelB says:

      No excuse needed for visiting Istanbul …

      Ever curious, I learn that Truth or Consequences changed its name to get on the radio. In 1950. Fact is always stranger than fiction.

  6. Daniel, I’m not going to wait until Blurb offers more options, I did create something last weekend using another supplier who offers me the small horizontal format (8 x 5.5) I was looking for.

    • Smogranch says:

      Serge,
      That’s it, find what you like and go for it. My first magazine was with another vendor. It worked great. Now we have a magazine I can keep it in house. Adding options is a huge deal when you consider last year we shipped 1.2 million unique titles to 75 countries. That new product must fit a global operation.

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