I took the time to revise my book yet again and am now able to offer it on Amazon.com. It’s using the self publishing service called “Create Space” instead of “Blurb.” Create Space is owned by Amazon, so it just made sense to try them out and I’m glad to say that I’m happy with the result. I was able to offer a substantially larger book (from 110 to 160 pages) for around the same price yet have the same or better quality.
Print quality wise the two companies seem pretty similar. I think Blurb might use slightly thicker paper, but I like the inking quality as well as the cover and cutting exactness a bit more with Create Space.
The biggest difference comes in the way of tools, features, and business related offerings. Blurb can handle straight PDF submissions and they offer Adobe InDesign templates, but to get started I used their Booksmart application (I don’t own InDesign).
As you might know by now, I use Linux, so I was forced to use it through WINE (Windows emulation). It worked alright with a few formatting quirks, but it was frustrating at times and also forced me into a proprietary format that made it difficult to push changes to other formats like Kindle and B&N Nook Book (I need to update those two soon…).
Create Space offers up basic template documents in doc format, which worked perfectly with LibreOffice. If you are not familiar with LibreOffice, it’s an open source Microsoft Office clone that works pretty well and has PDF conversion. All I can say was using a simple doc file and exporting to PDF in a few clicks was the perfect solution for me personally. The interior of the book in print looks great, so I know my process worked just fine.
Dealing with the cover is somewhat of a draw between to two. Booksmart is pretty easy as I can add a photo and the software formats it without much worry about if it will work. The drawback is that I had to let their software handle the text instead of putting it into my image file. That meant a less impressive looking cover that I could have made otherwise. Create Space isn’t all peaches and cream either. They offer up template images, but they are confusing and don’t actually match up with their web site’s cover creator margin requests. I eventually figured out how to use the image template as a ratio to my sizing and margins in Photoshop.
As I mentioned before, Create Space is part of Amazon so that has the added benefit of getting a print version listed on one of the largest online stores in existence. Besides that, the resulting book doesn’t have any forced labeling except a simple page at the back of the book just says: “Made in the USA” with the state, city, and date as well. That in my mind is really professional. Blurb on the other hand forces their books to have their logo and site address on two pages of the book unless you pay and extra fee for every book sold to have those logos removed.
A final big plus goes to Create Space in the form of ISBN and getting that on the back cover. They handle the full process. They give you and option of including your own ISBN for $10, using a free Create Space ISBN, or ordering a “universal” one for $99. Integration into the back cover happens automatically without any work on your part. With blurb I had to find a place to get a (cheap) ISBN and then find another service to generate a bar-code then I had to place that in my cover art.