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Author Topic: Blurb Paper  (Read 10020 times)

Mark D Segal

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Blurb Paper
« on: September 03, 2016, 11:01:56 am »

I'm toying with the idea of making a Blurb photo-book as they have a 40% sale going for work submitted before Sept. 6th. I've been considering their "Pro-line Pearl" paper but haven't succeeded in getting any useful information from them about the specs on this paper. I'm interested in knowing whether it is closest to Matte, Glossy or Luster, what it's gamut volume is in their presses, what RGB ICC profile would be a reliable match for softproofing the photos with, and what the maximum Black is in L*. Anyone out there who can advise on these specs or has made a book using this paper and can provide their visual impressions about how a photo printed on it would compare with an inkjet print made on a good luster paper?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #1 on: September 03, 2016, 12:07:58 pm »

Correction: On the profiling I see with the latest version of LR I can use a Blurb press profile for soft-proofing (no longer necessary to select the closest-matching RGB). Raises a question about whether this one profile works for all their paper choices - on the face of it, one would think not, but their Color Management material on their website says nothing about this.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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digitaldog

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #2 on: September 03, 2016, 12:51:14 pm »

The Blurb ICC profile is definitely GRACoL2006 Coated1, right down to the paper white L*a*b*. What they're using is essentially a copy of the IDEAlliance GRACoL profile and has little to do with how they're actually printing.


All CMYK functionally has been removed from LR because it was broken. But in respect to soft proofing CMYK for Blurb, doesn't matter. They want you to believe all their papers, and the differing printer technology they use for the cover and inside the books are identical and you can use one ICC Profile for that. We both know that's absurd!


Got Aperture? MUCH better printing quality. I printed two books at two different times with identical images to both Apple and Blurb. Blurb wasn't close to the color quality of the Apple print providers.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #3 on: September 03, 2016, 01:34:30 pm »

Thanks Andrew, that's very helpful.

After downloading the Blurb profile and installing it in my Library>Colorsync>Profiles folder, it did NOT turn up in LR. Now I know why. So be it - another glitch, less fatal than July's! Anyhow, I did examine it in ColorThink Pro only to learn that the gamut volume is some 398K, versus for example 556K for Epson Legacy Fibre (a MATTE paper) in my Epson 4900. The maximum Black is 8, which is not bad compared with matte papers, but the gamut volume could be a real constraint on rich colour - and the stuff I want to print is VERY vibrant. Now, that gamut volume number could be meaningless as the profile ignores the specific paper and press that would be used for printing such a book were I to order it.

As Aperture is discontinued one cannot download the most recent version from the Apple website or App store, and I don't know whether it would even be compatible with El Capitan. However, I see one can use their new "Photos" app as a vehicle for making books. That would mean processing the photos in LR, importing them to Photos and dealing with the process from there. Do you know if the book printing services offered through Photos are the same as those they offered through Aperture?
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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digitaldog

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #4 on: September 03, 2016, 01:40:34 pm »

As Aperture is discontinued one cannot download the most recent version from the Apple website or App store, and I don't know whether it would even be compatible with El Capitan.
Runs fine for me. But I only use it to produce books. Haven't done one in months so I suspect it still talks to the servers and updates the data, may have to check that.
EDIT: no, Unfortunately Aperture will not upload the books, bummer. But Photo's will and the same providers are used. Looks like I have to run another test of the same images against Blurb.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2016, 01:48:29 pm by digitaldog »
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #5 on: September 03, 2016, 07:27:59 pm »

Runs fine for me. But I only use it to produce books. Haven't done one in months so I suspect it still talks to the servers and updates the data, may have to check that.
EDIT: no, Unfortunately Aperture will not upload the books, bummer. But Photo's will and the same providers are used. Looks like I have to run another test of the same images against Blurb.

Normally I don't play with toy software and now I know why. So far as I can tell, Photos is an unmitigated piece of crap. The amount of information provided for using it to make books is pitiful. It isn't even possible to format the pictures so that the whole photo fits the frame - this is allowed for some theme layouts but not others and they don't say which theme layouts allow it and which don't, so you need to go one by one trial and error if you want the whole picture to fit within the frame format you select for the pages. And for colour management? Fuggetaboutit. What paper finishes do they use - so that one can begin to fathom gamut? What ICC profile should one use in an adult photo editing application (before sending the photos to Photos )to most closely simulate the results? Nada.

If you have a more insightful session using this piece of garbage than I had please let us know. Until then, this is for the sandbox.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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digitaldog

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #6 on: September 03, 2016, 08:09:42 pm »

Normally I don't play with toy software and now I know why. So far as I can tell, Photos is an unmitigated piece of crap.
Render the images from whatever product you wish. Build a book, send for printing. That's it. I didn't use Aperture for anything but printing books. Everything gets uploaded in Adobe RGB (1998) for print, you don't have to worry about ICC profiles.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #7 on: September 03, 2016, 08:57:08 pm »

Render the images from whatever product you wish. Build a book, send for printing. That's it. I didn't use Aperture for anything but printing books. Everything gets uploaded in Adobe RGB (1998) for print, you don't have to worry about ICC profiles.

Well, at least they are using aRGB(98). I believe Blurb is on sRGB-equivalent (or much less, examining their output profile). But the working space is not an output profile. Why would you not want to softproof to an output profile that roughly simulates their press/paper (what press? what paper?) It's just an uncontrolled crap-shoot.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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digitaldog

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #8 on: September 03, 2016, 09:41:57 pm »

But the working space is not an output profile. Why would you not want to softproof to an output profile that roughly simulates their press/paper (what press? what paper?) It's just an uncontrolled crap-shoot.
You can't soft proof for either provider! One doesn't provide a profile, the other gives you a profile has nothing to do with the print process. Pick any CMYK profile for soft proofing for Apple, you're in the same shape as with Blurb.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2016, 09:49:59 pm by digitaldog »
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #9 on: September 03, 2016, 11:27:01 pm »

You can't soft proof for either provider!

Strictly speaking that's sadly correct. HOWEVER, if they would provide more information about the characteristics of their papers, and knowing what one knows about the comparative limitations of press gamut, it should be possible to select an RGB output profile (since LR/PS can't use CMYK profiles) that would tamp-down the softproof enough so that one could make approximate adjustments suited to press. This would at least provide a modicum of control over what comes out the other end, but both providers are remiss in even helping with that kind of workaround, probably because they haven't researched it and don't care to.

There are at least two other providers here in Toronto - Pikto (high end) and Blacks (more basic consumer-oriented) which I could check-out in person and see what they would offer to share. These books are not cheap so one wants to minimize the risk of total disappointment.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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deanwork

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #10 on: September 04, 2016, 01:34:30 pm »

That's so interesting what Andrew just said about using Apple and Aperture over Blurb.

Seems to me the reason these companies aren't providing usable profiles for soft proofing is because they are using SO many totally different printer sources and the drift is huge. It's aways a crap shoot. From my experience with Blurb you had better have all your books done in one run because if you go back two weeks later and order more they could be totally different, from the same exact files.

Now the black and white rendering, forgetaboutit. Neutral monochrome is green under daylight and red under tungsten. And the sepia toning is horrible as well

When is someone going to start a niche business for very high quality monochrome limited edition online books? Hp has had the technology for a long time, and the inks, but no one I have heard of is specializing in yet by taking the color cymk set out and putting the gray in. This was the question we were asking 5 years ago.

It's just impossible for me to believe that there is no market for that. Why must we be stuck with duotones and tritones done in China or wherever from offset presses in 2016 ?
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #11 on: September 04, 2016, 04:11:23 pm »

I've had pretty neutral grayscale results from Pikto here in Toronto; they can produce very good quality work, and helps if the customer insists on the best, but they are not inexpensive!
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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digitaldog

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #12 on: September 04, 2016, 04:18:53 pm »

I've had pretty neutral grayscale results from Pikto here in Toronto; they can produce very good quality work, and helps if the customer insists on the best, but they are not inexpensive!
Try printing a full page of a solid (Lstar 50) gray on an Indigo assuming that's what this company is using. Not pretty. And nothing anyone but HP can improve.
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2016, 04:29:26 pm »

Try printing a full page of a solid (Lstar 50) gray on an Indigo assuming that's what this company is using. Not pretty. And nothing anyone but HP can improve.

Not sure what they are using but I intend to have a conversation with them next week.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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digitaldog

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #14 on: September 04, 2016, 04:36:01 pm »

Not sure what they are using but I intend to have a conversation with them next week.
Hopefully an HP Indigo. That's the best digital press out there. Could be Xeikon or NexPress and they are probably using those for covers. But of course ask.
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #15 on: September 04, 2016, 07:53:25 pm »

I'm toying with the idea of making a Blurb photo-book as they have a 40% sale going for work submitted before Sept. 6th. I've been considering their "Pro-line Pearl" paper but haven't succeeded in getting any useful information from them about the specs on this paper. I'm interested in knowing whether it is closest to Matte, Glossy or Luster, what it's gamut volume is in their presses, what RGB ICC profile would be a reliable match for softproofing the photos with, and what the maximum Black is in L*. Anyone out there who can advise on these specs or has made a book using this paper and can provide their visual impressions about how a photo printed on it would compare with an inkjet print made on a good luster paper?
Mark,

I've been away for a week or I would have jumped into this thread sooner.

For the book I'm currently working on (thanks to a LuLa Grant), I am probably going to go with Blurb, as I have seen some good quality books from them and their price point (when there is a discount) is reasonable. I have also seen a photo book from BookBaby, which would be less expensive than Blurb, but there best paper is fully glossy, which I don't care for.

I ordered a sample swatch kit a while ago from blurb, and the "Pro Line Pearl" is the one I am using. It is a gentle luster surface, similar to the surface of good 20th century photo books (I have several from Paul Caponigro, Edwartd Weston [Aperture], and others), and is not much different from the paper LensWork uses.

My book is monochromes only, with no tinting or Sepia effects, and the cover has black type and one image on a mid-gray background.

I ordered a sample book a couple of months ago, and another one very recently, and the results confirm some of the complaints mentioned in this thread. The covers at least were probably printed by differernt outfits, as the gray on the second is slightly lighter than the gray on the first. The first was quite neutral, both to my eyes and to my wife's. But the second cover has a purplish tinge that my wife doesn't like (my color-blind eyes can't distinguish the color, only the luminance difference.)

The cover is a glossier stock than the internal pages, but it seems acceptable (to me) for a cover. I do prefer the Pro Line Pearl which is used for all interior pages.

I don't expect any book reproductions to be equal to custom inkjet prints, but the interior pages come respectably close, and I can't see any difference between the first and second versions. Since only the covers look different, that is why I suspect they were printed by different operations.

Once this book is finished I expect to start work on a book of color photos, which will be a bigger challenge.

I hope this helps a little.

-Eric
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #16 on: September 04, 2016, 09:15:29 pm »

Yes indeed, very helpful Eric, thanks. I'll be interested to hear what you think of their colour product once you've made one. I think I'm going to skip the temptation of their sale and explore a rage of options before plunking a bunch of money at any of them. At some point however, some expensive "tasting" will be necessary I think.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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schertz

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #17 on: September 04, 2016, 09:37:08 pm »

Yes indeed, very helpful Eric, thanks. I'll be interested to hear what you think of their colour product once you've made one. I think I'm going to skip the temptation of their sale and explore a rage of options before plunking a bunch of money at any of them. At some point however, some expensive "tasting" will be necessary I think.

I don't think there is any need to rush one of these sales, they have had a dozen so far this year, ranging from 20% off around Valentine's Day to 45% off in mid-June. I'm sure they'll be having another sale in a few weeks...
I have had a couple of books made through Blurb, but I used the premium Luster paper. The main problem with the books for me is not the colours, which were fine, but rather the print quality/resolution. It's more like a magazine and nowhere near the quality of a nice inkjet print. Depending on how good your vision is, you can see all the little spots and circular patterns to easily and there is not much fine detail. I took an iPhone snap of a book page to show the print patterns.
I just use the service to make some family albums of vacations and such, family members aren't too picky and were happy with the output quality. I was a bit disappointed personally though, I guess I have higher expectations/standard... I don't think I would be happy printing a portfolio on it...YMMV

MS
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Mark D Segal

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #18 on: September 04, 2016, 09:40:51 pm »

You're right - the screening is much too course and obvious.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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digitaldog

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Re: Blurb Paper
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2016, 10:17:03 pm »

The main problem with the books for me is not the colours, which were fine, but rather the print quality/resolution. It's more like a magazine and nowhere near the quality of a nice inkjet print.
It's a halftone and depending on the shop, a certain machine may have a higher or lower linescreen quality even from the same make (Indigo as an example). It can't compare to the modern ink jet in color gamut either, or neutrality across the page.
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