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Author Topic: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?  (Read 1812 times)

Jeffrey Saldinger

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What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« on: March 25, 2019, 01:50:37 pm »

I am preparing my first Blurb book (using Lightroom CC 2015.6).  It is to be a Standard Landscape format, all black and white images, and all the images to print at 6.3x4.2 inches.  I've chosen Premium Lustre paper.

I created the book following the Book Module chapters in two popular Lightroom books, using a Lightroom collection comprising only PSDs, not JPEGs (the books did not explicitly discuss file types).

It wasn’t untiI I later read Blurb’s website information on book creation that I needed to use JPEGs, not PSDs.

Exporting the PSDs to get JPEGs and importing them to use in the collection for the book is no problem, but before I make the JPEGs, I’d like to know if there is an optimum file size for my situation.  When I export from Lightroom to make the JPEGs, would I just make them 6.3x4.2 inches at 300ppi (i.e.1860x1260 pixels)?  Would something else be preferable?

Thanks for your help.
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Jeffrey
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john beardsworth

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2019, 01:54:39 pm »

Blurb's web site is telling you how to use Blurb's software. As it sounds like you are using the Book Module, you don't need to bother exporting these JPEGs. Just add the PSDs to the book in Lightroom.

Jeffrey Saldinger

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2019, 02:38:14 pm »

Thank you, John, for this valuable clarification.
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Jeffrey
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Chris Kern

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2019, 12:57:26 pm »

As far as I know—am I missing something?—there's no way to soft-proof your images before uploading them to Blurb through the Lightroom book module because LR doesn't have support for the CMYK color space.  So how your images will appear in the printed book is somewhat of a crap shoot.

john beardsworth

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2019, 02:51:51 pm »

Correct, though also remember that Blurb supply a single profile that supposedly represents all their printers and all their paper combinations....

digitaldog

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2019, 06:41:19 pm »

As far as I know—am I missing something?—there's no way to soft-proof your images before uploading them to Blurb through the Lightroom book module because LR doesn't have support for the CMYK color space.  So how your images will appear in the printed book is somewhat of a crap shoot.
You cannot soft proof because Blurb has no actual output profiles for the print process. Just a generic and thus a single useless CMYK profile for all products.
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Andrew Rodney
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Redcrown

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #6 on: March 31, 2019, 01:16:59 am »

Just size images for Blurb at the standard 300 ppi. Bigger is OK, Blurb's downsizing is OK. But a more important consideration is "toning" images for Blurb's CMYK. Basically, it's good practice to lower the shadows a little. Sure, Blurb's quality is not as good as many other book makers. But Blurb is cheap. Certainly cheaper than Adorama's true photo prints, and cheaper than other CMYK printers. And some advice - don't print "retail" at Blurb. Get your book ready, sign up for Blurb e-mails, and sit back and wait for discounts. Don't settle for anything less than 20%. Ditto for Adorama. Often these discounts only run for a few days, so you have to be ready.

I've made over a dozen Blurb books. After the first 1 or 2 I made a test book. About 6 images, each printed with different Curves adjustments. And all 6 also printed at a Lab. I cut the book apart so I could compare images side-by-side. The result of this exercise was using a slight Curves adjustment, shown below. Of course, none of the "curved" pages from Blurb looked as good as the Lab prints. But using an adjustment made them look closer.

Andrew is correct about the limited "one-size-fits-all" soft proof profile for Blurb's HP Indigo printer. But you can still use it to get a rough idea if there are any major gamut issues. Far from perfect, but better than nothing.



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Jeffrey Saldinger

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #7 on: March 31, 2019, 02:44:57 pm »

Redcrown, thanks.

Given that my book is to be all black and white, I think of the word "toning" meaning to add an overall rather subtle hue to the image, as one does with the color wheel in Epson's Advanced Black and White.  I have a saved print preset of 2 clicks horizontal and 7 clicks vertical that I use when printing on Epson's Ultra Premium Lustre.

Any thoughts about a parallel way to tone a file for a Blurb submission?  Is an expectation of somewhat hit or miss toning effects more realistic?

Blurb emailed to say my book should arrive by Tuesday.  I'll have something more to say then or soon thereafter.
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Jeffrey
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digitaldog

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #8 on: March 31, 2019, 03:05:59 pm »

Warning, the HP Indigo (and a less than ideal calibrated and profiled Indigo) isn't ideal for B&W books. The screening has issues whereby if you were to say, output a page of middle gray, you'd see a magenta to green 'cast' in a pattern across the page. Nothing you can do about it.
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Andrew Rodney
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Jeffrey Saldinger

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #9 on: March 31, 2019, 08:06:00 pm »

Thank you, Andrew.  I will adjust my expectations accordingly.

I envision from what you said that the middle gray page would have a gradient from magenta to green.

Could this be overcome to create a pleasing, uniform effect by toning the file with a Lightroom preset (e.g. Sepia Tone) or something more customized in Lightroom or Photoshop?
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Jeffrey
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digitaldog

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #10 on: March 31, 2019, 08:09:07 pm »

Thank you, Andrew.  I will adjust my expectations accordingly.

I envision from what you said that the middle gray page would have a gradient from magenta to green.

Could this be overcome to create a pleasing, uniform effect by toning the file with a Lightroom preset (e.g. Sepia Tone) or something more customized in Lightroom or Photoshop?
Depending on where upon the page, the amount of colorization, that could help. But the shift will be there.
What's kind of fun is setting up a test spread that's 100% gray.
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Andrew Rodney
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Jeffrey Saldinger

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #11 on: March 31, 2019, 08:18:24 pm »

Depending on where upon the page, the amount of colorization, that could help. But the shift will be there.
What's kind of fun is setting up a test spread that's 100% gray.

Thanks for these extra factors to consider.  I assume you meant to print a test page that is nothing but middle gray.
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Jeffrey
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ericbowles

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #12 on: April 04, 2019, 05:50:58 pm »

I've printed a dozen different books or so with Blurb.  There are lots of variables, so when it's practical I like printing a test book with all of the prints that will be in the final version.  You can consolidate images with 2-4 images on a page to reduce page count in the test book.  You can print front and back of pages.  And you can make a paperback with a cheap cover.  I print full size but in a paperback format for my test books - it's pricey but avoids even more expensive reprints.  You won't be happy with any errors - and it's better to fix the errors than live with them.  :)

A test copy will be a good way to check text layout, spelling, image brightness, look for banding or dust spots you had not noticed, and check color output.  If you really want to be thorough, you could print a couple of test charts that you normally use for printing. 

One suggestion to help with your preliminary work - in Lightroom set your background to match the color of your book's pages - white, gray, black, etc.  It will give you an additional check on brightness/exposure.

I've found printing images just a bit brighter than a regular print can be helpful.  Prints are usually expected to be well lit, while a book tends to have lower and more varied lighting.  Just like a print, you edit for the normal expected viewing conditions.
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nemophoto

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #13 on: April 04, 2019, 09:23:23 pm »

I produced a 160-page B&W on Ireland with Blurb. I ended up doing the layout in InDesign and used all CMYK B&W images and exported a PDF. The result was generally good. However, the covers could be inconsistent (I saw a few books that had a magenta cast to them. There was also a metamerism to the cover depending upon the light. Digital presses are not ideal. (I've worked in pre-press production for photos and layouts since 1980.)

My suggestion is save your JPEGs as a quality 9 or 10 and as CMYK at 300dpi. I also highly recommend producing images "to size" for your layout if you use the Blurb software, appropriately sharpened. I have never used the Book Module in Lightroom, but the advantage there is Lightroom will size the images and sharpen them (as you specify). The downside is Lightroom is only an RGB workflow, so you take your chances on the B&W conversion. BTW, Blurb is even worse when working with grayscale images. The reason for CMYK is that is the native space for the Indigo. RGB is converted by the RIP and I haven't been impressed (for B&W). The end result reminds me of early Epson printer when trying to print B&W; they had an awful magenta cast.
« Last Edit: April 04, 2019, 09:27:54 pm by nemophoto »
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digitaldog

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #14 on: April 04, 2019, 09:36:02 pm »

One issue is covers are printed on a different kind of digital press; getting it to match the inside is tough.
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Andrew Rodney
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Jeffrey Saldinger

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #15 on: April 05, 2019, 08:41:50 pm »

I produced a 160-page B&W on Ireland with Blurb. I ended up doing the layout in InDesign and used all CMYK B&W images and exported a PDF. The result was generally good. However, the covers could be inconsistent (I saw a few books that had a magenta cast to them. There was also a metamerism to the cover depending upon the light. Digital presses are not ideal. (I've worked in pre-press production for photos and layouts since 1980.)

My suggestion is save your JPEGs as a quality 9 or 10 and as CMYK at 300dpi. I also highly recommend producing images "to size" for your layout if you use the Blurb software, appropriately sharpened. I have never used the Book Module in Lightroom, but the advantage there is Lightroom will size the images and sharpen them (as you specify). The downside is Lightroom is only an RGB workflow, so you take your chances on the B&W conversion. BTW, Blurb is even worse when working with grayscale images. The reason for CMYK is that is the native space for the Indigo. RGB is converted by the RIP and I haven't been impressed (for B&W). The end result reminds me of early Epson printer when trying to print B&W; they had an awful magenta cast.


Thank you, Nemo.  My JPEGs were indeed RGB and had the green to magenta cast Andrew prepared me for (#8 above; thank you, Andrew).

And further for Andrew (#10 above): I had put in a flat gray page, rather deeper than the endpapers’ 50% gray, and it did show a subtle green/magenta streakiness.

I don't recall seeing in Blurb's advice pages anything about RGB vs. CYMK for the submitted files, but I will email them with my concerns about the color cast and see what they say.
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Jeffrey
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amolitor

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #16 on: April 05, 2019, 10:49:54 pm »

If print quality matters at all, you have to pull a test book. Wait for the discounts and press print.

Spend some time with the book, a couple days at least, and adjust your pictures appropriately. Each of the papers will produce quite different results.

I find in general that the uncoated higher end papers tend to produce weaker blacks, so I pull the blacks down a hair and push some contrast into the shadows, and that works for me. The glossy magazine paper, the cheaper paper, produces relatively sturdier blacks, to my eye. The cheap paper in the trade books is slightly translucent, so if you have a large dark print on one side of the page, and text or a small or a light print on the other side,  you're gonna see a faint dark rectangle. And so on and so forth. Your mileage, however, will differ.

Pull a test book and look at it.

I like blurb and do a lot of stuff on it, but it's not High End Printing.
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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2019, 06:50:03 am »

Does it matter if images are sRGB or Adobe RGB?
I would think maybe its better to send sRGB images?
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john beardsworth

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2019, 01:09:44 pm »

If, as the OP says, he is creating the book using LR's Book module, Adobe RGB or sRGB or CMYK are irrelevant. He doesn't send any images directly. LR applies sRGB when it uploads the book.

If print quality matters at all, you have to pull a test book. Wait for the discounts and press print.

Yes, and these discounts can be up to 50%. It's easy enough to create a smaller version of your book by duplicating it in LR (a right click menu command) and changing the size.

nemophoto

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Re: What is the optimum JPEG for a Blurb book?
« Reply #19 on: April 08, 2019, 09:09:47 pm »

Does it matter if images are sRGB or Adobe RGB?
I would think maybe its better to send sRGB images?

Theoretically, sRGB is closer to CMYK, which in itself, is a much smaller color gamut. While most modern inkjet printers are designed to handle RGB images and have 8-12 inks to cover the larger gamuts, digital presses are hampered by the nature of a smaller gamut. That said, that is why, from my experience, I converted everything to CMYK and even then (for B&W) wasn't entirely happy.
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