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April 3, 2007 – Online photo book publisher Blurb.com last week released a beta update, BookSmart 1.7.7, for public use. The free software update promises faster photo uploading. Blurb users can make personalized portfolio books, cookbooks, or blog books with custom pictures and text. The Blurb books can be made for individual use or can be sold for profit through Blurb’s online bookstore.
"Holding a finished book with your name on the cover is a truly amazing feeling; it’s one of those experiences everyone should have," states the company website.
Named one of the 50 Coolest Websites by Time Magazine last year, Blurb allows users to transform their blogs or digital photos into coffee table books, according to the website. Using the provided templates, users can create portfolios, poetry books, baby books and even cat- or dog-dedicated books.
Current photo sharing websites, such as Shutterfly, Snapfish, and Kodak EasyShare, offer similar services to create customized photos books. Blurb, however, offers users the chance to sell their books through the Blurb bookstore while setting the price of each item.
Blurb is integrated with Yahoo’s Flickr, Mac’s iPhoto, or Google’s Picasa, allowing members to easily import their photos. It offers full color books with either hard or soft covers and includes book jackets. The books are "bookstore quality," according to the website, with semi-matte paper, 4-color printing, and professional binding.
Launched to coincide with this year's Wedding & Portrait Photographers International Show, the latest beta update 1.7.7 allows users to upload images and text two to three times faster than in previous versions, according to a March 27 press release. The update comes with a few new tools including a Custom Logo Upgrade for professionals to brand their books. With the update, users will also gain a Blurb Badge, a widget that can be embedded into a user's personal blog or website to advertise their books.
"This BookSmart upgrade is really all about the professional photography market," said Blurb founder and CEO Eileen Gittins in the release. "In less than two months we built a new workflow and software upgrade to arm creative professionals with the ability to better design, brand, and market their books. Not to mention, they’ll save production time because uploading books is now twice as fast, or more," she said.
Prices start at $12.95 for a soft cover 7 x 7 inch, 40-page book.
A product tour of Blurb is available at http://www.blurb.com/home/video.