Books have a beginning, a middle and an end — like a movie or an installation at a gallery. It’s less about length and more about telling the story.
So Eileen Gittins, CEO of Blurb, told us in an interview for a previous post about the company that lets photographers create and market their own photobooks. We were wondering though what it takes to create a top-selling book on Blurb… so we asked a couple of photographers who had done it.
This is what they told us.
“[S]ince it was a manageable number of photos and a well-defined “project,” I thought: Let’s give it a go,” she said.
The sales price of a Blurb book depends on its size, so Gabriele chose to place her 50 images on 36 pages, which meant the book costs $22.95 to order. She also selected the 7×7 format as suitable for the number of pages, and because she liked its square shape.
What she might have liked less though is that because Gabriele is not an America taxpayer, she’s unable to sell the book for a profit — at least not from Blurb’s own website:
“Blurb set the price,” Gabriele explains. “You can only define a price that includes a margin when you have a US tax number. I don’t, since I am German and live in Germany. I don’t make any money with the book.”
To turn her book into a revenue-generator then, Gabriele would have to order a number of volumes, set her mark-up and market them herself. That’s certainly not impossible but it would involve a certain amount of risk. At the moment, she has little incentive to promote her book and her marketing has been restricted to mentioning it on her Flickr stream.
That alone though has been enough to land Gabriele a place on Blurb’s list of top-selling photography books — a lesson for US-based photographers: choose the right project and select the right images, and even minimal marketing through an established Flickr network can generate sales… and profits.
“I think had I let the images dictate the size of the book I would have gone with a portrait orientation, but instead I went with a landscape,” he said. “I might have been wrong, but I felt I wanted the book to stand out as a coffee table book.”
The price also was a factor, Matt adds. The book costs $39.95 but to encourage sales, Matt chose to keep his profits small.
“I hardly marked the book up at all. With Blurb you can mark up your book as much as you’d like, but this being the first one I wanted to make sure it will sell.”
Neither Matt nor Gabriele can say that they’re planning on retiring on the proceeds of their Blurb books but both seem pleased with the experience. When we asked them what they found the best part of producing a book on Blurb, they both said the same thing: “Just holding the book in my hand!”
Of course, it would be nice to hold revenue in your hand too and with the right marketing, that’s certainly possible.
[tags] photo books, blurb [/tags]