I was thinking maybe it's going to be a good idea to finish Photobook Tutorial this week. As you already know I raised nearly $4k and now it was time to actually fulfill my orders.
I went with 2 printing companies for my book: Printique and Blurb. I didn't have any prior experience with Printique, but I picked it because it had the best lay-flat option for my coffee-table edition. This option felt truly luxurious with thick pages, linen cover and protective box. It costed a lot too. Basically, it costed so much that only people who are accustom to luxury brands could afford it, which is good and bad. Good because that's the people who also buy my prints and commission portraits, bad because only 4 books of this kind were sold in the campaign. Beside the price, working with Printique was great - I had one person in customer service who took on my project and worked with me for the duration. He really helped a lot giving me advice and making small fixes that I overlooked and was very responsive.
Blurb on the other hand costed maybe 60% for much smaller, more modest book and easily gave 30% discount for quantity on top of that. The quality of the book when they sent it was very good - linen cover, glossy dust-jacket (whatever you do, don't order hard cover with print - it scratches extra easily and it's very obvious when it is damaged even a bit). There were details that I couldn't customize (for example my book is all black, but the inside of the dust jacket is white which messes a bit the overall aesthetics), but for the price it was a very good deal. One big minus was: they constantly send you defective books and take ages to reply for customer support. I had my timeline set with Kickstarter and I ordered the first prototype in July. It came in with some (my) mistakes so I ordered another one. That one was damaged, and I had to wait 3 weeks for them to reprint. Then I ordered the last one with - final prototype with corrections - again damaged copy came first, again 3 weeks of wait. After that they send me the last prototype, it was perfect, so with the light heart I ordered a big batch of books from the same file. They came in defective. And then their customer support ignored me for a month. So because of this and because of the long back and forward I missed my deadline with the whole campaign as well as an opportunity to sell my books during holiday show in my gallery. Then they send me new batch without problems (except 1,5 month wait).
So my advice regarding Blurb: definitely yes for your portfolio books (quality and price are good), maybe for your client's books, if there is no deadline. Probably not for the big campaigns on deadline. Definite "No" to selling your book through their website because they have no quality control and your buyers will constantly see defective books from you.
In general my summary for printing is: when I will do the next batch I will try to find local printers (if the covid is over) and get custom price from them. For the next book, I will try to find a way to invest into printing a big batch through one of the publishers, which will give me a price that would be attractive to broader public (this campaign was done thanks to my core audience).
Finally regarding shipping. Shipping was great, easy and inexpensive inside the US. Way more pricy for outside the country. It was even pricier then this calculator told me. But I had a lot of donations through Kickstarter that were without reward or for a postcard so I had the possibility to spend them for this ungraded shipping. So far I don't know of any lost packages, but I will update this post f there's something worth reporting.
I think that's all. It was great to make a book, but equally exhaustive. I would for sure highly recommend it to other photographers :)