A while back, Moira Gunn interviewed Eileen Gittins, founder, president and CEO of Blurb, about publishing a first-quality, professional-looking books for Tech Nation on IT Conversations and that got me thinking.
For Christmas I made for my wife and two oldest children a photo-book of our vacation to Europe last summer. It was a universal hit. As the Apple ad says, it was pretty easy to do in iPhoto. Make no mistake however, selecting, editing, and arranging 200 some odd pictures takes some time.
iPhoto has a "Buy Book" button at the bottom of the page, but while Apple was more than happy to verify my credit card, they wouldn't do the upload. I found that MyPublisher had an iPhoto plug-in (as well as a stand-alone app for Windows) that would let me publish my book with them. Since they guaranteed delivery by Christmas and got a good review from the Wall Street Journal, I went with them.
The experience wasn't totally satisfying. First the good news is that the books are well done and got here on time. But I was off-put by a process that used two modalities: iPhoto for creating and uploading the book and a browser for paying. They were connected enough that I felt like what I'd paid for was what I'd ordered. There was no preview button or even a way to see the cover to convince me that it was my order. I also had to play some games with the URL to get past their authentication page. With some faith though, it all worked.
As I said, the books were well done and my family was very happy to have a hard-bound, printed remembrance of a great vacation. I'm sure it's something they'll keep forever. This is really the photo-album of the 21st century.