Being able to create and publish your own book isn’t anything new since iPhoto has been doing it for years. I did come across a new entry into the category that I thought was really interesting this week in Blurb.com. You download their BookSmart software and can create a book much like you have in other programs but what makes it different is the addition of several new features like the ability to automatically suck in blog content, you can collaborate with other people to create your book and when it is done you can set a price and sell it in their bookstore.
First, the ability to suck in blog content works with all major blogging engines and all you have to do is put in your log-in, click which entries you want in the book and it sucks down all the content and puts it into your selected book size and layout. There are a lot more page layout options that I expected though since I am a designer I was hoping for a few more but that will always be the case. I tried it with this blog and it was really easy to get the content in but you quickly realize the problem is that you have to go back and replace all the photos because since it is a blog I am not using an image size or quality that is anywhere near good enough for print.
I like that they have also included the ability to collaborate on book with other people as it adds the community element to the process. It is set-up so even though it is a collaboration one person serves as the editor who pulls in and controls the content from the contributors. This seems like it could have a lot of potential for writers, designers and potentially for it to be re-skinned and used advertisers who have a consumer base that would like to do something like this.
Finally when the book it done you can set your options and price and put the book up for sale in their bookstore. The content has to be original since it is for sale but the amount of content here is growing quickly and includes some really good work that is worth checking out.
I think it will be interesting to see how Blurb build on their model but I think it has a lot of potential and should really appeal to the ‘pro-sumers’ who want more control, integration and a place to sell their work than what they get in basic applications like iPhoto.