Blurb offers a comprehensive set of tools to create your photo book in square and standard large portrait and landscape formats. The smallest option measures 18x18cm, while the biggest landscape book is 33x28cm.
To design your book you can choose between the Bookify Online service in your web browser or download the BookSmart software (available for Mac and PC). The tools allow for image placement, size adjustment and positioning anywhere across the page (or across a double-page spread).
There are many default layouts available, each of which can be customised to suit your preferences. The 'Edit Layout' mode is the platform for more intricate editing – a grid enables accurate positioning with x and y coordinates.
In the main layout there are trim and safe guidelines to help position images. Zooming in shows images in detail, providing a good feel for your creation. There's a page view line at the bottom of the screen, which can be used to shuffle the positions of pages. It's also easy to preview the book as if it were a final version.
Where Blurb really excels, however, is in its features for more demanding users. Blurb offers a plugin for Adobe Lightroom and InDesign (which is up-to-date and compatible with the latest CS5.5 version) to provide absolute creative control. If you don't have this software, you can get a professional to do the work for you and use the PDF To Book feature instead. Every angle is covered.
Once your book's designed, it's stored online, where you can even make it available for public purchase should you so wish.
Blurb's biggest drawback? Its delivery time. The 12 working days we had to wait after ordering was among the longest production time. The book looks good – the cover is well-finished and the ProLine end sheet and premium paper are effective, but the overall image quality is a touch more grainy than in the books of some of Blurb's competitors. On balance, however, Blurb is a professional experience from start to finish.
Price: £42.74 (20-page Large Landscape with Premium Paper (Lustre Finish), ProLine end sheets and Hardcover with ImageWrap)
Postage: £4.99; £11.99 (priority)
Formats: Mac and PC download or online
Delivery time: 11 working days
Good layout presets
Full creative control
Intricate adjustments possible
Plugins & PDF uploads perfect for professionals
Online book store
Slow production and delivery
No large format options
Could do with more design detail regarding the spine gutter size