"Print on demand has completely changed
the way we think about books"


In this movie made as part of our print-on-demand project, Blurb founder and CEO Eileen Gittins explains how new technology is transforming book and magazine publishing and we visit the Dutch factory where our Print Shift magazine is produced.

Unlike traditional books or magazines, which are printed in bulk, a single copy of Print Shift is only produced when somebody orders it. Gittins believes this approach makes high-quality publishing much more accessible. "Blurb is a creative publishing platform that enables anyone in the world to make a proper book," she says.

"Print-on-demand has completely changed the way we think about books"

As a keen photographer, Gittins says her "number one criteria" when she set up Blurb was image quality. "Could we, as a business, faithfully reproduce the intention of the artist, whether you're a photographer, a designer, an architect? I mean, that work needs to look beautiful, right?"

In Europe, Blurb's books and magazines are printed by RPI Paro in a factory in Eindhoven. Jan van Baar, vice president of sales and marketing for RPI Paro, explains that print-on-demand publishing is made possible by advances in digital printing technology. "We are in the middle of a digital revolution," he says. "Print-on-demand is a part of this. It is taking over the market from the older ways of printing because people won't need large numbers in one time. They want to have it tailor-made, one by one."

"Print-on-demand has completely changed the way we think about books"

Gittins agrees. "A book is no longer as precious a thing as we used to think of it," she says. "If you're an architect and you've done a new project and you've got a book on file, just add the new project to it, maybe edit something old out, and you've got your latest and greatest work. It's always available, you can always get it printed on demand."

She continues: "I think it has completely changed how we think about books. They used to be permanent. You might make it once and maybe you'd make a second edition. Now you can make an edition a week if you wanted to."

"Print-on-demand has completely changed the way we think about books"

Buy your copy of Print Shift for £8.95 plus postage and packing »

For more information about Print Shift and to see additional content, visit www.dezeen.com/printshift.

The music featured in this movie is a track called Lights by New Zealand producer SungNam. You can listen to the full track on Dezeen music Project.

  • Blurb is fantastic, I’ve created 14 books now spanning back to October 2008. I make books for myself as holiday photo collections. It’s great to be able to send a link to mates for them to make an order from anywhere in the world. It’s reassuring to know I have a carbon copy backed up in the cloud of all my favorite memories (in book format) should I ever lose all my data or want a new copy.

    The quality has always been fantastic, the price and delivery time seems to be getting a bit better. If you take a lot of pictures, I urge you to have a go at producing a book. It’s a great feeling flicking through your memories – set them free from that hard drive. After all that you would think I work for them, I don’t, I just love the product.

  • J’ai fait imprimer un livre chez Blurb récemment et je dois dire que j’ai été tout de même un peu déçue par la qualité des photos. Par contre c’est un des rares sites d’impression compatible avec un ordinateur Mac!