The Good, The Bad, and Blurb.com - UPDATE
It's time to update you on my latest Blurb experience. Long story short: They did good.
As you recall from our last adventure, while I had good experiences with the Blurb book service while working on both my 365 Portraits and Japan books, I got terrible output from my portfolio which I designed in InDesign and sent to them via PDF. All the shadow detail was lost into blackness in a way that was unacceptable.
Their customer support replied to my email and told me, in what I took to be a very condescending tone, that my images were too dark. Basically, it was my fault, 'Go brighten up those images and send us a new file, here's some store credit to try again', was what I took away from it. I wrote back saying that they shouldn't blame their customers so quickly. Explaining my calibrated setup, workflow in creating the pdf according to their specs, and pointing out that my images were never a problem in my other books (a few were even the same images).
I guess my rant bumped me up to the next support level because I got another guy who apologized for the tone of the first email, said he looked into it and that my images were too dark. So I wrote back again to give him the CMYK numbers of gray areas in the images that showed up black in the book. I figured actually data was a more objective case.
Finally the gut wrote back and said they were having the book reprinted to see if was just a dark printing that was within their specs of variability. Sounded like an excuse to me, but whatever. I got the new book yesterday and it's MUCH improved. In fact, the images are right where they're supposed to be. The images on the cover interestingly enough are still shadow detail dead, which gave me pause upon opening the box, but the ones on the pages are great. AND, I think I still have that store credit to play with.
Here's a side by side comparison for you. Left is the old one, Right is the new. See how the whole left hand corner of the image is black? In fact it's more black than the black background of the page. The one on the right has a correctly black background. And a tonal range of grays the way they should be.
So, in conclusion. Blurb did good. I had to fight a bit to get them to do it, but it all worked out in the end. Next time, I think I'm going to stick to the BookSmart software though. The PDF based books were printed in SF, while the ones from BookSmart came from upstate NY and I had no problems with them.