When I had the opportunity to give away Blurb books to anyone who wanted one, a lot of people left me comments about how frustrating it was make the stars align and make the darn book already. I hear you, I futzed with Bookify A LOT before having it finally make sense. And when I say ‘make sense’ I mean ‘make a book the way I make books both quickly and easily.’

Here’s what I do, every two to three months I make a little hardcover collection of my Instagram photos, I include all of them and lay them out in chronological order.

If you’re interested in doing such a thing (or a book of select photos from Instagram) HERE YOU GO. Follow step by step and you shouldn’t scream at your computer more than once (maybe twice.)

Start at the beginning, which is Blurb.com, from the main page go to ‘Make Your Book’ down to ‘Use Blurb Bookify™ Online.’ (If you already know your book is going to be over 200 pages you’ll have to use BookSmart™ and that’s an entirely different post.)

From the next page choose ‘Get Started.’

At this point you’ll see options for different layouts. Instagram, Facebook and Designer. The rest of this post will walk you through how to ‘Or do it your way in any size’ which can lessen a lot of the frustration if you’re super picky about how your book turns out.

All of my Instagram books are the 7×7 size, the pictures end up being about 5×5 and they are perfect.

Unless you want to add text to every photo, choose the clean and simple layout. It’s easier to add in a few text pages here and there if you want them then to start with text on every other page. I’ve never tried the bold black background. If black is your thing? Go for it.

Next it will ask you where you want to pull your pictures from, I always pull mine directly from Instagram by signing in from this screen:

This is an important step. DO NOT JUST CLICK ON THE FOLDER LABELED INSTAGRAM PHOTOS. As you can see I have 936 photos in my folder and if I tried to add them all to my book I would be lectured about using BookSmart™ for books over 200 pages. Instead, click ‘Open.’

Since I make my books on the last day of the month every two or three months I don’t really have to hunt and peck around for particular photos. I just start with the last photo from the month and go back to the first photo after the last photo I ended on in my last book. Shift+Click between photos to select a large group, then you can Command+Click to add or remove a few random shots you either do or don’t want to use. Selected photos will be highlighted in orange.

Once you’ve selected your photos choose ‘I’ll drag and drop my own photos.’ It will take a little longer but you’ll know they’re going in the order you want. For some reason ‘Place my photos for me’ has never quite worked out despite multiple attempts.

Keep the photos in ‘My Sorting’ if you want them in chronological order of newest to oldest.

Scroll to the far left end of the lightbox along to bottom to find your oldest photo, drag and drop it to the first page, working backwards through the lightbox stream as you add pages to your book. Once you fill the default 20 pages just keep adding more pages with the little ‘add page’ icon at the upper right corner of the book layout until you’ve added all of your photos. (My books are all between 140 and 180 pages.) In this layout option you’ll also have the option to create a title page. I usually include the dates, locations included in the book, as well as any special people who may appear as well.

The photos you drag into the layout will be full bleed, which can be a bit much for an Instagram photo as far as clarity when printed. You’ll have three basic size options for your photos if you choose not to go full bleed and these are smaller, bigger and biggest. I prefer the bigger (not biggest) size myself. The smaller is almost too small and the biggest is just a little too big. You can change the size of each photo as you upload it or go back through and change them all once you have all your photos in order (again, takes a longer time than using a template, but if you want consistent and specific sizing, it’s the only way I’ve found to do it.)

Now that your photos are all in place and sized right, it’s time to design your cover. I prefer the ImageWrap hardcover. I have two little kids looking at these things daily, a dust jacket is out of the question. Plus they just look nicer on my shelf with hardcovers. You can make your cover however you want. Just a title, just one photo or a collage like I do. I add the date and book number to each cover as well (I mean, *NOW* I do. Now that I have this whole process down to a science.)

You can also edit the spine of your book (if you chose hardcover) as well as the back. One of the things I liked least about the automatic Instagram layout was there was no option for adding a back cover image. MOAR PIKCHURS I SAY! I’ve noticed I’ll get a warning that my image is too low resolution to do a full bleed on the back, but I need to just ignore it because when I size them down I get funny, sometimes crooked, and inconsistent edges. Again, the back can have an image, all text, or an image and text (or blank, which boring.) You can also choose from a number of background colors for your cover, the ones I’ve used have all been the default options, I haven’t ventured into custom cover colors yet.

Once your cover, spine and back cover are designed click to preview your book. You’re so close to being done! Once you’ve previewed your book, choose the style of cover you want and get ready to order it!

From the time you complete your book you’ll have two weeks to order a copy or Blurb will delete it.  On the order screen you will have options to upgrade the endsheets (3), the paper (2), make a PDF version (5), order multiple copies (4) as well as different cover options (1). You’ll also have the option at the top to convert your book to an ebook for your iPad for $9.99, I’ve only done this once for a wedding album and it was a nice touch for my clients.) When you’re set, hit order (6.)

Now, about pricing. Upgrading the cover, paper and end sheets will all add up. (The paper is the biggest expense.) If I were to get the softcover and basic paper on 180 page book I would pay $36.99. However I choose to upgrade as these books are investments for me and there always seems to be a discount code available each month. The same 180 page book with premium paper and ImageWrap hardcover was $69.11 (before a 20% discount).

Endsheets? Total personal preference, I’ve ordered them all and don’t have a problem with the standard mid-grey end sheet.

Paper? The thickest and sturdiest (also the most expensive) is the ProLine Pearl Photo Paper. It’s nice, but it’s almost too thick for a book this size. Next in thickness is the ProLine Luster Paper, while the ProLine Matte and Uncoated are about equal. The biggest issue with the uncoated is if a sticky finger gets on it the smudge will stay there forever. Not the best paper for books that will be handled a lot by kids, but by far my favorite to look at and touch. The second best print quality is on the ProLine Lustre paper, but the image size (either small, big, biggest or full bleed) has more to do with image quality than the paper.

So there you have it.

Hope this helps at least one person.

I’ve loved making and having these books, the thought of going back through all 1,200+ of my Instagram photos now to do this? Overwhelming (but I’d still do it.) Keeping up on it every other month makes sure no moments are forgotten in some digital file somewhere.

Go forth! Make tiny books for you to enjoy!

Get 15% off your next book with the code BOOKSFORSUMMER or use the following link: (Code good through June 30th, 2013.)

(Also, this is not sponsored. If nothing else it will help me with making my own books going forward. All opinions are my own, links are affiliate, books paid for with my own money.)

Comments

  1. So I’ve been a longtime reader and feel kind of lame that THIS is the first post I choose to comment on, but… oh well. I LOVE your instagram books and have an unhealthy joy of making photobooks of various trips/vacations, but never would have thought to put together a book of “every day” photos that truly capture so much of family life. Thank you for such an easy to follow, and highly visually appealing, guide! What a treasure for your family!

    Casey Reply:

    @Kate, Ha! Well thanks for coming out to comment! My Instagram books are my favorite because they’re full of so much randomness and memories.

  2. This is fantastic. Having a two year old and 8 month old underfoot, I have thousands of photos and need the step-by-step instruction since my free time is limited. This makes it feel doable! Thanks for the inspiration.

    Casey Reply:

    @Sarah, You’re welcome! I know there’s easier ways to make books, but Blurb ones are my favorite.

  3. THANK YOU for this. I’ve tried to make a Blurb Instagram book many times but the website has left me feeling stabby, and without a book. I make a lot of photo books on shutterfly and can use all sorts of features really I can do it!, but Blurb was difficult. Now, I will make one! Thank you!!!

    Casey Reply:

    @Emily, Good! They really are swell books once you figure the whole system out (or have someone explain it for you!) ;)

  4. I seriously hope you got paid 80 billion dollars for this post because omg.

    Casey Reply:

    @Casey, Heh. Nope. But I could go for 80 Billion. Or even 8 Billion. Or 8, that would buy a dozen donuts.

  5. thanks for this. pinned it so i can come back later.

  6. Just a heads up I cannot get the link to work on Google Chrome via Windows 8.

  7. This is great!!! I just found this and have a question — do you place your captions in your books? Or do you just have the pics? Do they show the dates?

    Thanks!

  8. Melissa C says:

    Thank you for this!! I use Blurb Booksmart to make my yearly family photo books, and haven’t tried this style yet. I love Blurb!

  9. Thanks for this great tutorial! I’ve been wanting to make a blurb but haven’t because it all looked way too confusing. Now I will try, Thanks again!