Written by Dan Milnor, photographer and Creative Evangelist for Blurb.
If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me the difference between Blurb and Magcloud I would not be rich. Let me make that very clear. I would not be rich. However, I would be able to afford a mid-sized sedan. Maybe not the top-of-the-line package but the one with air conditioning and power windows, yep, that one for sure. I understand the curiosity which is why I’m writing this post. Let’s talk a little about the similarities, the differences and why I think Magcloud is such a wonderful platform.
Blurb acquired Magcloud in 2014, so the companies have been intertwined ever since. I’ve heard Magcloud described as the sister company to Blurb but I think any family member analogy works just fine. Cousin, brother, uncle or maybe even biological twin. Blurb and Magcloud are both printing platforms that allow for the user to make a variety of publications, in a variety of sizes and styles, with numerous material options. They both also offer a variety of design tools and the ability to sell your book or magazine through an online store from where your items can be shipped to destinations around the world. This is the kind of talk that gets bookmakers salivating. I know, I’m right there with you.
The World of MagCloud
Even though Magcloud has been connected to Blurb since 2014, the platform is unique and works not only as a stand-alone system but also as a wonderful companion to Blurb, or vice versa. Magcloud offers a line of formats that are native to the system and entirely different from the Blurb offering. Magcloud offers Magazines, Pamphlets, Flyers, an 8×8 Square, Tabloid, Posters, a Digest in both landscape and portrait formats, and even a digital offering. Yes, quite a lineup, and within some of these categories there are even further options. The Flyer for example comes in five trim sizes! The Tabloid comes in three different trim sizes and the Magazine is printable in both landscape and portrait format! Did I mention that Magcloud offers perfect binding, saddle stitch binding, and wire-o binding? And I’m only scratching the surface here.
Let me make a few suggestions about these formats. A Magazine could be used for telling a long-form story, or collaborating with other creatives on a specific theme or topic. You could use the Pamphlet format for a real-estate need or a newsletter. The Flyer is great for handouts, a program for a gallery show, or even as a mailer to your top clients. The Digest, which is my personal favorite, is wonderful for a portfolio, a look-book, or catalog. The Square also works as a portfolio or even as a photo book style publication. The Tabloid works as a cookbook or calendar and the poster is great as stand-alone artwork, or to accompany a book launch or signing. And finally, the digital option is great for a technical manual, a guide book, or even as a companion to a printed book or magazine.
Magcloud is also unique when it comes to its creation or design tools. If you already have a PDF ready for print then you can upload it directly. If you’re at the start of your project, Magcloud offers a wonderful template system which makes it incredibly easy to secure the right look for your precise publication style. You simply choose the format, the binding, and your software of choice then download that template and begin your masterpiece. Your favorite software could include Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, Pages for Mac, Microsoft Word for both PC and Mac, Microsoft Publisher and for those of you who prefer to go old-school, and I mean REALLY old school, you can even download a template for Quarkxpress.
How I use MagCloud
But what does all this mean? Why is Magcloud so important, so interesting, and so strategic? Let me share with you why I have been a consistent Magcloud user since 2007.
First, the quality of the printing. Magcloud printing is beautiful and utilizes acid-free and FSC-certified paper, which means it’s from responsibly managed forests and verified recycled sources. Magcloud publications are also recyclable, making it easy on consumers and the environment.
I also love the fact I have multiple binding options with Magcloud. Maybe I’m in a perfect binding mood or maybe I’m in a saddle stich frame of mind. Doesn’t matter because I have the options.
Then there’s the template system. I have no design background and even I can use these templates! The template system assures me I am working with precise dimensions regardless of what I’m attempting to build.
Next, I love the format options. My personal favorites are the Digest and 8×8 Square, but I have used just about every offering in the system and they all have strategic uses.
Finally, the cost. Magcloud is so inexpensive it can be astounding to see just how little you have to spend to get something that looks so great. Hint, there is a pricing calculator on the site!
Like any other printing platform, my advice is this. Start small, be fearless, and make a test book or magazine. An 8-page, Magcloud Digest is $1.28 per copy. Yes, you read that correctly. And these are beautiful, strategic little objects that work well as a portfolio or even a business card. And again they are $1.28 per copy. What’s not to like? Learn from your test book and then move on to making your full scale opus.
Magcloud lives in a unique space in the printing world and should be on the top of your list for any print project that fits the platform. Blurb and Magcloud are related, yes, but each system offers its own pathway to book-making success.