I have written a few pieces on how the book publishing business needs to / is going to change because of the web. [Book Publishing Moves West? . Will the Digital Era Change Writing? . eBooks Future]. In this interview, I speak with Eileen Gittins, CEO of Blurb, who is attempting to democratize self-publishing by making it economic and convenient, bypassing retailers, publishers, and agents.
SM: Please describe your personal background : Family, upbringing, early career, etc. leading up to Blurb. EG: I am a child of immigrants; my mother’s family moved to New York City from Ireland and my father came to the US from England after World War II. My parents met in NYC, had four children, and moved the whole lot of us out to California when I was in second grade. Education, competitive sports (I was a competitive swimmer), and a strong work ethic were the hallmarks of my childhood. My mother was an avid reader and my father an avid photographer, so I guess I come by my interest in both honestly.
Blurb is the most fun company I have ever run, which is saying a fair amount as I have lived and worked all over the world with Kodak, and as VP at Wall Data before and after the IPO, CEO of Personify (behavioral segmentation and analytics) and Verb (context search), outside Board Director at Qbiquity and Popular Demand.
SM: Where did you get the idea for Blurb? Are you a writer? What is your domain experience in the Publishing business?
EG: I’m a photographer, and after selling my second company, I had some time to get back into photography. I never stopped photographing since my days studying photography, and that’s how Blurb got started. I wanted to create a beautifully designed and produced photo essay book – something that looked like a book you’d buy at the bookstore – but I only needed 40 copies. This turned out to be remarkably painful, expensive, and time-consuming – and I thought that was just wrong. So I started Blurb.