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How to Create a Simple Blurb Photo Book in Lightroom

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

The easiest way to get started with Lightroom’s Book module is to create a simple photo book, letting Lightroom do most of the work for you so you don’t get bogged down in the extensive design process involved in making a more complex book.

Things to do before you start

You will make the book design process much easier by doing, or at least thinking about, the following things before you start:

  • Select which photos you’re going to include. Or at least narrow it down as much as you can. You might change your mind many times as you work on the design. Organize them in a Collection.
  • Arrange the photos in the approximate order they will appear in the photo book by clicking and dragging. You can do this in the Filmstrip in the Book module, but it is much easier to do it in Grid View in the Library module. It helps if you have created a Collection containing the photos you wish to include in the photo book. Again, this doesn’t need to be precise as you will probably change your mind as you work your way through the design process.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

  • Choose photos for the front and back covers. The cover photo is the first one in the Collection, the back cover photo is the last. You can change your mind later if you need to.
  • Process your files, if required. Naturally, you have probably already processed the photos you would like to include in your book, but are the photos processed in a consistent way? For example, if you are creating a book containing toned black and white photos have they all been toned the same colour, or are they different? It might be better for the book if they are all toned the same colour. If your photos need processing, it may be helpful to make Virtual Copies, so the originals are unaffected by the changes.
  • Pick which Blurb photo book size to use. There are five to choose from: small square, standard portrait, standard landscape, large landscape and large square. Sizes and prices of Blurb books are outlined on Blurb’s website.
  • Go to Book Preferences, which are found under the Book menu in the Book module (you can’t open them from any other module). Set Default Photo Zoom to Zoom to Fit and leave the Start new books by autofilling box unchecked. The other settings don’t matter for simple photo books.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

Creating a simple photo book

Go to the Book module. If you set your Book Preferences as recommended above, you will see something like this.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

Regardless of what you see on screen, start by clicking the Clear Book button at the top of the Content window. Then go to the Auto Layout panel, set the Preset to One Photo Per Page and use the drop down menu accessed by the double arrow icon to select Edit Auto Layout Preset. The Auto Layout Preset Editor window opens (below). Look for the Zoom Photos To setting and set it to Fit (if it isn’t there already). Click the Done button at the bottom of the window.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

Click the Auto Layout button in the Auto Layout panel. Lightroom creates the book for you. It will look something like this, depending on the number of photos in your book.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

At this stage you will see the words Unsaved Book in the top-left corner. They indicate that the current book layout hasn’t been saved. Click the Create Saved Book button. This prompts Lightroom to open the Create Book window and create a Book Collection – a specialized type of Collection containing photos used in a photo book.

Give the book a name and select a Collection Set to store it in. Click the Create button. Lightroom duplicates the current Collection and turns it into the new Book Collection. It is displayed in the Collections panel with a book icon to differentiate it from other Collections. The name of the Book Collection is also displayed in the top-left corner of the Book module. Lightroom updates the Book Collection every time you make a change, so you can come back to it at any time without losing your work.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

Go to the Book Settings panel and select the Size of the book and the type of Cover you’d like (I chose Standard Landscape with Hardcover Image Wrap for this example). It’s important to decide now which you want, as it may affect the layout if you change them later.

Lightroom displays the estimated price of the photo book at the bottom of the panel (click the double arrow icon to the right of the price to see it in a different currency). The figure changes according to the size of the book, the number of pages in it, and the Paper Type (there is more information about paper types on Blurb’s website.

You can save money by including the Blurb logo page – an extra page at the back of the book with Blurb’s logo. Doing so gives you a discount, but adds an extra page to the layout.


The first and last photos in the Book Collection are used as covers, but Auto Layout also adds them as the first and last photos in the book. If you don’t want them in those positions then you need to remove them.

Starting by going to the first image, right-clicking and selecting Remove Photo.

You should now see a grey square with a cross in it (if you don’t, go to the Guides panel and tick the Show Guides and Photo Cells boxes). The icon indicates the page contains an empty Photo Cell – Lightroom’s term for the spaces allocated to photos within the layout.

The left-hand page is dark grey, indicating that it’s the inside of the front cover, and that you can’t add anything to it.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

Repeat the process with the last photo in the book. This time, right-click the photo and select Remove page.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

Add a white border

The next step is to create a white border around the photos in the book, rather than run them up to the edge of the printed page. The photos will be smaller, but the additional white space will give the book a more professional look.

Click on a page containing a photo in the landscape orientation to activate it and go to the Cell panel. Grab the bottom slider and move it right. The other sliders should move with it at the same time (if they don’t, click the grey Link All square – when all the squares are white, they will move together). Adjust the sliders until the photo has a solid white border around it like the one in the screen shot below.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

Right-click on the page and select Save as Custom Page. Switch to the Multi-Page View and go to Edit > Select All to select all the pages in the book (the cover isn’t included).

Click any arrow in a yellow frame, go to Custom Pages and select the page layout you just created. If this is the first time you have done this, it will be the only one there. Lightroom updates the selected pages with the chosen layout.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

Design the covers

Go to the covers spread, click on the front cover and then the grey Add Photo Text button at the bottom. Type in the book title. You can change the font colour, size, and text in the Type panel. Click and drag the yellow border to move the text.

You can’t change the width of a Photo Text Cell. But you can easily move the title left or right by going to the Cell panel and moving the Left slider until the title is positioned where you want it.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

Open the Background panel and select a background colour that complements the front and back covers.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

Go to the title on the spine of the cover, and change it to the title of your book. For consistency, you should use the same font you selected for the title on the front cover.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

Another option for the cover is to expand the photos so that they fill the available space. This will crop the photos, which you may not want, but can look really effective. You may also need to move the title. To do so, right-click on the cover images and select Zoom Photo to Fit Cell. This is what it looks like with my covers.

How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

Congratulations, you have finished your photo book! There are lots of ways you can tweak and improve your design in the Book module,  I may go into those in a later article. But hopefully you now see how easy it is to get started in the Book module. Indeed, if you are happy with this simple design, you can create a photo book in a few minutes.

Uploading your photo to book to Blurb

In order to print your book with Blurb you need a Blurb account, which you can sign up for on their website.

Then, press the Send Book to Blurb button underneath the right-hand panels. Lightroom prompts you to sign into your account. Then, enter the title and author’s name and click the Upload Book button. The upload takes some time, but when it’s done you can sign into your Blurb account online and see your book. Leave this step until you’re ready to order though, as Blurb will delete the book from your account if you don’t order at least one copy within 15 days.

Here are some preview pages from the photo book I just created.

Have you made a book yet? Please share your comments and questions below.
How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom
How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom
How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom
How to create a simple photo book in Lightroom

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Andrew S. Gibson
Andrew S. Gibson

is a writer, photographer, traveler and workshop leader. He’s an experienced teacher who enjoys helping people learn about photography and Lightroom. Join his free Introducing Lightroom course or download his free Composition PhotoTips Cards!

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