Time for a review of my photobook publishing experiences! In early January I used two different online publishing websites to design and print two different types of books. They arrived while I was out of town and I thought I'd share the results with you.
The Shutterfly book on top is a soft cover 8x11" book using their Custom Path option with the Noel style. It's fairly straight-forward... you upload the photos you would like to use in your book to Shutterfly and then design the book page by page, deciding how many photos you might want to use on that particular page, choose a layout, drag and drop your photos, move them around, change backgrounds, add clip art, etc. I don't know if I never noticed it or if it's something new on Shutterfly but there is an option to choose more layouts or backgrounds to expand the options. When I've designed books in the past, I've been frustrated by the lack of choices but this helped a lot. If I were more savy with digital scrapbooking, I would design my layouts and upload them to the book, but this works for me and I like the result. I'll add the title to the cover with Thicker letter stickers.
Here's a look at some of the inside pages:
It's a great way to incorporate a ton of pictures into a book - I think the full page photos really stand out and look beautiful. This book was 53 pages and cost $44 with tax and shipping. There are often coupons and special offers. It took a couple days to design - I love it and think it is worth it. I like the quality of the paper and the print quality of the photographs.
The second book is the blog book from Blurb. With Blurb, you choose the option for a blog book, fill in the web address for your blog, and then it "slurps" your blog - you then choose the entries you want to upload and it fills the content into a book for you. I chose the 8x10" hardcover image wrap book with 60 pages on standard weight paper. It cost $53 with tax and shipping.
Here is the book laying open - I wish I had reversed the photos - I think the cover photo is too busy and you can't read the title on the front.
The book itself is assembled perfectly. I'm happy with the quality of the paper and binding. I'm not in love with the pictures inside though. I think many of them look "muddy" and that the small thumbnail photos that are the default size pictures for most of the layouts are too tiny to really appreciate what the photo is about. If I did this again, I would choose better options and have the photos be larger.
Here's an example with the tiny pictures:
For me the photos with people are too small to enjoy. I like the layouts with larger photos much better!
On the right hand page, I thought that the color on some of the photos was distorted. Here's a close up and then the photo that was uploaded, as an example.
You can see that my face is noticeably more orange/red in the book than in the photo - I don't know why this happened on just some photos when they were all saved and uploaded in the same way.
I love the concept of the book but if I did it again, I would make some changes. I wouldn't use the thumbnails very much (although that is the option for most pages) but use larger selections for the photos. Also, it is a very time-consuming process. When it slurps your blog into the book, all the entries run together, so to separate them into one entry per page or layout, you have to go back and hit the space bar until it moves to a new page (unless I'm doing something wrong,) If you make a change somewhere in your book, then you have to go back and respace it because the content will have shifted again - even a one line change can off set the whole book. I also felt that the layout options were very limited.
I liked having all the blog posts together in book form, and I like that it took the blog content for me and made it ready to use, and like I said, the quality of the book itself is excellent.
I haven't contacted either company personally for their feedback. Let me know if you have any questions! What do you think of the books? Have you used any other photo book printing companies?