Choose photo book by price or quality?

Written by on August 26, 2010 in News - 19 Comments

For each long trip to another country, I make a photo book containing most of the photos I’ve taken. I’ve tried multiple services for this purpose. Some of them are better than the other.  A while back ago I used Snapfish to process my photo books. They were the best alternative for me at that point. I was working on a stationary PC and Snapfish had special client for PC-users to take advantage of. Today, more and more services are available and with even more options to chose from (paper quality, number of pages, hard vs. soft cover etc.).

One downside of Snapfish at that moment, was that the client was quite buggy (at least on my computer). The quality of the prints in the book was also not that astonishing, as I would like them to be.

The day I bought my new Macbook, the possibility to use Snapfish ended. I never got the Mac-version of the software to work out. From what I’ve heard today, they are using an online service instead of a downloadable software client (as they did before).

Two of my books (A trip to India and Thailand) have been ordered from Blurb. Since I’m a regular Mac user now and I like the idea of having a client installed to make my books, they’ve been my No.1 choice. Good price, fast delivery and a very nice client to work with when editing the books. The quality of the prints could be better though. I think the color could be more vibrant than what they are (even on premium paper).

Anyway. It’s hard to compare the quality of the paper/prints if you’re not ordering an exact copy of the book from each provider.

I have recently tried a new online service called Photobox.com. Mainly because I wanted to update my portfolio coffee-table book that I bring to the clients I meet. I thought is was a great opportunity to try a new service.

I must say that the quality of this book is the best one of all the ones I’ve done so far!

The book that I made has 96 pages, a hard cover and premium paper (option). It took me around 1 hour to make the book even though I’ve never tried their service before. To round things up I would like to point out a few thing that came to my mind while I was working with the book.

Great stuff

  • Web based (works on all platforms, PC or Mac etc.)
  • Simple interface and usage
  • Autofill (One click and your book is filled with the images you’ve chosen)
  • Many different templates
  • Premium book options (Select paper quality, cover etc)
  • Payment choices (I like the possibility to use Paypal)
  • Multilingual

Not so great

  • No software client (Some of us would like to be able to work offline)
  • Price indication (You don’t see the price of your book until you’re finished to order. I would like to see what the difference, adding a page or two, would make on the price while I’m working with the book.)
  • The price (Although the quality was great I think that $130 is quite much for a 96 pages book. I paid $72 for 122 pages at Blurb with shipping included)

I recommend using Photobox if you’re looking for great quality and a simple interface to work with.

There are tons of online providers out “there”.
What is your choice of provider when it comes to photo books? Please leave a comment below.
Thanks!

About the Author

If you are a Lightroom lover like myself you probably going to adore this place. It's the paradise for all people who are looking for Lightroom presets. Make sure you subscribe to my posts to be first with the latest contributions. I wish you a very pleasant stay. Regards, Pierre

19 Comments on "Choose photo book by price or quality?"

  1. Juan August 27, 2010 at 7:11 am ·

    Thank you Pierre! I want to try Photobox. But I see is most for Europe. I will ask them if the shipping is not so expensive to US.

    They should give you 100 books for free!

    Thank you!

    Juan

  2. Guy August 27, 2010 at 8:47 am ·

    Great idea to make a review of this. It’s pretty hard to find quality reviews of book printers these days. Of course there are overviews in magazines but I find they always miss the user experience. Thanks.

  3. Pierre August 27, 2010 at 8:58 am ·

    Thank you Juan!
    100 books for free would have been a nice gesture ;-)

  4. Pierre August 27, 2010 at 9:00 am ·

    Thank you Guy!
    I feel the same way you do, about the reviews by magazines.
    Cheers,
    P

  5. plain_jo August 27, 2010 at 2:48 pm ·

    I have had good success with Winkflash. Their Prints look amazing too.

  6. Kelly C. September 10, 2010 at 10:04 pm ·

    Great post and would like to see a poll on more. I was happy with the built in iPhoto book that I built on my Mac (about $100 for 100 pages and hard cover) and have thought about using Costco (I’ve heard good things about the company that runs their printing business–Dry Creek).
    Anyone tried lulu?

  7. Pierre September 10, 2010 at 10:51 pm ·

    Thank you Kelly for your comment.
    Perhaps Costco or Lulu might be the next provider to test. Anyone out there tried them before?
    Thanks, Pierre

  8. [email protected] restoration services October 14, 2010 at 3:55 pm ·

    Great idea to make a review of this.I want to try Photo box. Can you give me some suggestion.

  9. Jamie December 15, 2010 at 10:12 pm ·

    I’ve used MyPublisher several times but I always wait until they have % off coupons or buy one get one if I want to make a book for myself and have one to give as a gift.

  10. Asia January 6, 2011 at 2:01 pm ·

    I’ve heard only good stuff about Lulu so I will be trying them out. I use photobox all the time for matt prints, excellent quality, I made one book with them and the quiality was great but I wasn’t too keen on their templates / cover styles and they are costly.
    p.s great site you have here! =D

  11. Andy January 24, 2011 at 1:16 pm ·

    If you are living in Finland, I can recommend Eirikuva(www.eirikuva.fi) as the place to order photo books. Great quality and good software.

  12. Kiley January 28, 2011 at 10:41 am ·

    I have used Blurb twice, once for a photo book and once for a blog-to-book project. I found the Blurb software to be very buggy on my MacBook Pro. It took me many hours of work to complete the blog book because the “slurp” feature didn’t deal with punctuation correctly, so I had to manually proofread and insert punctuation on every page. However, the photo quality was adequate for my purposes, the hard cover binding was good quality, and best of all, a 285-page standard size book cost less than $70 US.

  13. gts March 25, 2011 at 5:15 pm ·

    This is probably common knowledge among you, but Shutterfly’s quality leaves much to be desired. The print quality ain’t bad, and the prices are great. But the three books I ordered from them began falling apart within a month. You get what you pay for, I guess.

  14. Dean April 2, 2011 at 5:27 pm ·

    There’s another new service called ubyu http://www.ubyubooks.com who have lots of sizes, and options to choose from such as debossing and foiling. Oh and they have three stocks of paper!

  15. Chris J October 24, 2011 at 3:25 am ·

    Easily the highest quality books are from Asukabook.com. They are just amazing. THICK paper, thick covers, you can choose gloss, semi-gloss, matte finish paper. You can get a slipcover, leather covers.. the quality and style is unmatched.

    They are a bit exclusive in the sense that they need to verify that you are a professional photographer. They’re marketed primarily at wedding photographers.

    Oh yeah… they are EXPENSIVE, but so are weddings.

    If you want top quality and are willing to pay for it, I’d go with them.

  16. Antony February 27, 2012 at 9:56 am ·

    I have received terrible service from UBYU and want to inform others so that they can make an informed choice before using their service. I used their book software and followed all the guidelines and believed that because I had used their software that the image on screen would be as close as possible to the printed product. I was very wrong, the images printed were considerably darker and the colour images were dreadful. I wrote to UBYU almost immediately and did not receive a response from them for nearly two months. The response I received stated that I may want to tweak the brightness/ contrast of my monitor, although they did not offer any advice of how to adjust it so that it would be an accurate reflection of what would be printed. They then advised that the best way to determine how the images would print out it to order a copy!!! I wont be using UBYU again due to their poor customer services and because their software does not reflect the product that you receive.

  17. Simon March 7, 2012 at 5:00 pm ·

    I noticed the recommendation for Ubyu by Dean above, I presume the same Dean who runs Ubyu. Like Antony above I was very disappointed with Ubyu. I have been making press printed books for a couple of years and was taken by Ubyu’s website which promised ultra high quality press printed books. I ordered a large hardback book at a cost of around £100 and waited for it to arrive. The book was dreadful, for a start many of the pages had big scratches, most pages had tramlines through printing, the first page was damaged along one edge. The printing was very poor, totally lacking saturation and very dark. I contacted Dean at Ubyu with these concerns and eventually received an email back saying they have thousands of happy customers so they were surprised by my comments. Eventually (after about a week of emails and me sending photographs of the state of my book) they said they “might” have to reprint my book. After the hassle so far I decided I’d rather have a refund and not have the disappointment of another poor quality book. I was informed Ubyu never give refunds, which is against the Sales of Goods act. I have since posted the book back at my expense and heard nothing from Ubyu. The customer service is non existent and they really don’t seem to care once they have your money. I am now at the stage of taking them to the small claims court for a refund.

  18. Clair staples April 21, 2012 at 8:11 pm ·

    Being European company I can imagine the cost of shipping to the US would be prohibitive. LR4 is set up to link to blurb or it can do a pdf what US based companies cab you or anyone here recommend?

  19. Wedding Photographer Melbourne August 21, 2012 at 10:33 am ·

    I find blurb pretty reliable, but it’s best to go for all the premium features – select the best paper – it makes a difference. As with most things, you get what you pay for!

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