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Photo books are a great way to compile memories in a more tangible way than storing all your pictures online or in boxes. They make for great anniversary gifts, birthday presents, or even just yearly projects to keep on your coffee table for easy browsing.
It is also not uncommon for photo books to be made with wedding photos and/or engagement photos for guests to sign at wedding receptions. Needless to say, photo books are something most of us will be making at some point in our lifetime.
Tuesday, January 19th
Mixbook was founded in 2006 and provides more than just photo books. They also specialize in prints, calendars, home decor, invitations, and announcements. Basically, anything you need to print a photo on for display or mail, Mixbook can do it. They have over 5 million users who have created over 15 million products. Every aspect of a design is customizable with Mixbook, so they allow customers to create unique and personal projects.
Over 400 photobook themes
Mixbook has over 474 themes that customers can choose from when creating their photo book. A few of these include wedding, travel, rustic, simple modern, baby, hand drawn, and many more. It is easy to scroll through the list of options to get a quick feel for the different styles and select the one that you like best. If you can't find a theme that you love, you always have the option to design your photobook from scratch.
Variety of features
In addition to the great number of themes, there is a wide variety of fun features you can choose from when creating your photobook with Mixbook. These include:
Cost varies based on selections
The cost for your photo book is determined by your design choices. The layout and dimensions you choose for your book, along with the type of paper you want the pages to be printed on and the style of the book (softcover, hardcover, leather, etc.) will change the price. Mixbook photobooks come with a standard number of pages depending on the chosen theme, and then it costs extra to add each page from there. The cost for extra pages varies a bit based on the type of pages and size, but it is usually starts around $1.39 per page.
Once you finish designing your photobook, printing time can be as little as 1-2 days. Similarly, shipping times are typically 1-2 days. This means that, from the time you finalize your photobook, you can usually expect delivery anywhere from 2-4 days. It's hard to beat that turnaround time.
Top quality, affordable price
Mixbook is a high-quality, robust option for creating photo books. We are impressed with the many themes that customers can choose from, as well as all the customizable details. They receive an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau and take customer service seriously. We highly recommend using Mixbook to make your next photo book. They earn our highest rating.
Shutterfly might be one of the most well-known photo printing companies. They have been around since 1999, providing custom photo services to customers. Like many of their competitors, in addition to their photo books, Shutterfly sells cards and stationery, prints, gifts, calendars, wall art, decor, and wedding products. All of their inventory can be customized with photos.
Professional design, or do-it-yourself
There are three options that you can take advantage of when making your photo book at Shutterfly. One is more unique than any others we have seen. Customers can upload their photos and special instructions for Shutterfly's designers to make the book for them. Within 3 business days, the photo book will be ready for viewing and the customer gets to decide if they want to add any finishing touches or make changes and then buy the book. The design fee at the time of this review was $0, but is usually $10.
The other two options for photo book creation are make-it-yourself options. The custom path design allows for each page to be personalized down to the last detail. Text and photos can be added anywhere in the book and customers can choose from different backgrounds, layouts, and embellishments. For a more simple, fast photo book, the simple path design automatically arranges uploaded photos for you. Captions can be added if desired.
6 different photobook sizes
Photo books at Shutterfly come in six different sizes from 7"x9" to 12"x12". Once your size is selected, you can choose from the many beautiful photo book themes. They cover just about all the celebrations, activities, and special events you might be creating a photo book for. The design functions at Shutterfly are easy to use and allow for a lot of creative freedom. The amount of layout choices for each page ensures that no two books made on this website will be the same. You can truly create a photo book here that fits your own unique style.
The end price will be determined on the size, theme, book type, and page options. Adding pages to the standard amount that comes with the book is another $1.00+. To give a general idea of pricing, if you choose the 8"x11" size with the 20 standard included pages, your photo book will cost around $22. Shutterfly has really affordable options for customers and free shipping is offered for orders of $49 or more.
Shutterfly has an A- rating from the Better Business Bureau. Even more telling is the number of satisfied customers that use Shutterfly for their photo projects. Great things are said about their customer service and their willingness to make their shoppers happy if any issues arise. We highly recommend using Shutterfly for your photo books and other photo projects.
Vistaprint is unique in their purpose. Rather than just selling to individuals for their own custom photo creations, they were founded to help small business owners create custom marketing products. They are best known for their business cards that they have been printing since 1995. They work to have designs for everyone and every occasion.
Variety of photobook options
There are three routes you, as a customer, can go when creating a photo book with Vistaprint. Like other photo book creation sites, they have hardcover options that come in seven sizes and layouts. They can either have a linen or photo cover. The other two options are simpler and more inexpensive. They are spiral-bound, laminated photo books that either display one photo per page with text or six photos per page with some captions. The last two options are both small books that would be best if you are making a book for children.
For the hardbound photo books at Vistaprint, the cost ranges from $13 to $50, depending on the chosen size of book. Each book contains 24 pages with the option to add more double-sided pages for $0.75 to $1.50 each. The maximum number of pages that can be added to any photo book is 120. The cost for photo books is a starting price because the type of photo paper (glossy or matte) and cover chosen may cost extra.
Easy to design, but no pre-made themes
For customizing your photo book, you can either download an editor to your computer, or use their online version. To save your work along the way with the online version, you'll need to make an account with Vistaprint. Once you get designing, you'll find that their tools are very similar to most other photo book design websites and it is really easy to use. The biggest downside to using Vistaprint is that there are no pre-made themes for their hardcover books. Anything you create will be from scratch, which often takes a lot longer and may be overwhelming to anyone who has never made a photo book before.
People like their photobooks
People seem to like the photobooks they create with Vistaprint. We did find that there were mixed customer reviews for Vistaprint, the company. At first this was concerning, but it seems that some people have had delivery issues with their prints. Any negative feedback does not seem related to their photo books. Customer service receives high praises overall from people who have had concerns with their orders.
The Better Business Bureau gives Vistaprint an A+ rating. The main reason Vistaprint has not earned our highest rating is due to the fact that they do not have themes for customers to choose or gather ideas from when creating their books. If you don't want to create your photo book from scratch, we recommend one of our higher-ranked photo book companies instead.
While Photobook America literally has the word "photobook" in their name, they sell a lot more than that. Looking for metal prints? Custom puzzles, luggage tags, wall stickers, or greeting cards? Photobook America sells all that and more. We are pleased with their photobook options, but disappointed to find that they receive average, sometimes unsatisfactory feedback from their customers about their purchases.
Over 150 photobook products
All in all, there are 158 different photo book products to choose from at Photobook America. Each style is very different, so there should be something for everyone that captures the feel of the memories you're hoping to put into your photo book.
Photo books come in a few different themed categories. They include:
Once you've selected the theme you want to customize, you're taken through a series of book options that will affect your total price and how many pictures you're able to upload into the photo book. Each book comes in square, portrait, or landscape options, each with their own dimensions to choose from. For example, if you want a large 12" x 12" hardcover book that lays flat, the base cost goes up to $184.99. Luckily Photobook America runs periodic sales on their books, so at the time of this review customers were eligible for up to 60% off their purchases with the use of a discount code.
Good design process
The process to tailor your photo book is easy to learn. You can simply drag photo boxes around the pages, add text, place clipart, and frame the pictures throughout the pages. The "preview" button gives a good idea of what the book will look like without all the editing tools as you go along the creation process. Like many competing photo book companies, you can add pages at an additional cost if you need more room at the end of your book.
7-day shipping guarantee
Photobook America guarantees 7-day shipping on all their products. If you don't qualify for free shipping, you can expect to pay $8.99 or more to have your photo book delivered. Some customers have complained that they did not get their orders within the promised timeframe from Photobook America. Others said that when trying to reach out to customer service for an order status, they reached dead ends and did not get the answers they were seeking.
We wish that there was more positive feedback about Photobook America and their delivery processes. However, they seem to at least provide high-quality products that customers are happy with. We like that they run sitewide discounts to make their products more affordable. Overall, they provide lots of fun themes for books and seem to be a good place to go if you don't run into issues that you need to reach out to customer service for. They have earned an average rating from us due to the varying pros and cons of shopping here.
In previous years, Picaboo has been featured on the Today Show, DailyCandy, The Wall Street Journal, DealCrunch, Valley News, and SheKnows. They receive an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, which is great. Customers won't find as many themes at Picaboo as they will at our highest-rated site, but it is a good choice for those looking to make a simple photo book.
5 photobook options
Five photo books are listed as options for customization on Picaboo's website. However, not all of them are currently in production, so that's something to look out for. The five options include:
Not as many features
Inexperienced photo book designers can learn to customize their designs using this service. You'll definitely be getting a simple book here when compared to our highest-rated sites. Customers have reported uneven photo quality from prints and photo books they have ordered from Picaboo. If you're a professional, you might be heavily critiquing your end product when using this service, but for most people, Picaboo may do the job just fine.
Guarantee, but only on errors
Picaboo's photo books come with a 100% guarantee, meaning if your book arrives and there are discrepancies between what was shown on your screen during the design process and the end product, they will fix it and send you a new one. Outside of this, there is no return policy, so we can assume that unless there was an error on their part, they will not be exchanging or refunding any products purchased from them.
Check for discounts
We recommend quickly checking out Picaboo's "Special Offers" page before creating a photo book, in case they have vouchers for sale or other discount codes that will make your photo book more affordable. Most books from Picaboo get expensive fast if you are wanting to make it high-quality and add a lot of pages. On top of the price of your photo book, the cost for shipping is at least another $4.99 or more depending on the desired delivery times.
Overall, Picaboo is a good place for creating simple photo books. Their existing themes aren't as modern as many people like and some of their clipart is cheesy, but if you aren't looking for all the bells and whistles, making a photo book here is not a bad way to go. We would definitely recommend one of our higher-ranked sites over Picaboo, but we aren't concerned that customers will be dissatisfied with this provider.
Nations Photo Lab transforms memories into art by allowing customers to upload photos for prints, picture albums, photo books, cards, gifts, and wall decor. They have been in business since 2005 with the goal of providing the best quality, turnaround times, and prices.
15 photobook themes
All of the photo books that you can create at Nations Photo Lab are hardcover and made with either leather, cloth, or lustre materials. They come in 5 sizes: 5x7", 8x8", 8.5x11", 10x10", and 12x12". You can choose for your book to be oriented either landscape or portrait. There are 15 photo book styles or "themes" to choose from at Nations Photo Lab or you can start from scratch and create your own. The pre-created styles are all very general, so you won't find as much variety here as you do with a higher-rated photo book site.
Photo books start at $29, but the end price is determined by the size, photo paper, cover choice, and the binding chosen. All books come standard with the option of adding up to either 21 or 29 photos total depending on the style chosen. It is about $1.30 for each additional page added if you have more pictures for your photo book than fit with the base price version. Once your book is finished, it will ship for free if you've spent over $49, otherwise ground shipping costs $6.95.
Mixed customer reviews
Although Nations Photo Lab receives an A rating from BBB, their customers have mixed things to say about their experiences here. Customers recently have complained that their quality is going downhill fast, which is concerning. Some have said that printing has been crooked, wording has been wrong, coloring was off, or pages were duplicated in their photo books. Many customers have been ordering from Nations Photo Lab for years and are now less satisfied with their customer service and the products they receive. This trend is something to be aware of, but in past years they have had many happy customers who feel Nations Photo Lab went out of their way to deliver high-quality products.
Nations Photo Lab is going to provide you with more basic photo albums. You won't find stickers here or very many templates to fit specific occasions. If you don't feel you are the creative type who can arrange photos, fonts, and background designs into an appealing photo book from scratch, we suggest using a higher-rated site that offers more unique themes for easier drag-and-drop designs.
Snapfish is headquartered in San Francisco, California and has been in business since 1999. We will jump in by saying that they have earned one of the lowest ratings in the bunch of photo book retailers because they receive a D- rating from the Better Business Bureau and more than enough negative feedback from customers about their services. If you choose to make a photo book here, you might be disappointed in your product.
Good variety of photobook options
There are quite a few photo book options at Snapfish. They let customers choose from eight different sizes and up to five different types of books in any given size. The types of books here include hardcover, layflat hardcover, softcover, portrait softcover, matte, linen hardcover, leather hardcover, and premium layflat hardcover. A "starting at" price is listed for each type of book, so you know what price range you're getting into before selecting the photo book you want.
Wide range of photobook themes
There are quite a few themes that customers can use to get started on their book. These themes make it easy to design your photo book without having to choose stickers, borders, page prints, text fonts, etc. from scratch. The categories of themes are:
Easy to design
The many modern designs available within each category are appealing and seem to include a style that would cater to everyone regardless of the purpose for making their photo book. The features included for designing are easy to use. A quick walk-through shows users where to find all the embellishments for the pages and how to drag and drop photos and text. Someone who has never made a photo book before could easily figure out how to make one at Snapfish.
There are about 20 pages included with each book. To add more photos to your book, you can pay about $1.99 (depending on the book style chosen) and get two more additional pages. The starting cost for photo books here ranges from $12.99 to $109.99. Their prices are comparable to their competitors and would be affordable to most people looking to capture memories with a nice photo book.
From the look of the website, photo book theme selection, and ease of use to design unique products, one would think Snapfish was a great place to make and purchase a photo book. Unfortunately, many customers have complained of glitches on Snapfish's website that have caused them to lose hours of work, or they have finished a project only to have their payment rejected due to an error and have to start all over. Others have said that the quality of their photos looked great online but were pixelated once they were printed. Other complaints go on and on. It seems as though Snapfish used to provide a better user experience, but loyal customers say things are going downhill.
We wish we could give Snapfish a higher recommendation, but the amount of negative feedback they have received, along with the bad rating from the Better Business Bureau, lands them low on our list of suggested photo book retailers. For a more hassle-free, reliable experience, we suggest you try making your photo book with one of our higher-rated sites.
It used to be that in order to make a photo book, you would print hundreds of photos, purchase binders, stickers, fancy paper, and buy the tools to cut out fun edges for borders. Then it might take hours to glue pages together and hand write a description for each page. This scrapbooking method, although fun for some, was extremely time consuming and resulted in thick books that take up a lot of space. With online photo books, customers can quickly upload their photos and arrange everything in an appealing and functional way.
The other great thing about online photo books is they are easily customizable and can be made to suit many people's styles. They can be as simple as a photo dump of just pictures, or made to look like a scrapbook page with fancy borders, stickers, and text. If you are making a photo book of your beach vacation, some websites let you pick photo book themes so that you can add seashell stickers, "sandy" looking pages, and palm tree frames to the pictures. Whatever the theme, you can get really creative when making your photo book.
When searching for photo books, consider the following things to ensure you get the best deal and online shopping experience:
TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best photo books available today. We hope these reviews help you find the best website to create a memorable photo book that you are happy with.
The simple answer to that question lies outside of the photo book itself: Digital photography and a computer.
The days of coming back from a European vacation with a hundred rolls of exposed film and no way of knowing if you got a good photograph of anything is over. After spending many dollars on developing the film, it was normal to fill several traditional photo albums with shots of dubious quality, a time consuming and expensive activity. Few people, aside from yourself, want to see a dozen shots of the Eiffel Tower from different angles. But they will be happy to look at one great photo of the icon on the Seine, especially if it was taken by you. If it is context with other spectacular photos of the City of Light, well, what's not to like?
Digital cameras allow you to click away until you get the image you want. If you know how to use the digital camera, then loading the photographs into your computer is probably easy for you, as well. The final step, creating a photo book, using the best of your best photographs, rather than oodles of ordinary ones, is a simple effort for anyone.
Therein lies the reason for photo books' rising popularity. The books, created from your skill, your eye for composition and your flair for storytelling, provide a way for you, and others, to truly enjoy the event you have experienced. And with the help of photo book companies, you can do it without too great an effort nor too great an expense.
Photo books are a perfect memento for a wealth of occasions, especially since you can determine exactly how many photo book copies you need for yourself and to share.
It goes without saying, the bride and groom will treasure their wedding photo album, but the parents of the couple, would no doubt enjoy a photo book of the event, perhaps with more candid, family shots included than would be in the formal arrangements. A photo book of Mom and Dad's Fiftieth Wedding Anniversary party, with Grandma and Grandad taking a turn on the dance floor, would probably be a best seller if it were available to the whole clan, and with a photo book, it can be.
Photo book services allow a digital photographer to easily manipulate, crop and resize images. They also provide easy access to a wide range of other variables, from backgrounds to photo placement and fonts for captions.
Photo book cover options include spiral bound, soft covers, hard backs, leather bound and dust jackets. Photo books can be created in several different sizes, from 4x6 inches to portfolio sized perfect for display on the coffee table. Choices include photo books which either have page curl and those with lay flat features.
The result is a totally customizable photo book of personal memories.
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