Those who know me know that I am ALWAYS taking pictures, and those of you know me better also know that I love to turn those photos into beautiful photobooks. I started this in college, after returning from 4 months in Africa. I wanted to share my images with friends and family without lugging around a computer. There is something special about turning pages of a book…I feel like it makes the images feel more like a story, which is actually what they are.
I started by reading tons of online reviews, and settled on Blurb.com for my first books. They seemed to be higher quality and I really liked the software that they provided. The print quality was nice too, though I would have liked the option for lay flat pages. Oh well, for the past 6 or so books, I have used Blurb and been quite happy. Their software is downloaded on your computer so you do not need an internet connection to work…and you get to work with photos stored on your hard drive. Pages are very customizable, and there are TONS of standard layout templates. Bonus: your custom templates can be saved and reused. Downside: not many discount codes or sales, so they can be pricy. Also they can have far more pages (probably becuase they are not lay flat) and since my annual books are over the 76 page limit of AdoramaPix, Blurb is still a go-to.
My mom has made some books on Snapfish and some other publishers that have sent free book coupons. They were ok. Very standard.
I was ready to start my next Blurb book, but…there could always be something better right? So I decided to try out MyPublisher.com. I had a discount code and immediately liked the options they offer (lay flat pages, different cover finishes etc), but was very unimpressed with their software. It is hard to use and frustrating to customize. You cannot specify the size or dimensions of an image box. At least they give you grid lines to follow. I found it frustrating to use, but yes, it did work.
A few months ago I ordered my first book from MyPublisher. I was so excited to compare my old Blurb books to this newcomer, and see how the quality compares. I loved that they offered lay-flat pages, and had an ok software package for customizing layouts. Final result: I was happy with the book but they did not feel as high of quality even if the images were better than Blurb.
Fast forward a few months and I am working on another book…this time: AdoramaPix. This company has been on my mind for a long time now, but their initially higher cost was a turn off. I started working on a book after being drawn in to their steal of a deal on a 12 page book. I started designing on their online software and found it pretty easy to use, but limited in pre-made templates that I liked. I also did not like how clumsy it was to replicate spreads once I did customize them! Also, you work online with this software, which means you have to upload photos to the website to work with them. Be prepared to invest some time with this.
Adorama books are standard thicker photo quality paper with lay-flat pages, so I was really excited to see how the final product turned out. Result: I was BLOWN AWAY! The quality of the binding, printing, cover and images were all FAR superior to the previous books I have made. This is really a professional quality book, while the others are great, this one just really takes the cake. They are more expensive, but I was patient and waited around for a 30% off code. Well worth the wait! UPDATE: my most recent book I ordered for 60% off! Splurged and got the real leather cover too!
And the winners are:
Overall Quality: AdoramaPix, super high book quality, fast printing, excellent option for a special album (wedding, gift etc). Maxes out at 76 pages so not suitable for large volume books (like my annual yearbooks). (BONUS! if you create your book and wait around for a sale, I have seen deals for 20%-60% off!)
Price: Blurb is by far the more economical but still high end option. For a standard page set (14 or 20 pages) prices about tie, but as you increase pages, Adoramapix prices go up really FAST! Since many of my annual books are 100+ pages, I will probably be sticking with Blurb for those.
Software usability and customizability: Blurb …though Adorama pix is getting better with the recent update. Maybe I just have not found it, but the Adorama software does not let you save custom spreads as templates so you just have to copy/paste.
Image Qualtiy: AdoramaPix
Cover Quality: AdoramaPix
I am exited to make another book! Honeymoon book is in the works 🙂
UPDATE from 2017: I have fully transitioned to using Zno.com for all my photobook publishing. Their quality is great and the software (online format) is easy to use. I have also decided from a personal preference that I like smaller more simple books as my collection grows. I now make 6×6 simple books from Zno that I love. Best of luck in your creativity!