UPDATE 11/18/11: As of this date, HotPrints has ceased operations, so it was removed from the database. The last day to order a HotBook is November 18, 2011. The company is encouraging folks to instead check out Picaboo. Picaboo is offering new users 50% off their first order (any quantity).
Coupon Code: HOTFIFTY
UPDATE: HotPrints has changed the structure of its free book offer a few times. As of June 1, 2010, you can get up to four HotBooks per month, with a cost of $2.99/per book shipping & handling worldwide. Previously HotPrints users in the UK, Canada and the U.S. could get 1 HotBook per month completely free (no S&H). So, while you can get more free books, you will have to pay for shipping.
Yes, you read it right. I had to double-check myself to be sure, but it appears to be true that HotPrints, a UK based company is now offering one free 8×10, 16-page photo book per month and it’s completely free including shipping to the US, UK and Canada! It’s called HotBook and you can create one through your current Facebook, Netlog or Bebo account. You can also go to their site, www.hotprints.com and sign up for a free account.
HotBook software resides online and you upload your photos to the program to work with them. You can save and go back later to continue editing the book until you’re done.
You may be wondering why a company would offer a free photo book. The book is ad supported, so it comes with a four-page removable ad insert. Nothing is added to or done to your photo book layout, it’s just an advertising circular that’s slipped into the book. The rear cover also doubles as the shipping label so it may not look “pretty” and I may not think of giving it as a gift, but I’m willing to give it a shot. The book is available without the insert for $3.99 plus $2.99 shipping, but for a free photo book, I don’t mind removing the insert and throwing it in the recycling bin if the ads don’t interest me.
Software & User Interface
Given that this is primarily a free service, don’t expect to have a lot of customization. I was however impressed that there was a layout allowing you to put a larger photo in the background and smaller photos on top of it (a feature that many paid printing companies don’t have) and there is a full bleed option as well. But customization is limited to placement into their provided templates, backgrounds and borders. Captions are allowed with a few fonts. I found that when editing the book, the book appears pretty small relative to the screen but that may have been done to insure that most browsers and screens would be able to view all the content without scrolling. The preview function enlarges it a bit, so be sure as always to check the final product before placing your order.
The website says it takes about 5 business days to print and prepare the book to go out, then another 5 to 30 business days to receive your book depending on your country’s local mail service. I designed a book and ordered today, so we’ll see how long it takes to arrive. Check back for a review of the end product!