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 with the new program, you can get more free books, you will have to pay for shipping.
Don’t you love getting something in the mail, that’s not a bill or junk mail? I just received my first HotBook. As first mentioned in my post from March 16, 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. I placed the order on March 16th and it came in the mail yesterday, so it took 14 days or 10 business days from order to receipt. The site and the confirmation email said it could take anywhere from 5 to 30 business days, so 10 business days is not bad at all. I suppose it depends on where you live – I’m across the “big pond” in Chicago, Illinois.
The cover was just text and I chose a sky theme with fluffy clouds and small palm trees from the choices available on the site. Since it arrived in a clear plastic sleeve, I didn’t mind that I couldn’t personalize the cover – it’s not like I want the postman to see a big photo of me on the cover.
As disclosed on the site, the back cover of the book acts as the shipping label as well. I blacked out the label by the way…
And here’s the four-page ad insert…
The paper used for the softcover and the interior pages are the same and I was actually surprised at the quality of the paper. The paper was thick and substantial and felt like it had an almost waterproof-like coating on it (though I wouldn’t want to test my theory). I decided to pull out the books I’d ordered from printers such as Snapfish, Blurb, MyPublisher and Mpix for comparison, and HotPrints had thicker paper than all but perhaps the Mpix pearl paper. HotPrints and Mpix had a similar weight paper even though the paper types are quite different (Mpix’s has a sheen). Given however that the pearl paper was an upgrade from Mpix’s standard paper, just because this book is free, doesn’t mean HotPrints skimped on the paper, which is a nice bonus.
Here are some spreads from the book.
Regardless, it’s extremely hard to look at the stats given by each printer and be able to say definitively that one company’s 100lb paper is equal to another company’s 100 lb paper. In this case I’m just going by feel and I’d say that HotPrints is using a very high quality paper. It’s not as glossy as MyPublisher paper (I’m using a “Classic” MyPublisher book as comparison) but more along the matte sheen of a premium paper Blurb book.
I used a grey background on a couple pages and black on the rest. The black backgrounds printed very evenly and a deep dark black as it should be. There was very little bleed through from page to page which is probably due to the substantial weight of the paper.
As for print quality, I’d say it printed a little darker and a bit duller than my originals but pretty good overall. One thing I’d watch is the captioning. My caption got cut off here (oops!) so next time I’d keep it in mind to not run the caption so close to the edge. It wasn’t cut off when viewed in the preview.
Binding of course is not comparable to other softcover books I’ve ordered – as this one is stapled, but it does allow you pull out the four-page ad that makes the book free. Also, it looks like the folding got a bit off track, but not a huge issue for a free book.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the results. The paper quality is very nice and printing of good quality. While I wouldn’t make one for someone as a gift, it’s a great option for making something fun and easy. It would be nice to have a smaller size option – so that you could easily throw it in your purse, but it’s FREE folks – so why not try it?
It’s almost April and time to plan the theme of my next free HotBook!
For my review on the software and the process of putting the book together, see my post from March 16th.
Start on your first free HotBook at HotPrints.com and tell me what you think!