I’ve been planning this group cookbook project for some time now with my friends. You may have seen the first post I did on this project back in November when I was putting together the framework, and finally the book is in my hands!
First off, here’s the stats for my Mixbook photo book:
|Book size:||11 x 8.5 (width x height)|
|Cover:||Hardcover – Glossy Laminate Custom Photo|
|Price:||$56.99 + $12.99 (2nd Day air)Total: $69.98 less $50.00 GrouponActual Out-of-Pocket after all discounts = $19.98 + $15.00 for Groupon
Final Cost: $34.98
|Ordered/Shipped/Delivered:||Dec 30 / Jan 5 / Jan 7|
DEAL ALERT! By the way, as of the date of this post, the 70% Mixbook Groupon is available
through Sunday (today!) by 11:59pm EST. You can make a cookbook just like mine with ground shipping for less than $30.00! (Friends and recipes not included! LOL) You have one year to use this Mixbook Groupon, so no worries – you have lots of time.
Mixbook Software Review
Mixbook’s software works online, so there’s nothing to download. Having the software online has some advantages – you can work on your book no matter where you are on any computer and if you’re working on a project with friends or family, they are able to access the same project from the comforts of home. Note that only one person can be editing the book at any given time. If someone is currently working on the book, you can view the most recent saved version, but will have to wait until that person closes the software to actually make an edits or contributions, so it may take some coordination.
Because this was a collaborative project, I was able to get feedback from my friends who signed up to work on the book. Some friends told me that they found the software slow and very laggy – preventing some from being able to add their recipes. Other friends said using the software was easy and they had no issues. For the most part I had no problems working on the book, but there were a few occasions where the software would lag and I would be dragging or moving a box or photo and it would move where I hadn’t intended. This is where the “Undo” button became my best friend. I don’t know if the lag had to do with how many people were on Mixbook’s servers at any given time, but my AT&T DSL is reliable and upgraded, so I assume it wasn’t on my end.
With some friends, it was impossible to cajole them to sign up to work on the book, and some said they don’t cook, so I ended up asking them to e-mail me their responses and photos, which worked fine. In addition to this being a cookbook, it was a yearbook of photos from the past year. We had lots of photos and a section called “Meet the Chefs” where we asked everyone a short list of food related questions like “What’s your favorite food related childhood memory?” or “What would you last meal be?” That way those who don’t cook could still be a part of the book, since it was also meant to be a 2010 yearbook as well.
If you are planning to do a joint project, I suggest that one person take the lead and create the templates and basic layouts. That way it’s easier to get participation and it adds some cohesiveness to the design. If you’re working with a group of folks who have done photo books before, it may not be necessary. Note that once you get a few templates that you like, you can easily duplicate the spread, change the background and you instantly have another spread created without much effort.
If you’re interested in the other basic software stats – here it is in a nutshell…
Did you know that we have these Quick Specs for every company in our database? (Click on the link to find each basic company review by clicking on the company logo. You’ll also find links to my reviews and coupons for each company on that page.)
Mixbook Is Great for Digital Scrapbook Enthusiasts
As I’ve mentioned before, the standout feature of Mixbook’s software are their embellishments and clip art. I’m not a huge fan of clip art generally, but this clip art was actually “non-cheesy”. Mixbook would appeal especially to traditional scrapbookers who have made the transition to digital scrapbooking as it has the most scrapbook-look in my opinion out of all of the photo book companies I’ve tried. Everything that you see on these pages other than our personal photos are free to use within the Mixbook program.
There were several fonts I liked. I used “Lilly”, “Domestic Manner”, “Windsong” and “Adler”. For this sized book, the font size for most of the text body (versus headings) was done in Lilly in 9 pt. font. (It can be hard to gauge font-size but the best thing is if your screen is large enough to get a preview close to the final size – that is usually the best way to tell if your text is readable.) I normally only use one or two fonts for my photo book projects, but this was meant to be a fun scrapbook type project – the various fonts give it more character.
Mixbook Photo Book Quality Review
Print Quality and Book Construction
The book comes in a plastic sleeve and packaged in a compact cardboard box. My book shipped from San Jose, CA via upgraded UPS 2nd Day Air. It was $12.99 to ship my book, but you could get basic shipping for $6.99. I was happy to see there were no dinged corners (a common problem with many companies). The custom cover is very glossy and I found it very similar to the covers printed by Shutterfly, Snapfish and Picaboo. (Clicking on the links will take you to my reviews of those companies.)
The book was constructed neatly and I liked that you could title the spine. (You can also title the spine with Snapfish and Shutterfly, but not Picaboo (however see my workaround for titling Picaboo books). There is a plain white piece of paper inside front and back of the book which gives it more finish.
The paper is 100 lb. archival silk, semi-gloss and is of good weight. In comparison to Picaboo, the paper feels very similar in weight, but Mixbook’s seems slightly stiffer. Snapfish’s paper is very similar as well. Shutterfly’s paper feels the thickest out of all four companies. They all use 100 lb. paper according to their specs, but the numbers don’t mean the paper feels the same, since they don’t use the same paper stock.
Overall the print quality was very good. My photos reproduced well and as always, the brighter the original, the better the result. I saw no issues with bleedthrough as the paper had good opacity. There was no banding or streaking. This is the first time I’ve done a book with more text than photos and I found the text crisp, clear and easy to read – essential for a cookbook! Interestingly the text is raised, meaning you can feel the text when you run your fingers across the page. For the most part, the preview matched the print results, except that I was bothered by the misprint of some of the pages where I used ribbon embellishments to run across the entire page. I had made sure to extend the ribbons past the edge of the page to allow for some cushion, and in the preview there was no indication of an issue, but when the book printed, there were several pages where the ribbons didn’t extend the full length of the page – leaving an odd gap. I’m debating whether to contact customer service about it, but it does bother me when the preview doesn’t match the result.
UPDATE: I did decide to contact Mixbook via e-mailing customer service. They asked me to send them a couple photos of the issue. They explained that the alignment was off by 1/16 inch when they bound the book and offered to readily reprint the two copies I had printed. They sent the books to me via 2-day air and they came out just as they looked in the preview. All’s well that ends well!
Here’s the preview, followed by a photo of the final book:
After I received the book, I made a duplicate copy and added even more length to the decorative trim on all the affected pages (there were about 7 pages where that happened) so that when my friends order, that problem should hopefully be eliminated. Make sure to extend your embellishments a good ways off the page (about 1/2 inch to be safe) so that the same doesn’t happen when you get your printed book.
If you haven’t used my handy dandy Photo Book Wizard, check out these results below. This list is sorted from cheapest to most expensive.
The inputs into the Wizard were: Hardcover, Landscape, Medium. I then eliminated the ones that were not similar to my Mixbook project and I could even input the exact number of pages to get an accurate price comparison. Below is just a screenshot of the results, but if you try the Wizard tool, you can sort by any of the columns and eliminate the ones that don’t apply, to get a good overview of your options.
As you can see Mixbook is in the middle of the pack in terms of cost. What differentiates Mixbook from similarly priced books, would be customization (fully customizable layouts), lots of cool embellishments and the ability to collaboratively work on a project with a group. The collaborative nature of Mixbook was the main factor in choosing the company for this cookbook project.
Obviously when we look at cost, the Groupon makes a huge difference, just as it does with Picaboo and Photobook America. For $15.00, you get $50.00 worth of credit – that’s 70% off!
In all, I am pleased with the software and the book, but I’ll probably contact customer service about the pages that didn’t print properly. I’ll let you know what happens. (See UPDATE above in green.) Overall, I like the flexibility of designing my own layouts and surprisingly I love the clip art. It reminds me a lot of the traditional scrapbooking that I used to do, but so much more efficient and cheaper! Be sure to use the shadow tool to give your photos and other elements dimension. It makes a difference in the final result. There’s lots of pre-made layouts and templates to choose from if you want to make a quick and easy drag and drop book – in fact I looked through a lot of the templates to get inspiration for this book. In particular, Mixbook is unique among photo companies in its focus on collaboration.
Other than a group cookbook, it would be great for:
- Group fundraisers
- Club or sports team yearbook
- Family reunion book
- A fun project for bridesmaids (suggested by a Photobookgirl reader)
If you’re ready to get started on your Mixbook photo book or you want to check out other fun book examples, click here to go to Mixbook!