© 2010 photobookgirl

MyPublisher Deluxe Photo Book Review – Make Your Own Custom Pages for your Photo Book

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There’s so many things I intend to accomplish with this post, but before I get too far ahead of myself, let’s get the stats:

Book size: 15 x 11.5 (width x height)
Cover: Deluxe Hardcover – Black Leather
Pages: 99 (double-sided), 182 lb. cover stock
Binding: Case bound
Price: $246.96 (complimentary shipping)Total: $246.96
Ordered/Shipped/Received: Aug 13 / Aug 17 / Aug 19

You may laugh when I tell you that this photo book is only the first book in a two volume series on my honeymoon.  It was one way to get around the 100-page limit.  (I couldn’t squeeze all my photos into one book!)  But, I guess you’d expect nothing less from PhotoBookGirl right? Although this is a two-volume series, I’ve already done two other books on my honeymoon.  Check out this post, if you’re interested in seeing my earlier photo book on the Great Barrier Reef (an Aperture 3/iPhoto Review).  It’s such an amazing place, the gorgeous underwater landscapes deserved their own book!  I also did a beautiful honeymoon highlight book with Picaboo (check out my Picaboo Madison review).

My husband and I enjoyed a whirlwind two-week vacation in Australia and New Zealand. Many folks told us that it wasn’t possible to cover such a vast place in such a short period of time, and we did have to make some compromises, but we picked the top cities of interest to us and it was definitely a we had a great time (even though I got sick with a bad cold by city #3!)

At the time I made this book, MyPublisher did not offer customizable layouts or lay flat pages.  Currently the options are available for PC users but not for Mac users, so I don’t know when I’ll get around to trying out those new features.  Hopefully they won’t forget about the Mac users and get their software up to date soon!  (UPDATE: Mac users now have the ability to customize layouts too!) Check out this post for my review of MyPublisher’s software.

Although I think MyPublisher has some of the best print quality out there, the company’s fixed templates became too inflexible for me over time.  I have done several books with MyPublisher, and over time, I wanted to be able to get more creative with the page layouts. I created these layouts with QuarkXPress – a design program which allows you to create custom layouts.  Adobe InDesign is also a popular option for custom layouts.  Both programs can be pretty pricey though, but if you want to be able to print your books with any company out there, having external design software gives you the most flexibility.

However, it would be pretty time consuming for me to create 100 pages in an outside program and then convert them to jpegs wouldn’t it?  The key is to create some custom layouts to enhance your photo book – therefore I made two main types of custom pages in my outside design program:

1) Chapter Pages – these are custom two-page layouts I created to start off each city or major place we visited;

2) Custom Photo Book Layouts – these pages that I could sprinkle in between the standard templates already provided by MyPublisher

I’m a big fan of repurposing things I’ve already used for another project.  For the first page of the book, I used a design I made of our custom wedding thank you cards.  This is actually the inside of our thank you card – a map of our honeymoon with photos highlighting each place we visited.  It made a perfect start to the book as it gave an overview of our entire trip. (You may also recall me scanning our wedding invitation to include in our wedding photo books. Same idea.)

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MyPublisher’s books feature a vellum overlay at the front and back.

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The other side of the thank you card featured photos from our wedding and a space to write a personal message to the recipient – when I get a chance I’ll post more photos of the card if you’re interested.

Here are some of the chapter pages:

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Notice that the different chapter pages are variations on the main theme I created.  You want to have variety, but you want your book to have a cohesiveness too.  You don’t have to create 100 different page layouts to make a custom looking 100-page book.  Just create a few chapter pages like mine for a custom look without a major time investment.  What’s great is that I can reuse them as is or change them up a bit for future books.

Below are a few custom templates I did for the interior pages.  You’ll also see that I used them more than once, interspersed throughout the book.

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You can take a single photo and use the photo boxes to break up the photos for a different effect.

Here are two other types of custom pages, more scrapbook in style.  I often save ticket stubs, airline tickets, menus, maps, brochures, and receipts to scan for a personalized touch.

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MyPublisher Deluxe Hardcover Review

As some of you may know, MyPublisher was the first company I used to make a photo book about 5 years back.  Even after trying many other photo companies, I’d have to say, that MyPublisher remains one of my favorites.  Their print quality is crisp and colors come closest to duplicating what I see on my screen. I have had some consistency issues in printing with MyPublisher (in the past, I’ve had some random photos print with a red overcast, crushed pages etc.) all of which are totally unacceptable, but MyPublisher’s customer service is normally pretty easy to contact (either through chat, email or phone) and has been prompt to give full credit to print another book when printing issues have occurred.  For me, calling on the phone has been the most effective and most prompt way to get an immediate response.

MyPublisher’s Deluxe book features the thickest and highest quality photo paper for this size book that I’ve found, which is all the more important when you’re dealing with a book of this massive.  The paper is 182 lb. cover weight paper which is thicker than text weight paper.  The smaller MyPublisher Classic is printed on 115 lb. cover weight paper – a really good weight paper in itself.

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The smaller Classic size as compared to the Deluxe size. It may not look like a huge difference but it really is.

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MyPublisher’s Deluxe leather books have a small debossed logo on the rear cover. Pretty subtle, but still there, so if that matters to you, note that it is not logo-free.

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The leather version of the Deluxe book comes with a felt-like cloth protective pouch.

MyPublisher’s Software

The main reason why MyPublisher doesn’t get top marks, is their software isn’t as flexible as other companies such as Photobook America or Blurb.  I wouldn’t need to use an outside design program to do these chapter pages in Photobook America or AdoramaPix for example.  I can’t recall offhand whether Blurb has a rounded corner option.  As I mentioned, I haven’t had the chance to use MyPublisher’s new software that allows for customizable layouts, but I’ve heard from a reader that it’s not as flexible as other companies that have customizable layouts. I’ll try to get on checking it out and I’ll update this review as soon as I do.  I intend to try Photobook America’s new lustre paper option soon, as that seems to potentially be the most similar to MyPublisher’s paper.  I think MyPublisher’s printing looks brighter and crisper than Photobook America’s but I wonder how much of that was affected by my decision to order Photobook America’s matte paper.  So much research to do!

Volume 2 of my two-volume honeymoon series is in the works.  I learned from this volume 1 that it’s probably not a good idea to take a single photo and stretch it across both pages of this book.  Reason is, this book is HUGE.

While it works well for a typical book size of 11 inches across which results in a 22 inch spread, 30 inches is really pushing the resolution of your photos.  These photos were shot with my 9 megapixel Panasonic Lumix point and shoot.  If you read my post on the best resolution for your photos for printing, I went over the acceptable pixel dimensions that would typically generate good results.  According to the numbers for my cameras (find the one most similar to yours):

Camera/Megapixels
Pixel Dimensions Max. Recommended Print Size (300 dpi)
Acceptable Print Size (225 dpi)
Sony 5.1MP 2592 x 1944 8.6 x 6.5 11.5 x 8.6
Panasonic Lumix 9.1MP 3456 x 2592 11.5 x 8.6 15.3 x 11.5
Canon (used in AdoramaPix wedding book) 3861 x 2574 12.9 x 8.6 17.2 x 11.4
Nikon D90 12.3MP 4288 x 2848 14.3 x 9.5 19.1 x 12.7

So you can see that even if I were to push it a bit, the largest recommended width is 15.3 inches. By trying to make it work on a two-page spread of double that width, I was really pushing my luck.  The pages where I did that came out pretty grainy.  For volume two, I won’t do a two-page spread using the photos from this camera – the pixel dimensions just aren’t high enough to get a good clear output.

Here’s a photo of a two-page spread that did work.  The reason why it worked here is because I took the two halves of the photo were taken as two separate photos.  When placed together, they form a single panorama.  It was very unscientifically done just by shifting my camera and taking two photos.  Then I placed each half on it’s appropriate side in the layout. I had to use the built-in zoom tool within the MyPublisher program to get the photos to line up.  (Some cameras also have an auto-stitching function which assists you in matching the panorama photos as you take them – check your camera manual.)  Because of the angle that I took this shot and the gutter, it doesn’t look like it lined up, but it actually lined up very well.

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Cost

$250.00 is a good chunk of change for a photo book, but I would definitely suggest waiting for a promo.  MyPublisher frequently runs deals. Just a couple days ago there was a 50% off deal that would make this book super affordable for the size and quality.  Make sure to check my Coupons & Deals page often so you don’t miss the latest deal!  (Better yet Fan my Facebook page or subscribe to my newsletter (look for the light blue box at top right).

Would love to hear your opinion on MyPublisher – post a comment below!

If you haven’t tried them yet, check out the free photo book deal for new users below!

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36 Comments

  1. beth
    Posted February 2, 2011 at 1:24 pm | #

    Here’s a coupon code that i just received via email from My publisher… 35. for a standard book and 70. for a deluxe book with unlimited pages. The code is LOVEIT and its good until Feb 8, 2011. Here’s another hint, if you have a coupon code that is about to expire, you can call them and ask for a “grace period” to get your book finished… I had to do this the other day. I had my book almost finished and the 60% off coupon was about to expire. They gave me another code that would continue the discount and I was able to finish that book and whip out another one before the expiration.

    • Nup Shah
      Posted February 10, 2011 at 4:45 pm | #

      Beth, I just made my son’s 100 page deluxe photo book using the $70 coupon. There is no way any company out there can beat this price, especially considering how good their quality is…according to photobookgirl. Hopefully I won’t have the color or crushed pages.

      Anyways I have to thank photobookgirl for her in depth reviews. Keep it up!!!

  2. Elisa
    Posted March 22, 2011 at 6:47 pm | #

    Hi,

    have you tried using MyPublisher’s Super Glossing Printing? what is that like?

    And I want to thank you for your reviews, they are wonderful!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted March 22, 2011 at 8:54 pm | #

      Thanks Elisa! I think I spend too much time doing them! haha… I haven’t tried it yet – though I am working on part 2 of my honeymoon book (finally) and I may try the glossy to see what it’s all about. I do like their normal paper though, so I’m a bit torn – I’m not a huge fan of high gloss, but they make it sound so attractive with all the superlatives, it makes you curious doesn’t it? :)

      • Elisa
        Posted March 22, 2011 at 9:22 pm | #

        Same here! I’m a bit torn between the two! :) I have a feeling I’ll go with the matte, it seems more subtle. I also have another question, do you prefer MP deluxe or classic size for a wedding album? Would it be too much/overwhelming with the deluxe?

        • photobookgirl
          Posted March 22, 2011 at 11:48 pm | #

          The Deluxe is really nice, but it is pretty heavy – it is impressive though and the paper is a thicker, more substantial feeling paper than the classic size. If you can afford it or if this is your main wedding book, I’d go deluxe. As you can see I did my honeymoon book in Deluxe. Remember, since the pages are so big in the Deluxe, if you want you can fit more photos per page (and the photos won’t look small) so you don’t have to add as many pages. Also, matte isn’t that matte – it still has a sheen to it. It’s just not glossy.

    • Posted April 9, 2011 at 11:14 am | #

      Hi Elisa,
      I just got a 100 page glossy paper book from MyPub and it absolutely blew me away! I’ve made at least 15 books with them and I wish they had had this service before. The colors are spectacular. The pages do show fingerprints though. I’m a very, very pleased with the results. Hope this helps.
      Best,
      Chris

  3. Posted April 30, 2011 at 6:02 am | #

    I just ordered 4 pocket-books from MyPublisher based on your recommendations; I’m guessing the quality will be very good.

    I’ve spent hours on your blog – thanks for all of the great info! I would like to see more content for advanced users on using programs like InDesign to create the books and the support the different publishers have. For example, Blurb and Winkflash support PDF uploads so you just have to upload one file. MyPublisher required me to export every page of my book as a JPG, then select the full-page spread for each page and assign the correct image to it. Their customer support wasn’t too impressive either – one person told me he’d never heard of InDesign before! It also took some probing to get quite vague answers about crop lines and exact size specs.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted April 30, 2011 at 12:09 pm | #

      I haven’t tried the pocket books personally, so it would be great to hear from you about how they turn out. I’m glad you like my blog – thanks for your comments! A post is in the works on PDF upload and on selling/marketing your book online which are aimed at more advanced users. I have a friend who is trying that whole service out. I don’t know if he’s using InDesign or just Photoshop to do the layouts. I haven’t used InDesign to make my photo books – but have used Quark as I mention. By the way, Viovio is another company in the database that allows for PDF upload… Happy photo book making!

  4. Robby
    Posted May 6, 2011 at 7:03 pm | #

    Hi – really interesting post, thanks for this. I’m going to do a large book like you in Indesign and export the jpgs into MP. It’ll be a wedding album for a couple. I just love the creativity you can use for the spreads in ID. Your book looks really brilliant, congratulations! Could I ask what page settings you used in ID?
    Thanks, Robby.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted May 6, 2011 at 7:52 pm | #

      Hi Robby, sorry, I did these in QuarkXPress, not InDesign, but here are some tips that probably can apply to either program:
      1) I added a .5 inch buffer (so document size was 30.5 x 11.5 because I did the whole spread as one layout) (book size is 15 x 11.5);
      2) I didn’t put anything important in the center or the edges to allow for cushion;
      2) After finishing the design I saved it as a PDF (I have a old version of Quark so maybe a newer version can go straight to jpeg);
      3) I opened the PDF in Adobe Photoshop and saved it as a jpeg;
      4) I cropped each side of the spread and overlapped the at the center a bit to allow for loss of image in the gutter, by about .25 inch;
      5) I labeled them left side and right side in the title so I could easily locate it when I uploaded into MyPublisher.
      Sounds like a lot of work, but once you get into the workflow, it’s not bad. Plus I have the templates saved so I can use them anytime I want!
      Hope that helps!

      • Robby
        Posted May 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm | #

        Thanks for the reply, those instructions are going to help a lot – really appreciate it.
        ID can save each page right out to jpg which is a timesaver. Another cool feature is it can caption each image with its filename. So before I layout the images in MP I can send a pdf of the album to the couple and if they require changes there’s no mix up in identifying images. It sounds simple enough, I just hope it all goes to plan!
        Once again, thanks very much.
        Kind regards, Robby.

        • photobookgirl
          Posted May 7, 2011 at 6:38 pm | #

          Sounds good. b/t/w you can pay to remove the MyPublisher logo from the book and then add your own. I think that is a relatively newer option that some pros didn’t like about the company before.

  5. Robby
    Posted May 8, 2011 at 6:04 pm | #

    Hi – Thanks for the info but I don’t think you can pay to not have the embossed MP on the back of the leather album. I wish you could! Maybe you can pay to have the internal MP logo removed off the back page but the embossed leather MP logo looks like it stays!

    Thanks pbg, I do appreciate your help and interest.
    Kind regards, Robby.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted May 8, 2011 at 6:05 pm | #

      Yes, you’re right – I should have made that distinction :)

  6. Kelly O. Brengelman
    Posted July 8, 2011 at 12:11 pm | #

    I’m in the process of making a deluxe book with MyPublisher of my 20th anniversary cruise. I loved tue map idea of the places you went to on your honeymoon, so I totally used that idea! On the map, I opened it up in photoshop and added a trail of what order and what route the ship took. Can’t wait to see how it all prints out. Many thanks for all the great reviews!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted July 8, 2011 at 7:25 pm | #

      I’m glad you liked the map idea and tried it! We used that same map on our wedding thank you cards too so it did double duty. :)

  7. Roderic H Blackburn
    Posted September 30, 2011 at 12:49 pm | #

    PBG,
    While I am into exploring your website to make a decision on a couple book projects, I keep coming up with ideas which may appeal to you.

    1. As I had mentioned in a prior email, your wizard technique is really appealing: a series of questions/criteria. In your case ending up with cost for size of book and some chosen features. You could make this a more robust series of criteria ending up with best companies for several features.

    2. You could extend your reviews to also doing ratings of features for each company, such as rating each on quality issues: print quality, paper, binding, cover, service, etc. I like the A,B,C,D,E type school rating as most people are familiar with it: A (excellent, top quality), B (good to very good – so B+, B B- maybe), C (passable, adequate for certain types of books), D not acceptable, poor. E (optional: terrible). Might even get your followers to do their rating of companies based on their own experience. I prefer you did it as you bring much wider and more objective experience. This system makes it easier for a person to compare companies on features which are important to their book project.
    For example, I need to make a decision on a 200 page book full of images but also a lot of text (a tribal ethnography (I am an anthropologist) with lots of eye appeal. Obviously too expensive to be commercially viable but fine for me and some colleagues). So I narrow down to those companies who will handle this size, then look for “A” quality image printing, which paper, which cover, etc. Starting with a columned chart of company features would be appealing, then read reviews for the most likely.

    3. From the pages I have seen, you are a first class book designer (and photographer). Your pages are just so creatively lovely. Maybe I missed this section in your website, but a tutorial on design would be great.

    Sorry to burden you with ideas but I am excited with working in a new art form. Best wishes, Rod

    • photobookgirl
      Posted September 30, 2011 at 3:01 pm | #

      Hi Rod, thanks for taking the time to comment! #1) Yes, we are able to add criteria and narrow down even more and we have added features over time. Oh, if I could have unlimited time to work on this site I would love it! Maybe I’ll get there at some point :) b/t/w Have you used the software wizard yet? It has slightly different criteria. Once the data is in, the ways to utilize are numerous – it’s just a matter of telling it how to sort which we are constantly working on improving. Then, there’s the issue of keeping it up to date – price changes, product changes, deletions, additions – we try to do our best… I have to circle back to the companies to check from time to time…
      #2 A way for users to rate as well as my own rating system is on my list as well. Until then we have comment capability at the bottom of each reviews page (accessible from the main reviews page of each company – http://www.photobookgirl.com/reviews
      #3 Thanks for the compliment! The closest thing I would have for a design tutorial are posts #7 and #8 in this “how to” series. I also usually tag those posts under “photo book tips” or “photo tips” so you may try clicking on that tag and you’ll see all the related posts pop up.
      Thanks for reading and I hope you stick around!

  8. Sharon
    Posted February 7, 2012 at 5:12 pm | #

    I have made 31 photo books with MyPublisher in the past 3-4 years. I am very happy with the quality of the books. I sometimes use their templates if I am in a hurry to make one of their sales. When you are paying well over $100 for a book, 40-50% off is big, especially with how many I make. I started with Kodak but I like the quality of MyPublisher much better and I can get 100 pages with MyPublisher. I make and use my own photo templates in Photoshop Elements most of the time because I find their templates very limiting.

  9. Bill
    Posted February 12, 2012 at 9:39 am | #

    I enjoy your reviews and suggestions. I have done more than 20 books using MyPublisher – so obviously I am a happy customer. However I have one issue and that is with the zoom tool. When I click to zoom in or out the steps are irradic and sometimes huge (unlike the advertised one percent change – or 5% when holding the shift key down).
    If I use the slider, I find it hard to fine tune the amout of zoom. Is this problem unique to me and my computer. No one else seems to mention it as a issue. I have a fairly new computer running Windows 7 64 bits. Thanks for any thoughts.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted February 12, 2012 at 9:17 pm | #

      Hi Bill, I use a Mac, so I don’t know if the Mac software reacts the same as what you’re seeing when you use the Windows version. I do know the Mac version lags behind the PC version. You definitely have a lot of experience with MyPublisher. Sliders can be tricky tools as a whole – I generally prefer when the software also gives you a option to enter your own numbers as I find them more precise.

  10. Sharon
    Posted February 14, 2012 at 2:44 pm | #

    Actually you can convert your psds (or tiffs) very fast in Adobe Bride by selecting all of your layouts, go to Tools, Photoshop, Image Processor, File Type, check Save as JPEG, Quality 12, Run and it will quickly convert all your layouts to JPEGs in one shot :)

    • photobookgirl
      Posted February 16, 2012 at 3:20 pm | #

      great tip! thanks!

  11. Nicole
    Posted February 28, 2012 at 10:16 pm | #

    I am doing my first photobook in MyPublisher, but am doing the templates in an outside program. Can anyone tell me if they’ve made the templates AND put the pictures in the templates in the outside program, THEN brought it all in as a jpeg? And if so, has the quality of the pictures when printed been good? Thank you!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 10:26 am | #

      Hi Nicole, that’s what I did in this post – I created the whole page from scratch outside in a separate program then uploaded the completed page as a full page bleed jpeg. So, what you see here should be what you’re referring to. Came out great. Can’t tell which pages were done in the program versus brought in from outside.

  12. Nicole
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 12:20 pm | #

    That’s a relief to hear! I did all the templates in an outside program, and saved them at the best dpi, etc…they look crisp and clear in my outside program, and they look great when viewed as a jpeg in something like Windows Photo Viewer. Once they’re brought into MyPublisher, however, they seem to look grainy compared to just bringing in photo using MyPublisher pre-made templates, but if you’ve had no issues, then hopefully mine will be ok??

    Also, I’ve hunted and hunted, but I can’t find a way to put mats around the pictures if I use MyPublisher’s tempates (aside from the themed ones of course). Is there a way to do that?

    Thank you, thank you!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted February 29, 2012 at 3:38 pm | #

      By mats do you mean frames or borders? I’m not too familiar with that particular option, but I’m also on a Mac, so if you’re on PC, the software is a little different. What dpi are you saving your layouts in? Are they at least 300 dpi?

    • Mel
      Posted December 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm | #

      Nicole – did you ever order yours, and did it turn out grainy like you said it was showing up on screen? I seem to be having the same problem where the jpegs I make in my outside program are clear except for once they’re brought into the MyPublisher software…

  13. Nicole
    Posted February 29, 2012 at 4:57 pm | #

    Yes, I do save at 300 dpi. And sorry, mat is the term in my outside software, but it’s the same as frames :)

  14. Alisa
    Posted May 2, 2012 at 7:16 pm | #

    Is MyPublisher’s deluxe paper (170 lbs now, guess it used to be 182 lbs) the thickest? Does anyone else have thicker paper? Thanks!

  15. Julie
    Posted July 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm | #

    I have done books with Winkflash, Mixbook, Shutterfly and Snapfish. I tried My Publisher for the first time with a Living Social deal. The book itself came out amazing. It is huge and the paper is much thicker then the others. I used the high gloss finish and each page feels like a regular photograph. With that said, I had problems both creating and uploading this book. Winkflash, which does not have the option to use a photo as the page background, is my favorite. Unlike My Publisher, they have very easy easy to use everything and super competent customer service. As stated, I had a voucher for this book. When I tried to use it I got an error message that a template space was blank. It was not, but the book would not upload. I removed it, but then the voucher wouldm’t work. Customer service was not helpful and took a very long time. They talked me through it and gave me a new voucher code, but it still wouldn’t take. On the third try I had a huge argument with them because they said I would have to wait for someone to call me back. I refused to hang up and demanded, very loudly, to speak to anyone else. In the end I had to remove the whole page because no one could figure out what the problem was.
    In the end I got a beautiful book, but I do not think I will deal with this company again. Too much work goes into these books to have to remove and/or redo because of their software glitches. I much prefer the ease of sites where you do the work online knowing that all the work is there if there are any computer issues.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted July 7, 2012 at 12:31 pm | #

      Hi Julie,

      Thanks for posting about your experience. I have encountered software issues with companies here and there myself as well – which I talk about in my reviews. Currently, I’m working on a series of reviews about using your own software to make layouts and then just uploading finished pages into blank full page spreads. That way I can use any printer I like. That may be an option if you like photo books and by the sound of it, you’ve made several. :)

  16. Mel
    Posted December 7, 2012 at 6:15 pm | #

    Love your layouts and suggestions to make the pages in an outside program! I have a question that might be a little too detailed but for your black background, did you use a flat black like C=0 M=0 Y=0 K=100? Or some rich black formula? It looks great, I just want to make sure I’m doing it right since I’ll be uploading a single jpeg to the MyPublisher software. And then you just saved the file as a 300dpi RGB jpeg? Thanks!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted December 8, 2012 at 10:44 am | #

      Yes, it was just a pure black – and I then saved as a 300dpi RGB jpeg. You’re right!

  17. rock
    Posted May 12, 2013 at 9:35 pm | #

    I’m working on my first photobook from a recent backpacking trip. Similar to yours with large pictures (not crowded with a lot of small ones). I have a lot of nice pictures and I find myself adding a lot of pages to the book. What is your thought on an ideal number of pages? While im doing my best to change up layouts, I still don’t want readers to start getting bored…

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