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|
|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.)
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:
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.
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.
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.
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):
||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.
$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!