Several PhotoBookGirl readers have been asking me on my Facebook page and via my site about Photobook America aka Photobook Canada’s new photo lustre paper upgrade. I finally had a chance to review it through a complimentary book provided by the company, and I decided to make a coffee table photo book of various travel photos – a favorite subject for me.
Here’s the stats:
|Book size:||15 x 11 (width x height) Landscape|
|Binding:||Side Stitched with reinforced spine backing|
|Price:||$289.00 + $15.00 (photo lustre upgrade) + $41.00 (Overnight Shipping)
Total book cost = $304.00* / $345.00 with shipping
(*See below for how to get the best deal on this photo book.)
|Ordered/Shipped/Delivered||May 11 / May 13 / May 16 (was expedited for review purposes)|
Photobook America Software Review
Since I have reviewed the company’s software before, I won’t go in to extensive detail here. You can check out my Photobook America Software Review post here. In summary, it’s one of my favorite photo book design programs out there – as I’ve found it to be one of the most flexible software I’ve tried. You can fully customize your layouts within the program or you can tweak the fixed templates provided. You can use any font on your computer which is always a plus and creating a two-page spread and overlaying photos are very easy. The program is downloaded to your computer and you don’t need access to the Internet, until you’re ready to upload.
Photo Lustre Paper Review
The standard paper offered by the company is 170 gsm Premium Silk. There are three paper upgrades available:
- 216 gsm version of the Premium Silk paper (roughly 146 lbs.)
- 190 gsm Photo Lustre paper (roughly 116 lbs.)
- 170 gsm Matte Textured paper (roughly 104 lbs.)
Note, these gsm to pound conversions are not exact, but a rough estimate. What’s great is that the upgrades are reasonably priced and are charged at a flat rate regardless of pages: $10.00 for small and medium sized books and $15.00 for a large book.
I really like this paper, and even though it’s thinner than the 216 Premium Silk paper I’ve ordered before, the paper is of a very nice quality and the slight sheen really gives it a photographic look, more similar to a real photo print finish.
The company describes the paper as: “satin-matte PE-coated surface giving each page the look and feel of a genuine photo print. Features include brilliant colours, depth of contrast, low reflection, smudge repellent and outstanding image permanence.”
I do like matte finish prints, but I’ve found with some matte papers that the image loses some vibrance, but not here. I would agree with the company’s description of the Photo Lustre paper as “satin-matte”. It’s matte, but you do get a bit of pearlescent sheen that I’ve tried to capture for you in the photos of my book. (Note that I didn’t have time to do any color correction of these photos, due to time constraints so I’m probably not doing the book justice.) I found the colors vibrant and while there were some slight differences in the brightness of some images, overall I found it to be pretty consistent. I also compared it side-by-side to my Hawaii book printed in the 216 gsm Premium Silk and I did not see any difference in color or in print quality between the two papers.
Despite, not finding any significant difference in the print quality, the Photo Lustre paper definitely felt more luxe than the 216 gsm Premium Silk and out of the two of three paper upgrades that I’ve tried, I prefer the Photo Lustre paper for its feel and slight sheen.
The Large Imagewrap Size
This 15×11 book is one of the larger books I’ve done. I have also printed the Deluxe MyPublisher size 15×11.5 and the 13×10 with Aperture. I will do a later comparison post of the three down the line, but just focusing on this book for now. I wanted to do a large size book since I plan to have this as a coffee table book and it’s a compilation of my favorite vacation photos. The large size is obviously perfect for showcasing beautiful landscapes and the paper upgrade was definitely worth it.
In terms of design, I wanted to keep this book simple and with little text as possible. One to two photos per page was the standard layout. I started by dividing the photos into categories such as Nature & Landscapes, Food, By the Sea. To make it easier to lay out each section, I gathered all the photos in a single folder on my desktop, then dragged them into separate subfolders titled with the categories. Given that the photos were from a decade of trips, it would have been too scattered otherwise. I then uploaded only one section at a time to the program to make things more manageable and created a “table of contents” page for the start of the book.
I also created chapter pages for each section based on a similar design of the table of contents page.
I also decided that I didn’t want to put any text/captions on the photos themselves, but I still wanted the viewers of my book to be able to tell where the photo was taken. I decided to create a “legend” at the end of the book to recap the locations. I like the way it turned out visually, though I think I could have made the font size a bit smaller.
Another thing I want to point out is that I was able to get crisp high quality printing using several photos taken with a 5-megapixel camera. Given that this page size is 15×11 – I was stretching the maximum size recommended for printing, but the program didn’t give me a caution sign (yellow triangle with exclamation point), so I decided to take a risk and the photos came out great. So for those who may be apprehensive about not having the latest digital camera with high megapixel capability, don’t stress too much about it – just do it!
How to Get the Best Deal on a Photobook America Photo Book
Groupon vs. Company Promo Savings Compared
Generally, the best deal out there now is the 70% off Photobook America/Canada Groupon that pops up from time to time in various cities throughout Canada and the U.S. Groupon is a company that works with national and local businesses to advertise big discounts to folks who subscribe to its free e-mail newsletter. Many deals such as restaurants and salons are obviously local deals, but many companies like photo book companies are online and therefore their deals can be purchased no matter where you live, as long as the company ships to your location (in some cases even internationally). I have more information on how Groupon works here. Groupon operates in more than 100 cities and we also track Living Social deals – a company very similar to Groupon. If you check out my Photo Book Groupon Tracker – you won’t have to sign up for emails from 100 cities – we track the deals daily on our Groupon Tracker page so be sure to bookmark it or fan my Facebook page so you don’t miss a deal!
Since I’ve been writing this blog for over a year now, I’ve also noticed that Photobook Worldwide consistently has a 40% to 45% off promo code that’s updated every month.
This book was not cheap, but it is a very large size, of high quality and and more than 150 pages with upgraded paper. But still I’m PhotoBookGirl and as my motto goes, “never pay full price for a photo book!”
So which deal is better? Let’s compare the two savings for my book.
Groupon $35 for $115 worth of value:
Book total $304.00 less $115.00 = $189.00 + $35.00 spent on Groupon = $224.00
40% off company promo:
$304.00 less $121.60 = $182.40
So for the book I ordered, using the company’s promo is better than using the Groupon.
I calculated the tipping point before where it’s better to use the promo than the Groupon and that amount is $200.00. If your total photo book order is under $200.00, then the Groupon will give you more savings. If your photo book is more than $200.00, then the 40% off promo is better.
Want to compare photo book pricing across 29 photo book companies? You can even enter page count for a more accurate comparison!
The best deal is FREE! Don’t forget to enter my Photobook Worldwide Giveaway for a chance to win one of five (5) $100 gift certificates! Doesn’t get any cheaper than FREE!
The Photo Lustre paper strikes a good balance between a matte finish and a photographic look. The paper feels substantial to the touch and not as stiff as the Premium Silk 216 gsm paper. Color vibrance is retained and the book has a “real bookstore” look to it. One of the pages printed out of order for some reason and I am working with the company to resolve that issue. I think a disruption in my upload may have caused some glitch, but overall I’m very pleased with the way this book turned out. This paper upgrade is going to be my paper of choice for future books with Photobook America.
Check out all the photo book sizes made by Photobook America.
Find the latest Photobook America (Canada) Coupons here.
I received this book complimentary from the company for purposes of review, but I was not paid for my review. My opinions are my own. I do not receive any commission from the company for purchases made at the company’s site. I am affiliated with Groupon, so I do receive a commission if you buy a Groupon from the Groupon site.