© 2010 photobookgirl Post-bound picaboo lay flat

What is a Lay Flat Photo Book?

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Update 3/5/2011: I made a lay flat photo book (Ashbury) with MyPhotoCreations.

Update 11/25/2010: I made my first flush mount photo album with MyPhotoCreations!

Update 8/16/2010: I made a lay flat honeymoon photo book with Picaboo. Check out my Picaboo software and Madison photo book review.

Update 7/20/2010: I recently made my first lay flat wedding photo book with AdoramaPix. Check out my AdoramaPix review and step-by-step guide.

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Lay flat photo books have a type of binding that allows the pages to stay open and remain completely flat, so you don’t have to hold down the pages while viewing it. Some lay flat photo books feature two separate pages hinged at the middle, while others may be a single sheet folded in the middle. A coil or wire-bound or post-bound book can also lay flat.

A flush mount photo album is a type of photo book that lays flat. Flush mount photo albums differ from other digital press printed photo books as they are printed on actual photo paper and then mounted onto a sturdy backing.  As a result, the pages are thicker and do not bend as easily as a digitally printed photo book.  Due to the thickness of the page, flush mount photo albums do not come with high page counts.

Here are some examples of lay flat photo books:

Picaboo’s flush mount album

Mpix Assembled Album lay flat

Mpix’s flush mount Assembled Album

Mpix close up binding

Close-up of Mpix Assembled Album binding

RitzPix Premium Lay Flat

RitzPix’s Premium Lay Flat photo book

Post-bound picaboo lay flat

Picaboo’s post-bound lay flat book

Why are lay flat photo books desirable?

  • Some lay flat albums have a very narrow gutter (1/16″ for example) so you lose very little of the image in the center of the book.  This is especially effective when you do a two-page spread where your design is meant to extend across both pages or when you have a single-image that you want to fill up both pages as with a panoramic photo.  Some lay flat albums have no gutter which means you don’t lose any of the image in the spine of the book.
  • Viewing a lay flat book is easier since you don’t have to hold down the pages.
  • Aside from the plastic coil or wire-bound versions, lay flat books look more high-end and are generally more professional in appearance.  Until recently, this option was only available to professional photographers, but now with the growing number of photo book makers out there, offering an ever-increasing amount of options for consumers, lay flat photo books are within a reasonable price point.
  • Lay flat books look different from the average book you can get in the bookstore – and as you know, things that are out of the ordinary are eye-catching.
  • Even with the coil or wire bound options which are not thought of as “high-end”, the lay flat option is great for books that you want to stay flat for utility’s sake – such as a cookbook or instruction manual

What types of occasions/topics are best suited to the lay flat option?

  • Special occasions such as weddings, anniversaries, baby’s baptism, and other heirloom type books make sense with this type of binding.
  • Travel photo books featuring sweeping landscapes, beautiful vistas and panoramic views would benefit by an unbroken (or nearly unbroken) two-page spread.
  • Artist or photography portfolios would look fabulous in a lay flat book for the same reasons as travel books above.
  • With photo book makers offering affordable lay flat options, any topic would look great!

Okay, I want one!  What companies offer lay flat photo books?

  • These 5 12 photo book makers offer a total of 100 lay flat photo books with different cover materials, styles, sizes and page counts.
  • Prices range from $16.00 to $600.00.  The price difference has to do with size as well as type of photo book.  As mentioned above, lay flat flush mount albums printed on real photo paper, cost more than digitally printed photo books.

On my continuing mission to seek out the best photo books and try unique photo book software features, I will be trying a couple lay flat options in the coming weeks so I can share the information with you. (See top of the post for updates!)

If you’ve made a lay flat book before, please comment below and tell me your favorite photo book maker!

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11 Comments

  1. Posted June 13, 2010 at 10:30 am | #

    We also do those gorgeous lay-flat books. Our Rocket Life software gives you the ability to design across both pages for a bold look and our covers are beautiful! We have both premium leather and printed covers.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted June 13, 2010 at 8:54 pm | #

      Hi Kim,

      Thanks for your comment and letting us know about your company. I happen to use a Mac – does the Rocket Life software work with Macs?

  2. Posted June 14, 2010 at 4:24 pm | #

    It does not at this time. They will hopefully be launching a mac version in the future.

  3. Andrea
    Posted October 27, 2010 at 9:04 pm | #

    Thanks for taking the time to compile so much information (not to mention coupons) on your site; I can’t imagine how much time it’s taken you. One thing: “lay flat” is grammatically wrong; it should be “lie flat.” I wish RitzPix and other companies would make an effort to use proper English when they name their products!

    • (another) Andrea
      Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:01 am | #

      Oh that’s hilarious: I was thinking just the same thing and my name is also Andrea. Does that mean it’s a pedantic name?

  4. Tamar
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 5:40 pm | #

    Thanks so much for this! I really want a lay-flat book :)

  5. Natasha
    Posted December 31, 2011 at 5:01 pm | #

    MyPublisher also offers the lay-flat option.

    I just received my photobook that has the lay-flat pages and am pretty happy with this feature:)

    cheers

  6. Kathy
    Posted January 14, 2012 at 10:31 pm | #

    I just made my first-ever photobook and used MyPublisher because they had a sale going for no extra charge on extra pages. So I made a 100-page book (why not?). I got the classic hardcover (8.75″x 11.25″) with thicker paper and the lay flat option. Ordered it before I even found this awesome blog. After shipping, it cost $65. Can’t tell you how amazing it is. Did a lot of the pages in photoshop but the templates in the software worked perfect for over half the pages. I used a two-page spread between sections with one blank, black page on the left and reverse white type on the right with the heading. Looks like it came from a bookstore! I’m going to try MyMixBook next since I bought a Groupon last month and see how that works out. After MyPublisher, I might be already spoiled and not like the quality elsewhere, but it’ll definately be a fun adventure from here on out!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted January 14, 2012 at 10:47 pm | #

      I made my first book with MyPublisher too. I print with lots of different companies for different types of projects. MyPublisher is one of my favorites. It sounds like you’re hooked! I can’t ever imagine going back to traditional photo albums. They’re so clunky and you can’t be as creative. :) Happy photobooking!

  7. Posted September 17, 2012 at 12:03 am | #

    With over 7,000 pictures, I am finally ready to get them into photo books. But my fear is a smooth transition of Photoshop edited pictures to being saved properly then placed in single file then successfully transferred to photo book software like Picaboo, etc. I simply don’t understand this process and find I can’t locate or open needed files. Please help with detailed steps so I can’t mess up. Thanks

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