Even if you've never made a photo book before, chances are you've heard of Shutterfly and Snapfish before. They are two well-known and well-established companies in the photo book space, not to mention in the online photo service industry in general.
Snapfish a division of HP (Hewlett Packard) started its online photo service in 2004. Shutterfly has been around since 1999. Both companies have very similar product offerings including photo books, and a broad range of photo gifts such as calendars, notebooks, mugs, mouse pads, canvas prints, photo enlargements and custom holiday cards, as well as offering photo sharing and photo storage.
Photo Book Offerings
In terms of photo books, Shutterfly and Snapfish both offer square and landscape oriented books ranging from 7 x 5 to 11 x 14 inches. Shutterfly offers a 10 x 10 size that Snapfish does not. Snapfish's standard books can go up to 150 pages while Shutterfly maxes out at 110 pages. Both companies now offer lay flat books, both with a seamless gutter (each set of pages is printed on a continuous sheet that folds in the middle). Snapfish touts that unlike its competitors they do not put a barcode on the book. (Shutterfly has a barcode on their lay flat upgrades, but I'm not sure if that's the case on their premium leather books as well. I will update when I find out.)
In terms of paper options, Snapfish does not offer paper upgrades for their standard books. The paper is listed as a 100lb. archival paper in a semi-gloss finish. Shutterfly's standard paper is 65 lb. glossy paper stock (until more recently, Shutterfly used 100 lb. paper as noted on their website). The numbers may be misleading, as Shutterfly's paper doesn't seem that different now than it was before the change. For standard paper, I found Shutterfly's paper a bit thicker in feel than Snapfish's. The lay flat books from both companies feature an upgraded paper, heavier than the standard paper, with pages that don't crease.
In terms of software, both companies started out with fixed templates only, meaning they could not be altered. You merely dragged and dropped photos into the pre-made layouts. More recently however, both companies upgraded their design tools to allow for full customization of layouts. This is a move that many photo book companies have made over the years, allowing customers to have a lot more options. You can still make a quick photo book very easily with both companies, and for those who are new to photo books, both companies' user friendly software is good for the beginner. Both software is online and no download is required to work on your books. If you like to work on your book offline (and sometimes in places that don't have an Internet connection), then these companies won't work for you. (See or Blurb.)
Those who are fans of digital scrapbooking may prefer Shutterfly over Snapfish as Shutterfly appears to have more themes, however Snapfish has added some more clip art recently, from well-known crafter Martha Stewart in addition to other updated embellishments. Snapfish also offers some Disney themed photo books featuring popular characters from Cars, Disney Princesses and Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Shutterfly also offers additional themes and backgrounds (some of which require an additional fee), and have a lot of attractive designer pre-made layouts to choose from.
Print Quality and Construction
As for print quality, both companies have good print quality, but Shutterfly's books appear more neatly constructed and more finished overall. Snapfish doesn't have a blank cover page before the printed pages start as Shutterfly does. Additionally, Snapfish's hardcover books are stitched, which some believe make a book sturdier and thus higher quality construction-wise, but it's actually the stitching that to me detracts from the look of the book. I haven't had any issues with my books that are bound by glue, so the lack of stitching is not an important feature for me personally.
If you're looking for a deal, both companies run frequent promos. Snapfish offers more buy one get one and sometimes buy one get two books promos, so typically, if price is the top concern, Snapfish's prices are normally lower than Shutterfly's. With that said however, Shutterfly often comes out with free book promos and also has its fair share of big discounts on photo books. Shutterfly is also one of the only companies I know of that allow you to "stack" coupon codes. So, for the most part (subject to some limitations) you can keep entering as many coupon codes as is applicable to your order and the discounts can even be taken on top of sale prices. Depending on the project, I often look for the best photo book deal running at the time. You'll find numerous in-depth reviews on my site of both companies' papers and view actual books that I've made under their respective review pages.
If you're trying to make a decision between Shutterfly and Snapfish, you have to decide which factor or factors are most important to you. The company you go with may be dictated by the specs of your particular project. For me personally, I print more photo books with Shutterfly, but for other custom photo gifts, I have found a lot of great deals on items such as personalized notebooks on Snapfish. I also have not tried Snapfish's lay flat books yet and it looks like something worth trying out. I'll be sure to provide an update when I give it a go.
This is just a general overview of the two companies and their main similarities and differences. I have written several articles about both companies as you'll see at the bottom of this page. You can also visit Snapfish or Shutterfly directly for more information.
|Book Type||Hardcover & Softcover||Hardcover & Softcover|
|Book Shape||Landscape & Square||Landscape & Square|
|Types of Covers||Full Photo Cover, Fabric, Leather, Suede, Satin, Cloth, Padded, Glossy and Matte options||Full Photo Cover, Dust Jacket, Die-cut Leather/Linen/Paper, Padded Velvet, Padded Leather|
|Min/Max Pages||20 - 110||20 - 150|
|Paper||65 lb glossy acid free, lignin free, archival paper stock (110 lb acid free softcover covers); photo paper (lay flat)||110 lb.; 80 lb. (2x3)|
|Binding||Professionally bound (glued) hardcovers / Perfect bound softcovers||Professionally bound|
|Fully Customizable Layouts||Yes||Yes|
|Layouts/Templates||270+ layouts, unlimited with customization||80+ (8x11)|
|Image as Background||Yes||Yes|
|Full Photo Cover||Yes||Yes|
|Full Photo Back Cover||Yes||No - small photo in box with text|
|Full Page Bleed||Yes||Yes|
|Captions/Fonts||30 fonts in 60 colors||13 fonts in hex colors|
|Download or Online||Online||Online|
|Special Photo Importing||iPhoto||Flickr|
|Sell Online||Yes - friends & family may buy; pro gallery||No|
|Logo||Yes - on last interior page||Yes|
|Photo Editing in Program||Rotate, Zoom, Red eye, B&W, Color tone, Saturate, Soft focus, Vivid Pics, Fade||Rotate, Zoom, Brighten, Flip Horiz or Vert, Red Eye, Enhance, B&W, Sepia, Color Tints|
|Digital Scrapbooking Compatible||Yes||Yes|
|See my Shutterfly review. There are 26 photo books available from Shutterfly, with sizes ranging from 7x5 to 12x12.||See my Snapfish review. Snapfish offers 13 photo books, ranging in size from 3x2 to 14x11.|
Coupon Code: 10BLISS
Deal Expires: 3/11/2014Offer is good for 10 free 5x7 flat or folded cards (excludes photo paper, 4x5, 3x5, pearl shimmer, round corners) through shutterfly.com. Valid only for new Shutterfly customers (those who have never purchased from Shutterfly). Offer cannot be redeemed more than once per account and/or billing address. Taxes, shipping and handling will apply. Rounded corners and pearl shimmer cardstock will incur extra fees. Not valid on other sizes, purchases made on the Shutterfly iPhone, iPad and Android apps or Shutterfly Pro Galleries.
Coupon Code: S43LK
Deal Expires: 3/11/2014Offer is good for 25% off qualifying merchandise orders through shutterfly.com. Taxes, shipping and handling will apply. Not valid on prepaid plans, gift certificates, videograms, cards sent using mailing services, prior purchases, orders placed for in-store pick up, purchases made on the Shutterfly iPhone, iPad and Android apps or Shutterfly Pro Galleries.
Coupon Code: SHIP30
Coupon Code: CARD4U
Deal Expires: 3/11/2014One free 5x7 flat, 5x7 folded, or 5x5 flat card on signature cardstock. Offer cannot be redeemed more than once per account and/or billing address.
For new members. Sign up here.
Photo Book Girl Tip!
Coupon Code: SHIP0330
Deal Expires: 3/15/2014
Coupon Code: MARMUG
Deal Expires: 3/15/2014
Coupon Code: MARCRDS
Deal Expires: 3/15/2014
Coupon Code: 37SITE
Deal Expires: 3/11/2014