This is Part 5 of my series on making your own digital photo book. Missed a few posts? Check out the overview of my how-to photo book guide and catch up!
Finding the “best” online photo book company to print your photo book depends on several factors. Now before you moan and say to yourself – “Just give me an answer Photo Book Girl! Just tell me who to choose!” hear me out.
I give all the pros and cons of each company I’ve personally tried in the blog posts I’ve written on that company. A rating system will likely come down the line, but my first priority is to try as many companies as possible and to get them into the database.
I have yet to find a company that has everything on my wish list (and those who have read my reviews won’t be surprised) but here’s a recap of my personal list of “must haves”:
1) Customizable layouts – while I have the capability to create my own layouts in external software, it would be quicker and more convenient to have that flexibility already built into the free software provided. A new user may be content to use the pre-made templates and I’ve used them myself for basic projects, but from the feedback I’ve been getting, there are many users who are looking for more creative freedom;
2) Good Print Quality – crisp, vivid photos that get close to what I see on my computer screen – a no brainer right?
3) Good Paper Quality – the pages should not feel flimsy, should have good heft and should be fairly opaque so that the photos on the other side don’t show through;
4) Custom Cover Hardcover – I prefer hardcover books to softcover ones and I like to be able to design a full-bleed cover for a nice custom look;
5) Affordable Price – everyone wants a deal – including me! For a wedding photo book or a family tree photo book you may be willing to spend more, but don’t forget about all those vacations, birthdays, everyday fun, back-to-school, and baby books. There are lots of affordable options to get those photos off your computer and into your hands – photo books are for more than just “special occasions”. Don’t make a photo book unless you get a deal, and as you can see from my blog, there are deals happening every day!
So, how about your personal list of photo book company “must haves”? This site helps you find the best photo book company for your project, so let’s take a look at all the tools available on this site.
Currently, we have 28 companies and 296 29 companies and 326 photo book types in the database and more on the way. (And folks, this was all entered by hand!) How do you navigate through all these choices? Read on!
Q: I’m a newbie, where do I start?
A: Try the three-step Photo Book Wizard.
My favorite tool is the three-step Photo Book Wizard. It’s a quick and easy process to narrow your options down from the almost 300 books in the database.
We ask you three questions:
1) Hardcover or Softcover?
2) Landscape, Portrait or Square?
3) Small, Medium or Large?
A full explanation of these options along with illustrative photos, are provided to guide you through the process.
After the initial steps, you can narrow the results further by using the pull down menus to select only lay-flat books, or only companies offering high page capacities (over 100 pages).
Even better yet, you can plug in the number of pages you want in your photo book to see which company will give you the best price. So this tool is not just for those folks who are new to photo books, I use this tool all the time to do price comparisons.
Check out my first video tutorial on all the fun and time-saving features of the Photo Book Wizard!
If you have any trouble viewing the video in your browser, here’s a link to my YouTube page:
Q: Which photo book company’s software will allow me to do “X”?
A: Ask the Photo Book Software Wizard.
While the Photo Book Wizard focuses on basic type and size, the Photo Book Software Wizard focuses on some of the main software design features you may find important.
For example, this tool will allow you to eliminate those photo book companies that won’t work with your operating system (like PC only software) for instance. You can also determine which companies offer fully customizable layouts or digital scrapbooking embellishments. The logos disappear as the company is eliminated from contention, leaving those companies that fit your specs. Then you can click on the remaining companies to see the an overview of a company’s software and features, with links to the photo books in their product line as well as links to photo book deals and reviews.
Q: I have two companies in mind, I want to know which one is better for me?
A: Use the Photo Book Comparison Tool. (UPDATE 2/13/2011: This tool has been temporarily turned off but will be back!)
Let’s say you’ve used Mixbook before and you’re familiar with their software and products, but you’ve been hearing the buzz about Picaboo because of the recent amazing Groupon discounts. Compare the two companies side-by side by using the Photo Book Comparison Tool just click on their logos.
Q: I want to know more about Company “X”.
A: Check out the Photo Book Reviews page.
There are two basic types of reviews offered on the site:
1) A review/overview of the photo book company and its software features;
2) A review of the final printed product in the blog (if I have printed a book with that company before).
Once you click on a company logo, you’ll find a list of software features and tips, links to the photo books in their product line as well as deals and book reviews.
Q: I want to know more about a particular photo book’s specs.
A: Go to the Photo Book Sizes and Prices page.
Know which company you want to use but want to know more about the particular book’s specifications such as paper weight and minimum and maximum page counts?
This page allows you to get more specific once you’ve selected your company and size book. It will tell you what specific binding and paper is used for example. Remember that a single company can offer many different products with different cover and paper choices.
Alternatively, if you know what size book you want to print, such as an 8×8 photo book, you can click on the 8×8 size in the chart and the tool will show you all the companies that offer that size book.
Q: Show me the latest photo book deals!
A: Go to the Photo Book Deals page!
I’m always on the lookout for a deal, and you should be too. A number of companies offer free books for new customers or buy one get one free deals or other discount promotions. The best place to find deals is on the Photo Book Deals page. Be sure to click back on the last few deals posts as some of the earlier deals posted may not have expired yet.
The best way to stay on top of the latest deals is to:
Q: I’m still stumped – help!
A: Ask PhotoBookGirl or post a comment.
Having a hard time getting started? Post a question on the blog or Contact Me. I really encourage you to share your question through the blog or through the comments section at the bottom of each review page (rather than sending me a personal email), as your question or comment will be useful for others who may be wondering the same thing!
- I’m new! Take me step-by-step through the photo book wizard.
- I want to make a photo book with “X” of pages, which company is cheapest?
- Which photo book company offers a certain software feature?
- I have two companies in mind, and I want to compare them.
- I want to see photo book reviews.
- I want to see the photo books available from each company.
- I want a deal! Show me all the available photo book coupons.
- Help me Photobookgirl!
Now that you’ve hopefully picked the photo book company to print your next project, my next post will take a look at photo book layouts: the good, the bad, and the ugly. You won’t want to miss an overview of my favorite photo book layouts (and my not-so-successful layouts too)! More video tutorials to come!