© 2011 photobookgirl

Inkubook Review & Latest 2011 Inkubook Coupon Codes (now Snap MyLife Creations)

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Hi folks, got a little sidetracked with all the work on the giveaway, but it’s review time again!

In this post I review Inkubook.  It’s been a company I’ve been meaning to try for a while.  I finished the book in time to add it to my paper quality comparison post, so check it out for more details on how Inkubook’s paper ranks against other photo book companies.  Overall, the paper quality is very good – more on that later.

So, what attracts me to try a given photo book company?  Sometimes a company asks me to review its photo book service, sometimes I see a feature or unique product I want to try, and most times I’ve sniffed out a good deal.  What got me to try Inkubook is the company’s buy one get one free deal for new customers.  Since I was making a long-promised book for my aunt and mom for a trip they took to Thailand for Chinese New Year 2010 (Year of the Tiger) – I figured since it was now getting to Year of the Rabbit, I better get my butt moving on it!  Since I needed two books, a BOGO deal was perfect!

Here’s the specs:

Book size: 8.5 x 11 (width x height) portrait
Cover: Hardcover – Custom Cover (Gloss Finish)
Pages: 64 (double-sided), 100 lb. silk paper
Binding: Hardcover, Case bound
Price: $44.95/book + $9.98 (Standard – Ground)Two book Total: $54.93

(I got one book FREE with Inkubook’s ongoing BOGO deal for new customers.)

Ordered/Shipped/Received: Jan 25 / Jan 28/ Feb 1

Inkubook estimates production time as 2 to 6 business days (not including shipping).  My books took about 3 days to print and I had the book in hand within 8 calendar days of making it, which was within the timeframe given and prompt.

Inkubook’s Software

Inkubook’s photo book designing process is online, however  the software requires a download of Microsoft Silverlight, a free program that is compatible with both PCs and Macs (but not PowerPC Macs).  Here’s the basic stats:

Inkubook offers a good selection of book sizes and orientations.

The software offers approximately 250 layouts.  The templates cannot be altered – making the software most similar to companies such as Snapfish and Shutterfly (in contrast to companies that allow for full customization of layouts such as Picaboo and Mixbook for example).  You have 10 standard font choices, not extensive, but serviceable.

The book making process starts with uploading your photos from your computer, Facebook or Flickr.  The upload time was not bad.  I forgot to note how long it took me to upload my photos, so I went back to check.  In a quick test of 8 photos (each a couple MB each), it took about 2 minutes total.  After upload, you select the number of photos you want to place on any given page and pick from that subset of pre-designed templates.  Then it’s simple drag and drop.  You can also use the auto fill tool to have the software place your photos into layouts for you.

The software was easy to use, but as you probably know, I like to customize my layouts.  I find fixed templates rather restrictive, but I’m not “against them” per se – they’re fine if you want to make a simple photo book with standard layouts.  It’s just that there’s always only a small handful of layouts that I actually like (versus a lot more I don’t like) so, the pages tend to get a bit monotonous.  As with any photo book company, if you create your own layouts using Adobe Photoshop or InDesign or other external layout programs, you will not be limited by the software.

As for the overall workspace, you can put your tools container at the top or the side of the workspace.  The workspace was reasonably sized for my 15″ monitor, no major eye-strain working on a laptop screen.

Inkubook screenshot workspace

Preview mode gives you a larger view of your pages.

When you hover over a background, layout or photo, I like that an enlarged version of the image pops up.  That makes it easier to see what you’re selecting before dragging it over to the page.  You can also sort your photos by date taken, date uploaded or name.

Although I didn’t use this feature for this project, Inkubook also allows for collaboration.  You can invite friends and family to upload their photos to the project, but they cannot edit the project layouts themselves.  So while you may retain overall control over the design, I don’t know if I would consider this true collaboration as invitees cannot make design contributions.  (The other photo book company that I’ve reviewed for collaboration is Mixbook.  In Mixbook you can invite collaborators to edit and create their own pages in the book, which in my opinion is preferable.)

Inkubook Software Tips:

  • If you’re doing a portrait oriented book, click on the tray tool (at the top right of the page under the “BUY” button) and have your photo/layout tray placed at the left of the page for a larger view of the book while you’re laying it out.  If you’re doing a landscape book, you’ll get a larger page view by leaving it where it is at the top;
  • Where is the SAVE button??? Inkubook automatically saves your project, but they should indicate that somewhere on the page. For a while I was too scared to close my browser until I confirmed the auto-save feature in the FAQ;
  • Unfortunately you cannot title the spine and no customization is allowed (you may not place an image on the spine either) – that may be a dealbreaker for some. The spine comes in a solid color;
  • I couldn’t find an “Undo” button – it would be nice if one were added;
  • You may request customer service to remove the Inkubook logo that is printed on the back cover at no charge;
  • Keep in mind when laying out your book, the pricing structure for Inkubook is in groupings of pages, not individual pages.  For an 8.5 x 11 hardcover book, 0-20 pages is $29.95; is  21-40 pages is $34.95; 41-80 is 44.95; 81-120 is $54.95. So, two things to note about this pricing structure.  When designing your book, max out the pages in the range.  (Notice that I did not remember this, and only made 62 pages when I could have had 80!)  Also, notice how you get a “volume discount” on pages.  Your cost per page goes down drastically, the more pages you design! (Cost per page of a 40 page book is $.87 while per page cost of a 120 page book is $.46)  Another company that prices by page range rather than by each extra page is Blurb;

Inkubook Print Quality and Construction

Inkubook cover

The cover is glossy but has a texture to it - (it doesn't reflect smoothly) typical of many photo book companies offering a glossy cover. Since you have a choice at checkout, I would probably choose matte next time.

Inside cover Inkubook

At checkout you also elect either the white or black inner end sheet.

The paper was of good thickness and felt substantial.  As mentioned above you can see in my earlier post, how Inkubook’s paper compares to the other companies.  In terms of matte versus glossy, Inkubook’s interior pages are on the matte side of the spectrum – in fact it had one of the most matte finishes I’ve seen.  There is no option for paper upgrade or other types of papers, so this paper is standard and is a good quality paper with no bleedthrough.  In terms of print quality, I thought Inkubook was good overall, with good color reproduction, but the sharpness didn’t blow me away.

Here’s some sample layouts. Everything in this book was created inside the Inkubook software itself.

This little doggie in a Chinese outfit cracks me up.

My lovely dear Granny viewing my wedding photo book. She passed away last month at the age of 98 and will always be remembered for her strong-spirit and deep pride in being a great great grandmother. Right after this photo was taken my brother set up a web cam and helped her Skype me for the first time - a priceless memory 🙂

The back cover has the Inkubook logo printed on it, however, you can ask for it to be removed at no cost. I left it on for review purposes. It's unobtrusive in my opinion.

Summary

Print Quality

In comparing Inkubook to other photo book companies with fixed templates, (Shutterfly & Snapfish come to mind) I prefer Shutterfly for print quality over Inkubook and Snapfish.  I would rate Inkubook good overall in terms of print quality and construction, but I find Shutterfly a bit sharper.  Paper quality wise, I would say both are pretty equal.

Price

If you’re looking at value for the money however, Inkubook’s prices are very, very hard to beat.  Not accounting for special promos, when I ran the numbers through my Photo Book Wizard, I was pretty blown away.

I picked the most common book size and shape – Hardcover, Landscape, Medium and narrowed the results (11×8 size).  I plugged in 80 pages because you’re not going to see the difference unless we’re talking higher page counts due to the way Inkubook charges for extra pages as mentioned above.

Wowzers, we’re talking half price folks!  This is with no special promos!

(Note there are a few other companies that are priced very similarly to Inkubook – namely Blurb. I’m just showing the companies with fixed templates for simplicity here.  Try the Wizard yourself and customize your sort preferences.)

Inkubook is definitely worth a try.  Although I wasn’t blown away by this book, it is still a good, solid choice for making a photo book.  I love a good deal and you can’t fault the price.  Since I used the BOGO deal, each book was only $27.

How to Get the Best Deal on an Inkubook photo book

1) Look out for the $25 for $65 Inkubook Groupon.  If it’s available, you will find it on our Groupon Tracker page;

2) Like Photobookgirl on Facebook – I post deals on there all the time and I’ll just pop up in your news feed;

3) For new users, try the BOGO deal!  Sign up for a new account and you will receive an email with the coupon code.  (The company confirmed you cannot use the BOGO deal and Groupon together, but it was worth asking anyway!);

4) Even if you’re not a new user, Inkubook has the BOGO deal running through the end of today, 3/13/2011 (Limit 1 per customer.) Coupon Code: BOGOWEEK311 Deal Expires: March 13, 2011

5) 20% off orders of $30 or more (Limit 1 per customer.) Coupon Code: BBALL2011 Deal Expires: March 15, 2011

6) 15% off orders where quantity is 10 – 199, 20% off 200 – 599, 25% off 600 or more. Coupon Code: INKUBUNCH Deal Expires: December 31, 2011

Have a great Sunday!

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One Comment

  1. Melissa Ebarb
    Posted July 5, 2011 at 11:32 am | #

    PBG thanks so much for this review!! I just purchased my Groupon deal for this website and CANNOT wait to try it now!! Your tips will definitley help me in making this book!!!

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