So I’ve been reviewing photo books for almost a decade now (wow really?) and making them for a lot longer. Over the years I’ve refined and narrowed down the type of photo book which is my absolute favorite. For sure most of my photo books in the last few years regardless of photo book company have had the following stats: 1) Hardcover; 2) Lay Flat; 3) Very thick, hard to bend paper; 4) Seamless without a gutter; 5) Full photo cover.
So what makes this my favorite type of book? The main draw for me to this type of book is mainly #3 – the very thick paper which cannot be easily bent. Why? Because I want to be able to share my photo books with everyone, including my young children without worry that the pages will get crushed or bent. Photo books are meant for sharing and I find I’m kind of reluctant to show my books with standard pages too often for fear that the pages will get bent. Inevitably they do just through normal wear and for sure young kids hasten that.
As for the other specs, #1 – Hardcover is kind of a no brainer for me. It’s more durable.
#2 – Lay flat photo books are easier to flip through. You don’t have to use two hands to hold the book open. Plus, you don’t lose any part of the image in the gutter (the center of the book where the two pages meet).
#4 – Not all lay flat books are seamless – some lay flat books have a hinged binding where an image that spans two pages will be divided. But with a seamless gutter (where the center is folded versus separated) means no image loss in the middle of the page. This gives you more options when you’re laying out your designs if you know that a large 2-page image will not get cut in the middle. As you can see in many of my layouts in this book, I have a lot of images that cross the center of the spread.
#5 – A full photo cover is more sleek and modern in my opinion. I have seen some very nice fabric and leather covers but I prefer the simplicity of a well-chosen photo for the cover that creates anticipation for the story I’m telling inside.
This premium lay flat photo book is a more recent addition to Mixbook’s offerings. Mixbook’s first hardcover lay flat was a very different product. The pages were printed then mounted to a very thick core which made the books very thick and very heavy. It was a decent book but the print quality on these newer lay flats is much, much better – it’s more clear, more vibrant and the paper looks more like real photo paper though it is not. Additionally, the old lay flat books were way too heavy. There’s no comparison.
Please note this book was provided at a discount by Mixbook for purposes of review and I am an affiliate of Mixbook which means I may receive a referral free if you click on an ad or link or make a purchase. Regardless of affiliation, my opinions are my own and I always give my honest opinion, good or bad.
Now that you know the basic specs of “Photo Book Girl’s Favorite Photo Book” let’s see how this book turned out!
Here’s the stats:
|Book Type||Mixbook Premium Lustre Lay Flat photo book – Square|
|Size||8.5 x 8.5″; This book 59 pages (99 pages max)|
|Price||$79.99 (20 pgs) + $1.39/pg x 39 extra pgs = $134.20 (less $60.00 credit from Company for purposes of review and 33% discount). Plus $6.18 tax and $8.99 shipping = $45.08 Click here for the latest Mixbook coupons and deals!|
|Ordered/Shipped/Delivered:||Oct 15 / Oct 18/ Oct 21 (standard shipping – $8.99)|
Book Construction & Production Time
Six days from hitting the order button to receiving my book in hand is great for turnaround time. I only paid for the most basic shipping. If you’re in a time crunch (which I’m no stranger to), picking one of the more expedited shipping methods will get you a book even faster. The book is very well constructed. The corners are neat and overall looks like a professional book. The book came well packaged in shrink wrap with an inner cardboard sleeve that protected the book from getting dinged corners in transit (which I have seen all too many times).
The book has a matte cover with a soft velvety feel to it. This is the only cover option for this type of lay flat book and it looks professional and neat. The inside covers are blank. The last page has Mixbook’s logo on it. There is no option to remove the logo.
You can see below how the center of the spread is not split but folded. This is what is meant by the seamless gutter. You don’t lose any of the image in the center of the spread which would be typical with a non-lay flat book. I love the flexibility it adds in my layouts. Even if you had a large group shot that you wanted to do as a two-page spread, you could successfully pull that off, while you could never do this with a non-lay flat book or a lay flat book with a hinged binding.
The print quality is very impressive. In particular the color reproduction is very true to the original. With my subject being florals, with many in my personal collection, I know exactly what color each flower is supposed to be. So I am very, very picky about tone, tint and saturation. They are all spot-on. The blacks are deep as they should be and I do not detect any graininess or pixelation. I really love the paper. On some of the images you can almost detect a pearlescence or sheen which makes the images really pop off the page. I couldn’t find anything on Mixbook’s site providing exact paper specs. The site describes it as, “thick, premium paper with a luxe matter finish.” I opted for the Premium Lustre paper. There is also an option to choose the Premium Matte paper which has a low-glare matte finish.
Tips on Making a Mixbook Photo Book
Mixbook photo books are created online, so you do have to be connected to the Internet to be able to use Mixbook’s software. Once you upload your photos to your project, you can then work on your book anywhere you have a connection. The software runs very smoothly and is one of the most user-friendly I’ve come across. One thing I want to note however is that I haven’t been able to login or get the software to open on Chrome. (I’m on a Mac.) I had switch to Firefox to get it to work for me. In my last review of Mixbook in 2018, I noted that the “copy/paste” function was missing. However, it’s back but it’s not shown as an icon so you wouldn’t know it was there unless you tried. I am able to select a photo (as well as select more than one image using the shift key) and hit “Command + C” to copy and then “Command + V” to paste which is essential to me in the way I create my pages. If I want to have two photo boxes be the same exact size as I build a layout, the easiest and most efficient way is for me to copy that image and then paste it on the next page. You can duplicate a whole spread as well so that is useful, but when you are creating your own layouts, being able to copy a single element or a set of elements is super efficient. So glad that’s been included.
Other unique software features include:
- 100+ fonts
- Ability to adjust photo borders, shadows, opacity, shape
- Ability to make edits to brightness, saturation and contrast
- Elements can cross over the center of the spread (works well for lay flat books like this)
- Guides pop up automatically to show you when an image is centered on the page.
- Tasteful designs, clip art and themes are free to use (currently 374 themes are available)
- You can upload your own scrapbooking type elements such as stickers and other clip art for use in the software.
- You can title the spine of the book
Sizes and Book Types
Mixbook book products include landscape, square and portrait orientations. Landscape books come in three sizes: 8 x 6″; 11 x 8.5″ and 14 x 11″. Square books come in 6 x 6″; 8.5 x 8.5″; 10 x 10″ and 12 x 12″. Portrait books come in 8.5 x 11″. The Premium Lay Flat paper option however is not available in the 6 x 6″ size, the 14 x 11″ or the portrait book.
I really hope they expand the premium lay flat option to allow for Portrait oriented books. That is one of my favorite formats because of how well a single landscape photo fits across the spread.
A big plus is how easy it is to price out your options so there are no surprises as to final book cost. I like how you can make selections and compare the costs in a clear fashion. Pricing info shows that extra pages beyond 20 cost $1.39 per page (8.5″ square); $1.89 per page (10″ square); $2.29 per page (12″ square) and $1.49 and $2.39 for the landscape books. Some sites make it so hard to find this information. If I can’t easily figure out how much a book will cost, I will generally not bother to invest the time to make a book. Many other sites bury that information which is a mistake.
I also want to mention you have an option for Premium Matte Lay Flat paper. I haven’t tried that paper yet, but it’s the same price as the Premium Lustre, so it’s nice to have a second option.
I’m really happy with how my floral photo book turned out. Vibrant colors, crisp print quality and lay flat features checks the boxes for all of my photo book must haves! Mixbook frequently runs great deals which I track in my photo deal tracker so be sure to check for the latest discounts. In fact you can get this book right now for a better discount than I did! I’d love to hear in the comments what your favorite photo book specs are! Happy photobooking!
UPDATE: Mixbook is currently running a sale on Premium Lustre Lay Flat Photo Books! Get 50% off a book just like mine! Coupon Code: PREM50 Deal Expires: 11/6/19.