© 2012 photobookgirl

MyPicTales 2012 Review

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MyPicTales is a family owned photo book company that opened shop in 2007.  In addition to photo books, the company’s products include calendars, scrapbook pages and cards.  I first heard of the company when they ran a Groupon in several cities last year and folks asked if I’d heard of them before.  I hadn’t tried them at that point, but shortly thereafter MyPicTales contacted me and provided me with a complimentary photo book for purposes of review.  They let me pick, so I decided to try the 10 x 10 size, which is not a commonly available size from other photo book companies.  The 8 x 8 size and the 12 x 12 (the latter a very popular size with scrapbookers) are much more typical sizes, and both are available in MyPicTales offerings as well.  I’ve printed three other 10 x 10 photo books before with other companies, and have always liked the size.  12 x 12 is too big for me (I like to do full page spreads and sometimes I don’t want to see my face that big and close up! ha ha…) and 8 x 8 is fine, but sometimes results in some photos being too small on the page.  10 x 10 is just right.  Just call me Goldilocks.

Here’s the stats:

Book size: 10 x 10 (width x height) square
Cover: Custom Hardcover – Image-wrap
Pages: 74 pages (double-sided); 100 pound text paper
Binding: Glued and stitched (depends on page count)
Price: $65.99 each + $8.25 shipping = $74.24 TOTAL
Ordered/Shipped/Delivered Dec 11 / Dec 21 / Dec 23

MyPicTales Software Review

MyPicTales software

Although this was my first time trying MyPicTales, when I downloaded the software and open it for the first time, I realized I was already familiar with it as it’s the same software used by MyPhotoCreations (licensed from DigiLabs – a photo processor that caters to pro photographers).  The software is easy to use and the photo upload works very quickly so you can get to the bookmaking process promptly.  You can have the program auto place your photos or you can create your own layouts as the software allows you to fully customize how you want your pages to look.  I decided to make a book of a trip my husband and I took in October 2010 to Monterey and San Francisco.  (See you’re not the only one behind in making photo books! It’s never too late!)

Key features of MyPicTales software:

  • An easy “single page background” and “two page spread background” option allows you to quickly place your photo on one page or one whole spread of your book;
  • You can put an image on the spine as well as title the spine;
  • You can design across the spread (the center of the page), by dragging across the item you want to place;
  • Use your own fonts – a great feature (I think every company should allow for this.);
  • Use the “perfectly clear” photo editing tools to brighten and enhance your photos if you haven’t already tweaked them.  I wouldn’t use this as a primary way to edit your photos, but in a pinch it does a good job.  If the photo looks washed out after using it, just undo it;
  • Choose from an assortment of picture shapes like my favorite rounded corner frames or hearts, stars, circles etc.
  • A nice option is the ability to save the layouts you’ve created for future use;
  • You can see the x & y coordinates of your photo boxes so you can make sure size and placement are consistent and aligned properly (the alignment tools are also helpful in that respect);
  • You can control the opacity of your photos and backgrounds

If you’re big on backgrounds and clip art, there is only a limited selection and I don’t see a way to upload your own.  There are 12 themes available as well as some ready made book templates, but you’d probably want to create your own custom layouts.  You don’t have to start from scratch however, there are a number of layout templates that you can move around and tweak to your liking.

I’ve recently added MyPicTales to my database of photo book companies.  This is company number 31 to be added!

Here’s a screenshot from my MyPicTales Reviews page with more stats:

Print Quality and Book Construction

Packaging

The book came well-protected – shrinkwrapped, with a sheet of foam for cushion and cardboard to stiffen the whole package, then inserted into a cardboard box.  I was glad to see no dinged corners.

Book Construction

The cover has a textured gloss finish.  The slight texture will probably help prevent fingerprints from appearing.  The cover photo reproduced well, vibrant and clear.  The book appears to be stitched and glued and overall looks sturdy.  The interior edges of the cover are neatly wrapped and covered with black paper.  There are two black endsheets, one at the front and one at the back.

Print Quality

The overall print quality of the interior pages was good.  My captions printed out crisp and clear and the colors matched what I saw on my screen.  I think the “perfectly clear” enhancing tool did help several of the photos.  Buy the way, since many of you are font geeks, the printed font is my own font in my own printing!  Cool huh?  Yes, I turned my handwriting and my printing into a font!  I’ll write a post about that later 🙂  The larger script font is once again my fave, P22 Cezanne (the latter you can find free on the Internet).

Unfortunately, there were two major issues.  Some pages had a white band at the bottom.  This happened on several spreads and seems to me that the cropping during production must have been off since I had selected either “single page background” or “two page spread background” which should give me automatic full bleeds on the pages.

Also, inexplicably, three pages were missing from the end of my book.  When I rechecked my book file, they were in the file, so I don’t know why they weren’t in the printed book.  I contacted the company and sent them a few photos of the white-tipped pages and they are working on a reprint for me.  I will repost when I get the reprinted book.

The paper is 100 lb. in weight.  If you hold up a page, especially the ones with lighter background you can see some of the reverse image, but there’s no significant bleedthrough.  It can be hard to compare apples to apples when it comes to paper, as one company’s 100 lb. paper and another company’s 100 lb. paper can feel substantially different from one another.  Paper weight may provide you with a guideline as to thickness of the paper, but the way paper feels can also depend on how stiff the paper is.  I would say the paper is probably most comparable to Mixbook, Snapfish and Picaboo’s paper in terms of weight and feel.  For more details on how photo book paper compares across companies see photo book paper comparisons here.

Layouts

I get emails from readers from time to time asking to see my layouts.  Here’s the complete book in thumbnail form so you can get an idea of how the layouts look all together.  I tried to keep the spreads together, but the cover throws off the pairing.  Anyway you can tell which pages go together.

Summary

MyPicTales’ software will give you a lot of flexibility in designing your layouts, especially with the ability to use your own fonts.  If you like digital scrapbooking however, you’re best off designing your own layouts with your own clip art in an external design program and uploading your completed pages into the software as there isn’t much of a selection of clip art or backgrounds.  There were some missteps with regard to book production as mentioned, but the company is issuing a reprint and I’ll update this post when I receive the new book.  As to price, MyPicTales is the cheapest for the 10 x 10 size as compared to the other companies in my photo book database.  There were more comparables as to the next larger size up of 12 x 12 and in terms of pricing for that size, they’re around the middle of the pack.  I’ll be working this week on getting MyPicTales photo books entered into the database so its results will come up in the wizard.

Meanwhile MyPicTales is offering a special 25% discount for Photobookgirl readers!

MyPicTales

Deal #1

For Photo Book Girl Fans!
  • Not valid on single page prints or lay flat books.
  • One offer per person. Not valid with any other offer.

Coupon Code: PhotobookFans
Deal Expires: 12/31/2011 (it’s been extended through 1/31/2012)!

Deal #2

15% off any order or 25% off orders over $100.00

  • Save on photobooks, calendars and cards (does not include single page prints)
  • Valid for US and international orders
  • Cannot be combined with other offers

Coupon Codes: SAVE15 or SAVE25

Deal Expires: not provided

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Please note, I am not an affiliate of MyPicTales, nor do I receive compensation if you buy a book from MyPicTales.  The book shown here was provided complimentary for review purposes.  All opinions are my own.

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5 Comments

  1. Yuki
    Posted January 12, 2012 at 2:55 pm | #

    Thanks for the detailed review! And your photos of the aquarium look amazing. How do you take such great photos of shadows?

    • photobookgirl
      Posted January 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm | #

      Hi Yuki,

      I think you probably mean the people in front of the jellyfish right? Actually the people are backlit by the tank so it’s not their shadows – it’s actually them lighted from the tank. It was fun to experiment taking photos using the light off the glow of the jellyfish tanks. I love underwater life!

  2. Rivka Deutsch
    Posted January 16, 2012 at 3:20 am | #

    thank you for providing a sample of one of your albums complete. It’s beautiful!

  3. Posted January 16, 2012 at 8:16 am | #

    Thanks for posting the layouts. Love seeing how the theme carries on through the whole book. Sorry to hear about the issue hopefully mypictales can resolve them

  4. Stevie
    Posted January 21, 2012 at 10:47 pm | #

    I used MyPicTales for my 1st photobook, and had a lot of problems – I could not find any in-depth info on the website about how to use the software, my book was too large to upload, etc. However, the customer support was very good, and I was happy with the finished product.
    After using a couple other companies for photobooks, I have come to appreciate MyPicTales software more – I really liked the x and y coordinates, as well as the ability to completely customize each page. I just wish I could find some REAL instructions on the software – I feel like I could do so much with it, so much easier if I had some guidance. For instance, I had no idea you could add a photo OR text to the spine until I read it in your review…
    Also, it would be nice to be able to really have your pictures become opaque – as in, being able to see another picture through that picture, not just more white.
    Thanks for a good review!

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