Montage is a new product with a new interface brought to you from the folks at Mixbook. Both Montage and Mixbook photo books are created via online software, but the interfaces are completely different. Montage will appeal most to those who want to make a modern streamlined photo book with minimal effort as it automatically places your photos into one of several preset layouts. It’s a great product to get your feet wet if you’re new to photo books and don’t want to make a lot of design decisions. I was provided with a complimentary book for purposes of this review and Montage is sponsoring this giveaway post for a chance to win a Montage of your own!
Photo Book Offerings
(UPDATE 12/2015: Montage’s price structure has changed since the time of this review. Currently there are 4 book sizes priced at a minimum 20 pages. Additional pages start at $1.00 per page and vary according to book size and paper choice. Silver halide photo paper is another available option. Please see Montage’s site for current pricing.)
As Montage’s goal is to make photo book creation easier, the pricing structure is simplified as well with only 3 sizes and 3 fixed prices no matter how many pages (up to 70) are in your book. You can have a maximum of 180 photos. Only square format books are offered.
Here’s the stats on my Montage Book:
|Book size:||8.5 x 8.5″ square (width x height)|
|Cover:||Eco-Friendly Leather with collage|
|Paper Type:||Silk, semi-gloss 120 lb. paper, acid and lignin free, fused to stiff cardboard core|
|Binding:||lay-flat, folded, seamless|
|Price:||$59.00 + $7.00 (standard shipping to US) = $66.00 (complimentary credit for purposes of review)|
Here’s an overview of how the process works:
1) Select your photos from your computer;
2) Click on the button “Create my Montage”;
The process to upload your photos runs pretty fast although it depends on your Internet speed.
3) Choose a theme for your book (currently there are 13 different background themes);
4) The software automatically lays out all the photos you’ve uploaded into various preset templates;
5) Preview your book.
At this point you could be done with your book if you don’t have any changes or don’t want to add any captions. Options for changing the layouts allow you to replace photos, delete photos, add photos or rearrange them. A single “Change Layout” button toggles you through about a dozen variations. It’s convenient to be able to click one button and have it scroll through all the variations efficiently. All the photo boxes feature very slightly rounded corners. I’m a fan of rounded corners myself and will often add them if I have the option, so this is a welcome design enhancement for me. Additionally as always, I’m glad to see an “undo” and “redo” button!
Regarding captions, there is a 120 word per text box limit and only one text box per spread. The font choice, size and alignment are predetermined and the software does not allow for a page with just text.
Here’s some additional information on Montage books:
Book Construction & Print Quality
Montage books are pretty different from the standard photo books you may be used to. It features an eco-friendly leather cover, which I assume to mean it’s not real leather, but it still feels nice. It’s also padded with high-density foam which gives the outside of the book a soft cushy feel. The inside cover pages are fused to the book, and feature a grey tone collage of the photos you’ve included in the book which is a nice feature.
The pages are much thicker than the average photo book which is typically 100 lb. paper. It’s hard to compare apples to apples here since the pages are fused onto a thick lay flat core. The pages do flex but would be hard to bend unless done intentionally. There is a hard cardboard core in between the pages so they feel somewhere in between a standard photo book with regular pages and a flush mount which has an unbendable thicker core than the Montage book. In addition to being a lay flat book, there is no gutter in the center of the spread as the spread consists of a single folded sheet, so your design can extend across both pages without losing any of the image in the middle. Many of the pre-designed layouts have images that cross over the center.
The interior pages of the Montage book appear to be the same as Mixbook’s lay flat photo books. The process of making your book however is completely different as described above.
Overall the print quality was good. The color was true to the originals and I like that the finish is not matte, nor is it glossy. It’s in between which I prefer.
The book comes in a white presentation box with Montage’s logo on the cover. The only other branding I see on the book itself is an embossed logo on the back leather cover. I’m glad there’s no bar code on the book which is always distracting. There is a bar code sticker on the presentation box which looks to be easy to remove. Overall the branding is fairly subtle.
Montage seeks to make the photo book making process more painless. With that however comes some limitations on placement and text, but that’s to be expected in exchange for the streamlined process. If you’re the type that wants to have control over every aspect of the design process, you will find it a bit restrictive, but if you’re either new to the photo book making process, or are seeking an easier way to get those photos off your hard drive, this product may be just right for you. The choices you are required to make are very few and auto placement of the photos does make it a much quicker process than placing each photo one-by-one. Alternatively, if you want a more options for layouts and text and want to be in full control, I’d recommend Montage’s older sibling – Mixbook. Mixbook has some of the most flexible software available and their lay flat photo book may be more for you.
In terms of cost, the Montage book is very reasonably priced. Most companies charge a premium for lay flat pages which comes standard with Montage and to get a 70-page lay flat book with other photo book companies is almost double the cost. To get the most for your money, try to get as close to 70 pages as you can since it will cost the same whether you have 20 pages or 70 pages. If you don’t have a lot of photos, stretch it out by opting for more one-photo spreads.
This type of book with auto-placement of photos works best for single-event content like a birthday party, graduation, a vacation, or a single topic (like a tribute to a family member) rather than a year in review type book which may have photos from many different events throughout the year. The layouts just lend itself more to a single topic or event in my opinion – that’s why I chose Photo Book Baby’s 30-day birthday party (a Chinese tradition) as the topic for this book. Doesn’t he look cute in his traditional garb?
Enter for a chance to win one (1) Medium 8.5 x 8.5″ or one (1) Small 6 x 6″ Montage photo book with up to 70 pages and presentation box! Three (3) Medium prizes and two (2) Small prizes available for a total of approximately $260.00 in prizes!
You have 5 possible ways to enter, but you must do the REQUIRED ENTRY for the others to count. For EACH entry, you have to COMMENT ON THIS POST below with a separate comment for EACH entry, telling me what type of entry you did.
- Check out Montage’s photo books and come back here to comment below – IF YOU WON THIS PRIZE, WHAT WOULD BE THE TOPIC OF YOUR BOOK? Wedding, baby, travel etc…
- Subscribe to my newsletter (look for light blue box at top right) AND tell me in the comment below that you subscribed and the name you subscribed under (first name is fine). If you already subscribe to my newsletter, tell me in your comment and give me your name. (Please remember for it to count, you must confirm the subscription. Sorry RSS doesn’t count);
- “Like” me on Facebook (if you are already a fan, or become a new fan, tell me your Facebook name in the comment form);
- “Like” Montage on Facebook (if you are already a fan, or become a fan, tell me your Facebook name in the comment form);
- Give your review of any photo book/canvas company you’ve tried on the company’s main reviews page. (Click here to give a canvas print review). Click on the “Read Review” button. Scroll down towards the middle of the page after the Quick Specs Chart and you’ll see a place to add your review for that company. Let me know which company you commented on by telling me in a comment in this post below. (Limit to two (2) entries using this method. Reviews given prior to the start of this Giveaway don’t count – they must be new ones please!).
Make sure to do the REQUIRED ENTRY!
This giveaway is open to anyone 18 or older. No country restrictions (so it’s international but please check if Montage ships to your country if you have any doubts). Void where prohibited. Void in Quebec. Entries must be received by Monday, December 1, at 11:59pm CT and any entries not in accordance with the rules will be disqualified at our sole discretion and at the discretion of the sponsor. Winning entry or entries will be chosen using Random.org. After compiling the results, I will announce the winner(s) thereafter and will email the winner(s) and post the name(s) on my site. The winner(s) will have 48 hours to respond or I will redraw another entry. A Canadian winner(s) may be asked to answer a skill question to be eligible, to comply with Canadian laws. Winner(s) will be issued a gift code or voucher. Shipping varies by location and taxes may apply – see Montage’s site for details. Disclosure: I am an affiliate of the company. The links on these pages go to the company’s site. If you click on a link to Montage’s site and make a purchase, I may receive a referral fee from the company. This giveaway is sponsored by Montage. Regardless of affiliation my opinions are always my own and I always give my honest opinion.
BEST OF LUCK TO EVERYONE!