© 2010 photobookgirl

Photobook America Review – Part I: Software Review and Helpful Tips



Update 5/17/2011: Wondering what Photobook America’s (Canada) photo lustre paper upgrade looks like?

Update 11/21/2010: The book is in!  Part II of my review on Photobook America book quality is up!

Update 11/09/2010: Want to see some sample layouts and learn how to create custom photo book templates? Here’s the tips you’re looking for when making your own Photobook America book.


As many of you may know, Photobook America is one of the photo book printing companies that has been offering huge discounts on their products through the group buying phenomenon known as Groupon.  The 70% off $35 for $115 Groupon has been offered in numerous cities across the U.S. and Canada recently and have caused quite a stir. (I bought 4 of them myself!) If you’re from up north, you may already be familiar with Photobook Canada – Photobook Malaysia and Photobook Australia round out the Photobook Worldwide group of companies.  Check out my main Photobook America page for a quick overview of Photobook America’s software features.  Click here to go to the Photobook America website to download the software.

Before I could get to using my Groupons, I was contacted by Photobook America to receive a complimentary $115 photo book to review for this site. The timing was perfect to make a photo book of the recent trip my husband and I took to Hawaii for the wedding of our good friends this past September!

This review will be in two parts. Part I will be on the software and Part II (to come) will be on the quality of the photo book after it arrives.


8″x 11″ portrait Imagewrap Hardcover
Currently 106 pages (base price of $65.00 includes 40 pages)
Approximately 315 photos (an average of 3 per page or 6 per spread)

The Software


  • Mac & PC compatible
  • Downloaded (versus online)
  • You can work offline until you are ready to upload your book
  • You cannot change your book style or size once you start your design
  • Offers a detailed 29-page user guide in PDF form for download
  • Supports JPG, JPEG, GIF, BMP, PNG, PICT/PCT, TIFF files
  • Use any font on your computer (yea!)
  • Uses European ISO Fogra 39 or European ISO Fogra 27 standard for monitor calibration if you’re concerned about color matching

Photobook America’s software called “Photobook Designer” is downloaded from its site and is compatible with both Mac and PC. The software is well designed and for the most part pretty intuitive, so I found it very easy to create my layouts and play around with them, but here are a few helpful tips…

Software Tips

  • Under the “Photobook America” drop down menu, set your “Preferences”.  If you’re in the U.S. you probably prefer inches to millimeters.  I also recommend selecting the “Constrain Proportions On New Picture/Shape Boxes” so that your photos keep their aspect ratios when you resize them. If you don’t want that setting to default on all your photos/boxes, then you can select that on a photo-by-photo basis in the picture toolbar on the right (click on the ruler icon).

Change Preferences at the top left drop down menu.

Here's my selections.

  • Divide up your project’s photos into separate folders before you start. I normally divide a vacation into days (day 1, day 2, day 3). Then add each folder/day at a time so you don’t have too many photos to look through.
  • Save often.  For some unknown reason, the software crashed on me a couple times, but it was easy to recover since I had saved frequently.  Had I not saved frequently, I would not be too happy.


  • After you use a photo, a red button shows that you’ve used the photo and how many times you used it
  • Sort your photos in many different ways – by date taken, picture usage, etc.
  • Duplicate your spreads for easy reuse on another spread (under “Page” pull down window)
  • Rearrange your spreads and insert blank spreads in between pages for flexibility (also under “Page” pull down window)
  • Easily copy a box or item so you don’t need to guess whether two boxes are the same size or have the same style attributes
  • The Fit to Page and Fit to Spread functions are always welcome. You can instantly fill the page with your photo or have a single photo stretch across both pages.
  • There are numerous options for photo containers – square, rectangular, circular, diamond shaped and unique “masks” such as hearts to change the shape of your photos
  • Rounded corners are easy to apply
  • Control the opacity of your photos for different effects
  • Pick any color for your background, using the color picker tool

How to pick a custom color from within a photo

***PLEASE NOTE: This particular feature and tutorial is applicable to Mac users only, not PC.***

The white background isn't doing it for me. I decided to match the color from the crab shell.

STEP 1: Click on the Page Background Tool and pick the page Left or Right that you want to modify. Select "Other"

STEP 2: You can choose any color and drag the color to the paint palette below to save it.

STEP 3: If you want to match a color with any color on your screen, click on the "magnifying glass" and then place the tool on the part of the photo you want to copy the color from and click "OK".

Here's the final layout with the color matched from the crab carapace.

  • The alignment tools are extremely helpful and very easy to use.  Hold shift to multi-select the boxes you want to line up and choose how you want to align them. No guessing!

Hold "Shift" and click on multiple objects to easily align the boxes or to apply any changes to all the items at once.

Right click to bring up the menu. Select how you want to line up your photo boxes.

Wish List

There wasn’t much I didn’t like about the design software!  I found it very flexible and easy to use – but here are some thoughts…

  • As with all the photo book companies, photo editing if needed is best done outside the program using an external program like Adobe Photoshop or one of the free online photo editing programs. The in-program tools allow you to rotate, flip, adjust brightness or contrast and add a vignette, but not much else.
  • If you don’t want to create your own templates, the selection of pre-made templates is pretty slim, but the layout tools are very easy to use so you should have no trouble making your own.
  • Besides the custom color backgrounds you can select, there are only 50 textured or patterned backgrounds available, which is fine for me cause I hardly ever use them. If you like using backgrounds however, you won’t find many provided, but you can easily load your own backgrounds and embellishments.

Design Tips/Features

  • Less is more – choose border or drop shadow, but not both
  • Keep captions or text well within the borders of the page, according to Photobook America, they trim 1/8 inch around the page
  • For consistency, choose one or two fonts at most for your book. Copy and paste your caption from the prior page so you know they are the same size
  • If you use the full-page bleed, (“Fit to Spread”) make sure that you don’t put the important part of the image in the gutter (the center of the spread). A photo of a landscape probably is safest.
  • Double check to make sure your items are aligned using the alignment tools
  • Keep in mind the size of the book and how many photos you are putting on a page. For this size book, I generally recommend 4 to 5 photos max. Less important photos can be put in smaller boxes. Give your best shots their own page or spread so they stand out.
  • Don’t be afraid to reuse a layout. A 100-page book does not need to have 100 different layouts! Duplicate a layout using that function under the “Page” drop down menu. Move it to the location you want using arrows under the “Rearrange” function. Then tweak it a bit here and there if you want to make it work with the photos you’re using.
  • Be efficient – hold down the “shift” key to select several items on a page to make changes to all the photos at the same time. So, if you want to add a drop shadow to all the photo boxes, then select all of them first and then make the change to apply the shadow to all the items at once.

Well, I’m almost done with this book and plan to send it off later tonight! Looking forward to finally seeing my finished photo book. And stay tuned for Part II of my review on print quality.

What features did you like or not like about Photobook America (or Photobook Canada)?  Share them below!

New to photo books?  Check out my multi-part in-depth series on how to make your own photo books online!

Looking for the latest Photobook America Groupon?  If there is one available, it will show up in our real-time photo book Groupon tracker below.




Be sure to check out my CANVAS DEALS!


  1. Zerlyn
    Posted November 7, 2010 at 8:39 pm | #

    Wow!! 106 pages?! I’ll bet that takes up lots of your time. 🙂
    Can’t wait for Part2.
    I’m leaving my Photobook America project aside first. I can’t stay loyal to my designs and changing it every few days. I figure I need a break from it.

  2. Zerlyn
    Posted November 9, 2010 at 12:21 am | #

    Hello PBG, do you know if they support color picker in Windows? I search in mine, but don’t see the option in the page background. I never know that it support that until I read this post.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted November 9, 2010 at 3:37 am | #

      Good question. I made a point of doing a little tutorial on it, because I couldn’t find it at first in the software. I didn’t find it in the PDF user guide from their site either. It’s not that easy to know where it is and took me a bit of searching. I’m so glad I found it though cause I was originally not that happy about being so limited on the background colors. Does your background color selector look like the one I put a screenshot of in my post? Feel free to send me a screenshot of the color tool on the PC version.

  3. Carla Siler
    Posted November 11, 2010 at 1:56 pm | #

    Love the way the alignment tool works! I wish some of the online editing programs had this!

  4. Vanja
    Posted November 12, 2010 at 11:29 am | #

    I really like their software. I received my first photobook about a week ago (I bought 2 groupons). I decided to go with the Debossed Hardcover book and wish that I did the Image Wrap instead. The image on the front is basically just glued to the leather and one of the corners seems not to be on there 100%. It’s only maybe 2mm that is not glued properly, but I’m afraid that over time it will ruin the photo and the whole thing will start to come off. I contacted PB America and sent them photos, I’m still waiting on a response. I opted for the premium paper and was happy with the quality of the photos. Overall, a very good book, next time I’m doing the Image wrap though.

  5. Gwen
    Posted November 17, 2010 at 1:03 pm | #

    I can’t wait till you post your review on the photobook itself! This is a company I’m really eager to try but would like to hear your input beforehand. Please post soon!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted November 17, 2010 at 1:40 pm | #

      Hi Gwen,

      I haven’t gotten the book yet! hahaha…I think it’s supposed to come tomorrow and then it I hope to get it up soon thereafter, probably over the weekend. 🙂 The software I liked a lot, so I hope the book lives up to the software!

  6. Nancy
    Posted January 25, 2011 at 7:34 am | #

    Very great tips! I am trying to figure out how to use the “Fit to Spread” function on a Mac. I know with a PC, you can right click to find this option Mac users can’t right click 🙁

    Thanks for your advice!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted January 25, 2011 at 1:47 pm | #

      Hi Nancy – I do all my books on a Mac! Macs are awesome! I can do a right click with my trackpad on my laptop and also on the newer mouses (or would that be mice?). But I believe I recall a pull down menu at the top left that has that function – but I’d have to go open the program on my other laptop to tell you for sure – I’m pretty sure it’s there though! I’ll look and report back. 🙂

    • Megan Jenkins
      Posted May 22, 2013 at 2:30 pm | #

      I know this comment may be a bit outdated, but you can program Macs to still have a right-click function, or, holding down Ctrl while clicking will bring up the menu as it would with a PC on a right-click!

  7. Robin
    Posted June 4, 2011 at 8:13 am | #

    Thank you for the helpful review. Your book looks great! I am building a book that mixes digital and scanned photos. I meticulously went into each scanned photo and set the “date taken” attribute. However PBA will only sort by the file date,not the date-taken attribute. I have 100’s of photos, so I will have to use another software, unless there is a way to sort by date-taken. Any ideas?

    • photobookgirl
      Posted June 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm | #

      If the program isn’t sorting things properly for you, you could rename each photo (Photo 1, Photo 2 etc…) and then sort by title, but that may be tedious. Another option that I do when making books is I upload my photos in batches, so it’s more manageable. That way you can have more control over the number and how things upload. So, say you have photos from May 2010 – upload those in a single batch and then lay them out. When you’re done, upload June 2010. I don’t know if that will keep your photos in exact order, but it should work. Even if it’s not precise, it should be more manageable.

  8. Elaine
    Posted June 21, 2011 at 11:11 am | #

    Hi PBG, I thought you might want to know that the color picker tool is for Mac users only. After a lengthy email exchange with Photobook America customer support, on June 10, 2011 I was sent the following quote: “The feature is only available on Mac computers and it is not available on PC’s”. As an FYI, for PC users the paint palette is shaped like a box.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted June 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm | #

      Yes, another reader had the same question and we found out as well that the color picker is Mac only…Thanks!

  9. Elaine
    Posted June 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm | #

    It would be great for pc users who are using your site for making decisions if you could mention right where you discuss the color picker tool that it is currently not available to them. I only suggest this because I’ve noticed in other parts of your website that you will share if some option is not available to one or the other (Mac/pc). At any rate, hopefully Photobook America will make it available to both soon! 🙂

    • photobookgirl
      Posted June 23, 2011 at 9:38 pm | #

      Since I don’t have a PC that is newer than 10 years old, at the time I wrote the post, I couldn’t tell that it was a Mac only option. I updated the post yesterday. Thanks.

  10. Elaine
    Posted June 26, 2011 at 8:38 am | #

    Thanks! Yeah, PhotoBookAmerica doesn’t make it clear to pc users either which tool/option works for whomever. After making a book with them, I can tell you that their 29 page manual is incomplete. It’s still a great guide though, given that the PBA software can do SO much. Aside from their tiny work space, and this color picker issue, I was able to basically make a fancy magazine-type product just to see how far the software would go. Thanks again!

  11. Mary K
    Posted August 10, 2011 at 6:18 pm | #

    What REALLY disapointed me is that you cannot use an external drive to move from computer to computer – I was thinking I could put the program on an external and then take it with me to work, cabin, etc. and work on it not having to be connected to the internet (cabin). In my opinion it is useless to have it not web based if you can’t download it and work on it whereever you want. Being tied to one computer/place is not really that helpful.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted August 11, 2011 at 12:47 am | #

      I have my book on an external drive – but from what I can tell, the location of the photos you use, need to be on the same external drive as well. Although it’s tedious, I have often copied full size photos to a single folder for easier upload and editing to the company (rather than leaving the photos in their original location say in iPhoto or whatever photo management you may be using). I agree with you than an easier way to accomplish that would be very, very welcome cause I really like their software.

  12. Mary
    Posted August 10, 2011 at 6:35 pm | #

    I think it is useless to have it be not web based if you can’t download/save it to an external drive and then upload and use another computer like moving between your office/home or laptop. Since they told me you can’t do this….. I would rather have it web based. You can transfer (apparently) by following a paragraph of instructions – but I could not get it to work and I’m fairly computer savy. The SAVE button needs a browse function to choose a pathway to your external – then it would be almost perfect!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted August 11, 2011 at 12:48 am | #

      Mary, if you don’t mind passing on the paragraph of instructions, I would be willing to give a shot to see if/how it works. 🙂

  13. Suzie
    Posted August 26, 2011 at 11:30 am | #

    Well, I’m in the middle of making my first Photobook America photobook and found this review very helpful. Unfortunately I don’t find the software as easy as Blurb’s to use. The main thing I miss that I was able to do with Blurb is being able to easily “move” a picture within the picture box so that I focus on a certain part of the picture (sometimes with Photobook Designer, I find that once I’ve moved the picture into the picture box, the part of the picture that I want to be more ‘centered’ isn’t, and I really can’t figure out how to center it short of cropping the picture with an outside tool and then reloading the pic into Photobook Designer.) Is there some easy way to do this that I’m missing?


    • Megan Jenkins
      Posted May 22, 2013 at 2:34 pm | #

      When you double-click a photo that is already on your layout, you can change the cropping, both how zoomed in the photo is, and, what part of the photo will be used.

  14. Hong
    Posted October 10, 2011 at 12:58 pm | #

    Have anyone has uploading problem with photobookamerica? Mine said it takes 54 hours and that doesn’t seem right. I spent 2 weeks making this book and i don’t want to have to start over.. argg.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted October 11, 2011 at 7:33 pm | #

      That definitely sounds unusual. Your book should be saved on your hard drive, so I would suggest backing up the file or create a duplicate copy in the program to be safe. I would suggest contacting customer support for help – you definitely don’t want to lose your hard work!

  15. Julie
    Posted January 7, 2012 at 12:07 pm | #

    I’m making my first photobook with Photobook America and having a terrible time with their software. Your book is beautiful, so it gives me hope, but so far I am hating the process compared to the other companies I’ve tried. I can’t find the user guide you mention anywhere on their site. Where can I find it? Thanks!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted January 7, 2012 at 9:58 pm | #

      Hi Julie,
      Photobook America is one of my favorites when it comes to software. They have just about everything you need when designing a layout and I don’t feel as limited as I do when using other companies. Any time I try a new company, there is a learning curve as each software program is different and the more features a program has, the more time you’ll have to spend to figure it out. So hang in there. I basically just start clicking on things willy nilly until I find what I want. The “undo” button is my best friend. There is a short guide here, but I don’t know if that will answer your question. They used to have a downloadable PDF guide, but I don’t see it on their site. If it is there I can’t find it anymore. I probably downloaded it on an old computer or I’d offer to email it to you. What I found was this: http://www.photobookamerica.com/get-started/quick-guide It probably has some of what was in the guide. Also, check out my other Photobook America posts including this one on layouts: http://www.photobookgirl.com/blog/top-tips-making-great-photo-book-templates-layouts-my-photobook-america-preview/

  16. Lorraine Loretz
    Posted January 17, 2012 at 9:18 pm | #

    Hi PBG, I have created my first book with Photobook America, 248 pg, 8.5 x 11 imagewrap. I am running into trouble and wonder if you have any ideas on this before I upload my book for printing. I have also sent this information and questions to PA.

    My photos are each 1.2 – 2.8 mb, 1200 x 2200 to 2900 x 3900 pixels, most at 280-314 dpi. All were shot with an 8 MP camera. A few of the files are 96 – 120 dpi, even
    though the pixels are around 2800 x 3800 with 2.6 mb. I am not sure why images with nearly the same pixels and mb’s have such different dpi’s (but this is another question!)

    My preview page images are excellent, ALL images are crisp and clear. There are 1 – 9 photos per page, depending on spread, and some ‘fit to spreads’.

    As they suggested, I created proofs (saved by their software in 72 dpi). The color, contrast and layouts are excellent. The images, however are blurry and pixelated. They are not at all like my preview pages. Nearly all the images are affected, even smaller 314 dpi images. I tried jpg and tiff versions of proofs, both same.

    Do you have any idea on how my book will print? I am very concerned about production results, especially after reading some negative user reviews regarding this same issue. I would like to create crisp proofs, like the ones you posted.

    I wanted to order this week to have the books (3 copies-with Groupons) by Feb 1 (they are gifts for my family members I am visiting). It is more important to me to solve the clarity issue; I can ship the books later if necessary.

    Thank you, I appreciate any and all of your sage advice.

    Lorraine Loretz

    • photobookgirl
      Posted January 17, 2012 at 10:04 pm | #

      Hi Lorraine,

      That sounds like an odd problem. The photos that you’re using – since you created the book, were they moved off the hard drive or were they accessed from somewhere else (not on the computer) or an external drive? I don’t know why you would have an issue with the proof otherwise. Does the book show a warning asking where the photos files are? I appreciate your confidence in me, but I’m not sure that I can know for sure unless I had the same issue. I would agree with you that getting a bad proof is not encouraging and I wouldn’t send the book in for printing until someone from customer support helps you. I don’t think it’s a DPI issue. Have you seen my post on that? http://www.photobookgirl.com/blog/how-to-make-your-own-digital-photo-book/ see post #6. I hope they can help you resolve the issue! Please let me know how it goes.

  17. Lorraine Loretz
    Posted January 17, 2012 at 10:27 pm | #

    Hi again, You are so fast!!! I found an older response regarding proofs from PA. They stated the proofs are not high resolution (no kidding!) They suggested that if doubtful, leave a note/comment with the order asking for a PDF before printing. The PDF will give a better idea of the printed quality. I think I will go ahead and try that, then let you know. In answer to above – the photos were never moved around, they are organized in files by book section. I did edit many of them with Paint Shop Pro (similar to Photoshop), some of them were cropped in. There were no warning symbols generated on check pages or proofs. I’ll let you know!

  18. Kerri
    Posted January 22, 2012 at 3:50 pm | #

    Lorraine, can you please let me know what occurs? I am having a similar problem. My photos are all professional quality and most of them look fantastic on the creation and preview screens. Some of them, however, look pixelated and blurry. One of them looks blurry only when zoomed out to the original picture size, but when zoomed in, it looks crisp and clear (totally opposite of what I would expect!). Thanks for the great blog photobookgirl!

  19. Brigitta
    Posted March 14, 2012 at 12:43 pm | #

    Your book looks beautiful! I am crossing my fingers, I ordered last night. I have to agree completely with Julie. I found the PC version of the software extremely frustrating and not the least bit user friendly.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted March 14, 2012 at 9:21 pm | #

      Hmmm…makes me wonder what the difference is between the PC and Mac versions? The program has a lot of features and I agree that there is not much instruction on how to use it. (I think way back they had a PDF document that you could download that showed some of the features of the software but I don’t see it on the site unless I’m looking in the wrong place.) I don’t have a PC that is up to date, but I’m really curious to know what the difference is now. Maybe I’ll find someone who does and give it a try…

  20. Posted April 18, 2012 at 5:18 pm | #

    You mention 50 textured backgrounds, I only see (on PC) 18, and none as nice or useful as I’ve experienced on Picaboo. Why am I only seeing so few? I don’t use them often – usually black or photo to fit, but every now and then I have a need for a nice textured linen or leather-look. I miss this! Especially when no color-match option on PC.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted April 18, 2012 at 9:29 pm | #

      I guess they must have taken some out since the time I wrote my review. I’ve heard that they are going to be doing a software update so let’s see what changes are implemented. If you have your own backgrounds you can upload them. I’ve found that it’s very easy to add my own clip art and elements. Click on the “digital scrapbooking” category on the main blog page and you’ll see where I got a lot of print quality freebies. Yes, the color picker option is awesome on the Mac. They should make that for the PC as well…

      • Posted April 30, 2012 at 3:07 pm | #

        My work’s done – anxiously awaiting finished product. A little disappointed it ships from Malaysia and is not USA-made. Guess that’s why shipping so $$. This was my 25th book from 4 companies – Shutterfly, Picaboo, Blurb the others. I found Ph Amer to have the least intuitive software, and easily the most expensive (even WITH my groupons). Also – I wanted a square book in 2 sizes. Can’t order like this through them, actually have to remake the book! I have high expectations for the book quality – if it doesn’t blow me away, I won’t use them again.

        • photobookgirl
          Posted May 1, 2012 at 11:57 am | #

          I believe the books used to be printed in Canada, but I heard from customer service that now with the volume of orders they are being produced at the Malaysia center as that’s a larger facility. I’ve seen several folks comment that the software is hard to use, but I’ve found it to be one of the most flexible and feature packed photo book software programs out there. They perhaps need better documentation or guide to show how to use it cause I can see why it might be not as intuitive. I agree with you that companies should make it easier to order in different sizes when the ratios are the same. Shutterfly even allows you to do that with different ratios. It would be great if other companies would have that flexibility too! It would be great if you came back to give your thoughts on the finished product. Best!

          • Kelly
            Posted May 3, 2012 at 7:38 am | #

            I will! Just received my 11×11 book (shipping time very quick for coming from Malaysia). I was so frustrated at having to redo the whole thing through Photobook Amer for the smaller size copy, I decided to make the smaller one through Picaboo. I’ll wait for the second one to come in, then compare the 2 under your PA quality review notes. Thanks for all your tips!

  21. Frustrated
    Posted May 24, 2012 at 12:27 am | #

    Photobook Canada has terrible or rather non-existent customer service. I bought a Groupon to try them out and spent over 4 months putting my book together (I’m a full time working mom and only get a few hours in late hours of the night to be able to scrapbook the memories of my children) I clicked the order button only to find a huge list of errors with my pages (lower resolution images which I used as backgrounds) that prevented the book from being uploaded for ordering. I thought ok, I’m fine with this as these are only backgrounds, but it would not let me proceed to order my book without having to completely redesign each page! Very devastating after having spent so much time on creating a book. I sent an email to their support centre that night asking them to please contact me as soon as possible to advise on how to bypass this, because my groupon was expiring in a few days and I needed to get my book ordered. The next day I phoned during work hours and left a message hoping to speak with someone with no avail. That night I tried to chat online with someone but the chat line was offline. I phoned the next day to encounter a voice message on stating that their telephone support system was unavailable. So I sent another email that night requesting someone phone me. Today I received an email with no contact person stating that I should try again and that there were probably other reasons beyond low resolution images that were preventing it from being ordered. In good faith I did it again and to no surprise, the same thing happened. The same error message. I advised them accordingly and still have not heard back. My groupon has expired and I have just wasted 4 months worth of evenings that I could have been using some other photo sites that works! Don’t use them; they don’t care and don’t support their customers.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted May 29, 2012 at 11:45 pm | #

      The issue you had sounds so strange – probably a glitch in the software. I don’t know if you want to give it another shot, but if you ask them, they should give you an extension on your Groupon so you can get full value. From my experience, contacting them through their Facebook page may get you better response and maybe some help if they can figure out what went wrong. I hope it works out!

  22. Cherie
    Posted July 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm | #

    I bought this groupon too and was disappointed to find that 1)if I decide to change types/size of books I have to start all over, and 2) that there is a 40% off sale, so with my groupon I’ve saved a whole $4. I’ve not done this before and didn’t realize that the definitions for page numbers and ‘multiple’ is different than in real life. I actually put together 2 books, but they will only let me use the voucher for one. Big disappointment. I’ve written to groupon to complain.

  23. Brionne
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 9:15 am | #

    Not sure which post it was, but you mentioned being able to use our own fonts? I tried using one of my newer fonts and it said that it wasn’t found, and would switch to a (much plainer/not at all what I was looking for) different font. Any tips on using a different font?


    Ps your reviews are super helpful! It made me less anxious about using PBA.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted August 1, 2012 at 12:51 am | #

      Hi Brionne,

      You should be able to use your own fonts, but I don’t know if this has happened to you before, but sometimes fonts that you download from the internet can be incomplete or damaged in some way which may make them incompatible with some photo book software. That’s my only guess. Maybe you can find another version of the font you want to use and redownload it?

      • Brionne
        Posted August 1, 2012 at 8:49 pm | #

        I quit and restarted the program. It worked like a charm.

        • photobookgirl
          Posted August 3, 2012 at 11:54 am | #

          That is always a good thing to try 🙂

  24. Lynn
    Posted August 7, 2012 at 6:56 pm | #

    Nearly done with my first book with this company. Wanted to thank you publicly, Photobookgirl, for your support on several of my questions. I did figure out how to turn photos and graphics at an angle to add interest. However, I could not get text boxes to be turned on an angle. Finally went to their Live Chat and got a rep. who admitted that you cannot do text boxes on a 45 degree or any other angle. Only horizontal or vertical. Have one two more questions for all of you: How long does it take to upload a book? Also, if your groupon expires on Aug. 8, for example, is it due by 11:55 pm Aug 7? or during the day Aug. 8? I have not been able to get another Live Chat person.


    • photobookgirl
      Posted August 7, 2012 at 10:38 pm | #

      No problem Lynn. About the text, yes you can’t do any angle but straight angles – so 0, 90, 180 etc. I don’t see why it would be so hard for the software to allow for 45 degree angles or anywhere in between. I can’t remember the order process, but I think as long as you start the upload prior to the deadline you’re okay, because you’ve entered and paid already before the upload starts, if I recall correctly. it’s been a while since I ordered. If you run into issues, contact customer service and tell them your upload was begun prior to the expiration – I can’t say for 100% sure, but they should help you out and get the order through.

  25. Chas Jones
    Posted August 15, 2012 at 4:20 pm | #

    Just to add a few points which may or may not have been mentioned previously. Once a user defines a project in the software (i.e. size and type of book), you cannot change it, without restarting the entire photobook design process. I had no problems using the software except for this aspect. I created 3 50-page photobooks in 5 hours (which included changing their size and having to recreate each of them). It is interesting that the Photobooks are shipped directly from Malaysia. Mine were shipped today, so I haven’t seen the finished product.

  26. Mary Jo
    Posted August 30, 2012 at 1:39 pm | #

    I’d have to agree with comments that the software really could use some work. While it’s fairly flexible in terms of layouts, the photo framing and adjustment is just horrible. I shouldn’t have to jump out of the software and change the crop on a photo just to get it positioned the way I want it inside a frame, but their software just makes this so difficult, that often is just the easiest way to deal with it. I also really miss having the ability to just copy the border style from one photo to another. Since it won’t do this, I end up having to copy the entire photo with its border and shadow styles, and then resize it for a new photo. There should be a better way to do this. Personally I’ll stick with Picaboo or Blurb in the future, they both have far better software than this.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted August 30, 2012 at 2:42 pm | #

      Hi Mary Jo, I’m not sure if I understand what you mean about jumping outside the software to change the crop. Do you mean that you have to use outside software to adjust the crop of your photos or you mean that you don’t like going into the crop picture mode? When I want to crop, I just double click on the photo and it allows me to position the crop any way I want and/or drag the corner tool to zoom in on the photo. Is that what you’re referring to? I also use “fit to box” and “fit to picture” at lot to get instant adjustments. I agree with you that it would be nice to be able to do global adjustments (like set the border and shadow on one box and have it carry throughout). I just do the copy and paste. Often since my pages are laid out similarly, I just copy a prior whole layout and then do tweaks to make them fit the photos.

      I can’t recall on Picaboo, but what I miss in Blurb are rounded corners. It’s a design element I really like so I wish you could get different container shapes in Blurb. Each software has its quirks. I wish I could build my own and get it exactly the way I want!

  27. MK
    Posted September 9, 2012 at 7:52 pm | #

    Have used picaboo before. Hugely dissapointed with photobook software… Will not use again.

    1. Not intuitive
    2. Missing a ton of features compared to picaboo
    3. They do not offer flat pages

    Too bad I dint check before buying the groupon. I’d rather use picaboo full price than photobook america groupon price.

  28. Janell Martin
    Posted October 15, 2012 at 10:43 am | #

    I must be missing something on the Photobook America software because I’ve got an issue that is driving me nuts. When I try to rearrange pages, I can’t just move and individual page, I have to move the 2 page spread. For example, if I now want pages 5 and 9 to be together and 4 and 15 to be together, I can’t separate the page 4-5 spread to make this happen.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted October 17, 2012 at 10:51 pm | #

      I think you may only be able to move spreads and not pages. You could hold shift and click on every element on the page to select then right click copy then paste. That’s not a perfect solution, but it will give you a shortcut instead of redoing 🙂

  29. Fred Haider
    Posted November 27, 2012 at 10:13 am | #

    Thanks for creating this review. One piece of advise for Photobook America is they should have a representative monitor reported issues listed on your site and help you answer questions and explain how to proceed. I have not downloaded the software yet and hope that they have a FAQ section – they should include questions listed here on that as well. Too bad documentation is sparse. Wonder if any video’s on techniques are available on you tube.

    Again thanks for your time. I definitely will bookmark this page.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted November 29, 2012 at 1:23 pm | #

      Yes, I agree with you! 🙂

  30. Christine Go
    Posted February 4, 2013 at 11:58 pm | #

    Hi, my pictues have a resolution of 3456×2592 with dpi 72. Is that ok to put on the cover which will be 22×11 because my photobook is 11×11? Or should I do one picture in the front and another on the back? I’d rather do one whole picture for both as I have an amazing picture i want to use. If the resolution or dpi is too low what can i do?

    • photobookgirl
      Posted February 5, 2013 at 2:11 am | #

      The software will give you a warning – I think it will probably not be large enough. You could try to increase the resolution in a photo editing program. I think you can probably do an online search and there are tutorials which will show you how to do that. I have my post on resolution which I think I sent to you? Did that help? I typically have used two different images if I do a larger book like that.

      • Posted February 5, 2013 at 9:47 am | #

        Hi! Thanks for your advice. Yes I read your post and it tells me to ignore the 72 dpi which I did, however, looking at your chart the acceptable size is only 15.3×11.5 inches. That’s too small since mine will be 22×11. So I need to make the image bigger, right? and the resolution 300dpi. In my Preview tool it has the same exact screen as the one in your blog about the resolution. The one where you circled 72 resolution in the picture with the cactus. So to adjust the size I will type in that same box the width and length under document size and change the resolution to 300 dpi? The size doesn’t really come out exactly 22×11 but i guess as long as it’s a little bigger than that i guess it should be ok? Then I save it and drag that picture into the cover and that’s it?

        • photobookgirl
          Posted February 5, 2013 at 5:10 pm | #

          I can’t tell you for sure that it would be okay. You could try it and see if it looks okay in the preview and if you get a warning. For book sizes bigger than 8.5 x 11 I typically use two different photos. It does force me to change what I’d rather do, but it depends if you want to take the risk or not.

          • Posted February 6, 2013 at 2:44 am | #

            Hi, I changed my resolution to 300 dpi in the Preview Application in my Mac where you can edit pictures and changed the size to 23×12 (i need 22×11 but these are the dimensions that come out). So now in the picture list of Photobook it shows that picture’s resolution at 6900×3663. I would think that would be clear when the photobook is printed, right?

  31. Michael
    Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:25 pm | #

    I was wondering if you could assist me with an issue I seem to be having. While using the Photobook America Designer I rotate the pictures correctly and everything looks correct. However, when I do a preview my photos are rotated the wrong way. Can you tell me what I am doing wrong? The preview is how the final book will be printed, correct? Thank you

    • photobookgirl
      Posted February 25, 2013 at 10:37 pm | #

      It sounds like it should be pretty straightforward, so I’m assuming it must be a software glitch. Sorry I don’t know that I can help you with something as it doesn’t seem like you’re doing anything wrong. Are you far into the project at this point? I may suggest duplicating the book as a backup to be safe and then perhaps making sure you have the latest updated software and possibly rebooting your computer. If that doesn’t work, I would contact the company to see if anyone else has reported this issue. I haven’t had this happen to me before. Sorry, I’m stumped!

  32. Charlene
    Posted January 11, 2014 at 1:19 pm | #

    I made and ordered some photobooks from Photobook America at the first of December 2013. Not only have I not received them but after ordering and checking the photobook pages I made – there are a couple of places that the photos were screwed up. All I get back from the support team is an automated reply and nothing else. I have purchased more photobook coupons from them and now worried that I have wasted my money and time.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted January 15, 2014 at 2:10 am | #

      That’s a long time not to have your books – do you know why they are so late? Have you tried posting on the Photobook Worldwide Facebook page?

  33. lisa
    Posted January 22, 2014 at 7:42 pm | #

    Other books that I have made have a “shuffle pictures” option that will shuffle your pics around the preset layouts until the one you want say in the big slot is there. I can’t find a way to do this! I have to go back and reput the pics in myself. I also can’t find a way to put the pics in folders once they are uploaded so it takes me forever to rearrange the pics every time. Any thoughts? I have ordered and received 2 books from them that are great quality even though I really hate using their software.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted January 23, 2014 at 4:20 pm | #

      I actually really like their software because of all the features it has. About the first one, I’ve never tried that before with other companies, so I haven’t missed it. Maybe I’m too picky though and I usually place each photo on my own. I think what may be helpful about organizing photos is to do it before you upload them and then only upload each set of photos you are working on. Basically doing it in batches so you don’t have to look through all of the photos to find what you’re looking for. So, sometimes, I may load only day 1 of my trip to work on first and once I’ve placed all those, I’ll load the folder of day 2. Does that help? 🙂

  34. Zawani
    Posted July 29, 2014 at 12:58 am | #

    Hi i keep on getting Out of bound exception message on photobook designer and then the application will shut down. What is the problem? I tried re-installing the software but it didnt resolve the problem.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted August 11, 2014 at 11:45 pm | #

      Sorry I’m not equipped to answer technical questions – did you try the company’s customer service?

  35. Jen
    Posted November 3, 2015 at 1:19 am | #

    Hi there, I am making my wedding album using the professional series. I picked a few layout options that weren’t “white” in background. I cannot seem to figure out how to make them white. None of the back ground options have a plain white option. As this is a wedding album I wanted to keep it slick looking. I’ve come across your blog and thought you might be able to help.

  36. Edina
    Posted February 11, 2016 at 2:48 am | #

    Could you let me how you did on the crab picture that only the left part of the picture is opal? thank you.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 5:19 pm | #

      Hi Edina,

      I think I just created a picture box then went to the settings to make the background white and then lowered the opacity to something less than 100%. It’s just a photo box without a photo dropped into it. Hope that makes sense?

  37. Stacy
    Posted April 29, 2016 at 6:42 pm | #

    Thanks photobookgirl for your awesome website and great information! I’m trying to use the custom background color option but I’m not seeing the magnifying glass as shown in your picture. I’m using the Mac software, do you know if this option was removed? I’ve also emailed PB America to ask them as well. Thanks!

  38. stacy
    Posted May 4, 2016 at 7:57 pm | #

    Hi! I’m not sure if my post got deleted? I was trying to find the custom color from a photo option but I don’t see the magnifying glass in my software (I use a Mac). Do you know if this is still an option on the most recent software? Thanks!

    • photobookgirl
      Posted June 1, 2016 at 2:33 am | #

      Hi Stacy, I still see it in my version of the software which should be the latest. I found it using the same method as outlined in the post. It’s still there and it allowed me to click on the magnifying glass. It says version 4.2.1 on the bottom of the application home page. Hope you were able to find it! Regards!

  39. Caroline
    Posted July 1, 2017 at 4:20 pm | #

    I’ve put together my book, followed the steps for payment and received my confirmation email with order # and instructions how to upload. But I’m not getting an upload option. When I open the software, existing project says order in progress, I press complete order, click box to agree to terms then when the web browser opens I log in and it takes me to shopping cart where it’s asking for payment again???? Any suggestions? The payment went through last week and I’ve been getting the instructions to upload everyday as a reminder.

    • photobookgirl
      Posted August 21, 2017 at 8:44 pm | #

      Sorry for the late response. Things like these are probably computer glitches. If you can save, close the program all the way and then reopen it, sometimes that helps clear the issue. Hope you got it resolved.

  40. shirley stirling
    Posted September 26, 2018 at 8:25 am | #

    I bought the groupon, but now realize that I prefer to work in indesign. Can I create a page in another software and then upload a page at a time into photobook as a pdf? Or does photobook allow pdf in addition to jpg?

    • photobookgirl
      Posted September 26, 2018 at 10:02 pm | #

      I use outside software too. Just export each page as a jpeg. Easy. 🙂

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