Reviews of Photo Book Printers - Glossary and Definition of Terms

Below is a glossary of terms that will help explain what aspects of a company’s book creation software I surveyed to come up with the photo book publisher’s profile review.

The criteria I looked at ranged from basic specifications such as whether the publisher offers hardcover or softcover books, to more specific features such as whether you can fully customize layouts or whether you are limited to the layouts provided by the company. The charts are meant to give you a quick overview of the company and its software, while the photo book reviews focus on the user-friendliness of the software, as well as highlights of some of that company’s unique features.

You’ll also find a link to the latest deals and a link to a list of every photo book on the publisher’s photo book review page.

If I have printed a photo book with that company before, you will also find links to more in-depth reviews via my blog.

Now that you’ve learned the lingo, head over to the Photo Book Review page!

Glossary / Definition of Terms

Book Type The two main types of photo books are hardcover books and softcover books.
Book Shape Portrait, Landscape, or Square
Types of Covers Full photo cover - features a photo of your choice printed directly onto the surface of the book.

Die-cut or window or keyhole cover - features a cut out where your selected photo appears. Cover material is typically linen, leather, metal.

No photo - features just the material of the cover, and may or may not allow for titling.

Dust jacket - usually a full photo cover not printed on the surface of the cover but as a separate removable coated paper enclosure
Min/Max Pages Most companies provide a minimum 20 pages (10 sheets of paper printed on both sides). The maximum number of pages depends on the company and type of book selected.
Paper Most companies use archival quality, fade resistant paper. The interior pages are typically printed on 100 lb. paper. 100 lb. paper refers to the weight of 500 sheets of a standardized size of that type of paper. Comparing a 100 lb. paper of one type to another 100 lb. paper may not be exact however. 100 lb. text and 100 lb. cover paper is not equivalent. Cover paper is typically thicker and heavier in weight than text paper.
Binding Perfect Binding – used for softcover books, the pages are glued to the cover

Saddle Stitched – pages are folded and stapled to the cover down the center of the book

Spiral Bound – typically used for casual more affordable type books – can be held together using a plastic comb, plastic spiral or wire loops. Pages will lay flat

Case binding – most common type of binding for hardcover books, it involves wrapping a hard case around either an adhesive-bound or sewn book.

Lay Flat – hinged binding that allows the pages to lie completely flat, so you don’t lose the image in the gutter/spine. Some may feature two separate pages hinged at the middle, others may be a single sheet folded in the middle.

Post Bound - an album that has 2 to 3 metal posts with flat head screws down the center that can be removed to add, remove or rearrange pages.
Lay Flat Lay Flat – hinged binding that allows the pages to lie completely flat, so you don't have to hold down the pages while viewing it. Some lay flat albums have a very narrow gutter while some have no gutter so you don't lose any of the image in the spine of the book. Some may feature two separate pages hinged at the middle, while others may be a single sheet folded in the middle. A coil or wire-bound book can also lay flat.
Fully Customizable Layouts Software that allows user to create new layouts or alter provided layouts. Photos boxes can be added and resized, captions added anywhere on the page, backgrounds can be added or removed.
Themes Some companies provide an easy way to put together a photo book related to a particular event, or concept - popular topics are Birthdays, Baby, Weddings, Travel, Sports. Features backgrounds and often clip art that relate to the theme.
Layouts/Templates Preset groupings of photos and often captions. Gives you a predefined space to place photos. Generally grouped by number of photos you wish to place on the page.
Backgrounds Normally part of a theme, can be solid colors or patterns and sometimes your own photo.
Image as Background Allows you to choose your own photo as the backdrop to the page and possibly the option to place other smaller photos on top of your photo.
Full Photo Cover Also called "custom cover" by several companies. Allows you to pick your own photo to fully cover the front of the book from edge to edge.
Customizable Spine Where the title of the book is normally printed, on the left edge of the cover. What would be visible when you display the book on a bookshelf. Gives book more of a "real book" feel. Typically only available for hardcover books.
Full Photo Back Cover May or not be available along with "Full Photo Cover". Sometimes a separate image is allowed for the back cover which fully extends from edge to edge. Some allow you to stretch a single image across the front cover, spine and back cover.
Full Page Bleed Allows you to have a photo extend to cover the whole page without a frame or border. Printing goes right up to the edge of the paper.
Captions/Fonts Allows you to add a narrative to your photos. Various font choices and color choices may be available.
Embellishments Popular with digital scrapbookers, also known as stickers or clip art. Some companies only offer borders and frames for your photos, while others have a full range of buttons, flowers, and other do-dads that fit a variety of themes.
Mac/PC All companies have software compatible with PC as that is most common platform used. Not all have Mac versions of their software available.
Download or Online Some companies allow you to build your book online, which can be saved and later accessed. You upload your photos first and then design your book. Other companies require you to download their software and the book is built and saved on your computer. You later upload your book for purchase when you finish your book design. One advantage for online software is that you can work on your book anywhere you have an internet connection. An advantage of downloaded software is that you can work on your book regardless of whether you can connect to the internet.
Special Photo Importing Some companies offer special photo importing from popular programs such as Flickr and Facebook. All offer uploading directly from photos stored on your computer.
Share Online Some companies allow you to share your book with friends and family and even the public at large. You can do this by using their program to upload to blogs, Facebook and other sites. Alternatively some companies allow you to email those you want to share your book and provide a password to view your book on their site.
Sell Online Some companies allow you to sell copies of your book to friends and family or the general public. Greatly expands the power of self-publishing.
Collaboration Allows you to create a photo book together with groups of people. Users can upload photos to the collective project.
Logo Some companies will print their logo on the back cover or on the last page inside the book. Some allow you to pay a fee to remove the logo. May be important for those who want to resell the book such as photographers.
Photo Editing in Program Alter photos within the program. Common tools include rotate, zoom, red-eye removal, crop, convert to b&w or sepia. Some have a one-touch "enhance" or "magic" button which will generally brighten and boost the contrast of your photo.
Digital Scrapbooking Compatible If a company offers a square format book (normally 8x8 or 12x12), I considered it to be digiscrap friendly. In many cases digital scrapbookers create complete pages in an external program and then upload the PDF or jpeg pages into the photo book publisher's software. Some companies have tools within their software that may appeal to scrapbookers such as textured backgrounds and other embellishments. Some allow you to upload your own clip art in PNG format.