Your best options for digital photobooks

Jennifer Wilson

I’m your guide here at Simple Scrapper. Our community helps people find what fills you up and fits your life in memory keeping.

March 10, 2010

Photobooks can be the minimalist’s best friend as well as the sidekick to the most embellishment-loving scrapper. They bring stories together in a permanent, cohesive way for storing and sharing.

There are a few ways to go about making a digital photobook and this post will organize the approaches in two ways.

The DIY Approach

This method involves sending files of your own creation off for printing in a bound format. These files can be regular digital scrapbook pages or pages creating using templates designed specifically for photobooks.

Photobook from Artscow

Printing Options

There are not a huge number of options for printing full-bleed scrapbook layouts in a bound photobook. Some of the most well-known include:

Persnickety Prints is an additional, newer option. While their regular scrapbook pages are printed on-site in Utah, they outsource their book printing to an expert in Minnesota. I’m eager to see how this option compares with some of others.

Template Options

The market for photobook templates is on the rise. I’m seeing more and more minimalist templates that mimic the black or white background offerings within the All-in-One options listed below.

There are also an increasing number of album kits designed to the specs for particular book printer. A few options include:

Off to Press templates from Paislee Press

Templates photography vol.3 by bisontine


Shutterfly Toolkit: 8×8 v2.0
by Wendyzine Scraps

The All-in-One Approach

More commonly available are services that allow you to upload photos and use pre-made page templates to arrange your book. I’ve listed a few options below, but the range of options these days is quite large.

Photobook from My Publisher

This month we’re spreading the love for 21 ways to tell your story. Photobooks are #5. How are you telling your story?

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53 Comments

  1. Karidan

    I love photobooks and have made some for mothers day for my mother… I have done both ways where I just click and drag pictures and I have made the pages and uploaded them. I like both ways depending on how much time I do have. I print through Scrappingsimply.com LOVE THEM!! Colors are great and they dont cut anything off your pages!!!

    Reply
  2. RKSP

    I’ve done photobooks both way (using their templates and using my own scrapbook pages), and while using their templates can be super fast and look very nice, I LOVE the way that my photobook made up of my own scrapbook pages turned out! It was so nice to make truly custom baby book pages for my child. I used Photoworks to print my pages (8×8) into a photobook. I chose them because the pages are stitched, not glued, at the spine, which makes a huge difference in longevity if your toddler will be going through the book daily! Artscow also uses stitched bindings, but their colors were atrocious in the (free) book I ordered from them, and I will never use them again for anything! The colors from Photoworks looked great, exactly what I expected.

    Reply
  3. Abby

    I use Winkflash.com to print bound photo books of my 12 x 12 layouts. It is a great website, easy to use. Before I discovered digital scrapbooking, I used their templates and filled them with my pictures. The books are good quality and the colors are true, in my experience. When they have their flat rate book sale, it is a really great deal!

    Reply
  4. Amy H

    Love SHutterfly- their premade templates got me back in to scrapping when time didn’t allow me to do paper scrapping & then got me motivated to try digital! Their prices, quality and customer service are great.

    Reply
  5. tzigane

    i have never actually had my layouts made into a photo book. i still just have them printed individually and then place them in the appropriate size album. i like this way, seems more like scrapbooking to me I guess. I have thought about having one made for each of my children for their first year books. but i am not sure since i have a traditional book for my daughter and I am not sure I want to scan the layouts. Plus redoing them digi would mean scanning pictures which would mean finding all of them! My son is luckier (i guess) than my daughter as he is all digital.

    i have had photo books made though they were just of my uploaded pictures not layouts. Most recently I had 4 done at Christmas for gifts for my mom, my MIL and my husband. I just uploaded my photos and designed the book. For two of the books I used Photo Works. I loved the two books I got from them, they are great quality. For the other two I made two small flip books of my kids for my mom. Basically these were just photos bound together with a spiral comb. I got them from Shutterfly and they were great as usual! I love Shutterfly because as Amy H pointed out their prices, quality and customer service is great!

    Reply
  6. mstalbot1

    I have had 12 x 12 pages printed at Persnickety & ScrappingSimply. I put them in page protectors & post binders. My little kids love to touch way too much & I worry about the pages getting ripped so I don’t my pages made into photo books. Love your emails!

    Reply
  7. Jenn L

    I’ve only used Shutterfly. I have had both bad and good experiences with them. I’ve probably done 5 books now. Thing is, I am afraid to try something new. I’m not sure I want my books to look different than they do now. Plus, you’re investing so much, I’d hate to invest in something I’d be disappointed with.

    Reply
  8. Candice S. in Colorado

    This is one topic that facinates me…for a few reasons. Firstly, I am a paper scrapper and often times when I look at the available printing options for digital layouts, I am not always impressed. Secondly, there is just something about opening up a traditional scrapbook, i.e., postbound, 3-ring, etc., so… my preferred choice would be to use a 12×12 printer of my own and slide my pages right into a photo album, perhaps even adding a few embellishments of my own. BUT, if I were to use a photobook printing service, I think I might try http://www.mixbook.com/. Their prices seem reasonable and it appears as though the books are easily made. This would be an option I would go w/ if I was short on time. I also love the options available via Shutterfly….and lastly, I would also love to use http://www.scrappingsimply.com/ because that goes along w/ my first statement as it relates to putting together my own album.

    This is definitely NOT a subject that I am an expert on and I am looking forward to reading ALL of the posts that come thru!

    Thanks so much!

    Candi

    Reply
  9. Kim Guymon

    I love photobooks. I used to be a paper scrapper for years and then discovered photobooks and never looked back. http://photobooksetc.blogspot.com/2010/02/confessions-of-former-scrapbooker.html

    For the longest life of your books, make sure you are getting them from a company that sews their pages together before gluing them in the cover. Not every company (even the big ones) has that level of quality. PhotoBooks{etc} (http://www.photobooksetc.com) DOES and it’s one of the reasons I use them and started my business with them.

    I usually create my books at the site with the drag-and-drop software and use the simple photo editing on-site rather than editing photos and making the pages on another program first. I’m a simple scrapper so that works better for me.

    Reply
  10. kristin t

    Currently, I use Sam’s Club – can you believe it! 🙂 They do a nice job, and they have templates if you want ’em. I just pre-make my pages in Photoshop, then upload them to a “blank” page in the book.

    I’ve also used RealBooks – http://www.realbooks-scrapbooks.com/ and have been mostly pleased. The last book I got from them seemed darker and less vivid, but I’ve had others turn out great!

    I find Shutterfly tedious to use (even though I think Sam’s Club prints via Shutterfly!)…I’ve tried it a few times and always ended up going another route.

    Reply
  11. Kay

    I’ve done one photobook with Creative Memories and loved the process and the book. It seems expensive, but actually, I think with all the product I use in my regular scrapbooks, it’s probably not unreasonable.
    I have also worked with Memory Mixer software, but have only printed out my pages (81/2 x 11) on my own printer. And I haven’t figured out how to do a “full bleed” printing, yet. I really want to switch over to digital, but I have so much “stuff” that I need to use up.

    Reply
  12. Tiffany

    I’ve had one book printed, and I used Blurb, and did a full-bleed print of my 12×12 digital scrapbook pages with their premium paper. I was extremely happy with my book, and after having done it, I realized that photobooks actually cost less than printing individual pages and slipping into albums (although in my mind I always thought it would be more expensive). And it’s also less bulky and is not as heavy. I’m planning to do all my printing in book form from here on out.

    The only thing I did not like about Blurb was that you “assemble” the book on your end with their software, and then have to upload the whole huge thing all at once. It worked ok, (and maybe has it’s advantages as far as tinkering around with your book) but I would have preferred to upload individual pages. The upload did go fine.

    Reply
  13. Melinda Wilson

    I love photobooks! I use Snapfish and what is wonderful about them is they have so many different templates you can use on each page so you can fit the template to the amount of photos you have. My favorite book I have completed was about my stepmother’s family. She had six brothers and sisters so I placed pictures in the books by siblings. Each sibling then had all their family’s pictures all together.
    Another great thing about snapfish is you can save the book and if you need to order another later, you can login and order as many as you need!

    Reply
  14. Melinda Wilson

    I use photobooks for vacations and I complete them chronological so you can feel like you have completed each day and move on to the next. (simple is the code word)

    Reply
  15. Chari

    I agree with Kim “For the longest life of your books, make sure you are getting them from a company that sews their pages together before gluing them in the cover. Not every company (even the big ones) has that level of quality. ”
    The company that we use for books at http://www.persnicketyprints.com stitches & glues, it is called PUR binding. We are pro photo printers at Persnickety, but we also feel like we need to leave the Pro’s doing what they do best. We are not equipped with machines to bind this way, nor can we produce a custom imaged hard bound cover…SO, we send it out for the finish work. Our goal is customer satisfaction, quality being most important. When I spend countless hours creating pages, I want them to look good! Having said that, I prefer my pages being printed on photo paper over books because the images are ALWAYS more vibrant & true. Photo books are printed on inkjet machines, where photo paper is a chemical process that puts the color and image INTO the paper, not laid on top. Photo paper is water proof, scratch & fade resistant. I don’t fear them being ruined:)

    Reply
  16. Laser

    I would like to know if anyone has the exact measurements needed for 8×8 and 12×12 album templates for Artscow. When I upload an 8×8 page it does not cover the entire grey area in their layout and they want me to extend my layout to cover the grey. If I do that then I am afraid the border I have will get trimmed.

    What is the axact size of their layout including the grey area?

    Reply
  17. Barbara

    I love photobooks and make them all the time, they make great gifts and I am in the process of doing the kids books…I have their baby books done so far. But I always do vacation and summer albums. Sometimes scrappy, sometimes just minimalist.

    I have to say, quality counts. In this case cheap is not the best choice. I like Shutterfly for cost, although not cheap, their quality is very good for the price and they have lots of options. I’ve used My Publisher as well and they are okay. I’ve seen Blurb books fall apart after less than a year of casual flipping through. I have not seen Artscow yet, I just placed an order from them after avoiding them for years…I figured I’d try them since it was free…they get you on the ridiculous shipping though. I haven’t received the book yet, but I am not expecting it to be great. But it was free, sort of, and so why not test it out. I am planning a post about this topic once I have the book in my hand.

    Now I use CherishBOUND as I became a consultant. The quality is outstanding and they archive the books forever, so if anything ever happened to your book, you can replace it. They are more expensive than others, yes, but I really think you get what you pay for.

    Reply
  18. Sarah

    I use viovio and I’ve been really happy with them. I upload my scrapbook layouts and then do the full bleed pages. I chose them mostly because they were one of the only places that offers a 10×10 size and that is what I wanted, but also their prices are good. I can get a 10×10 book with 80 pages for right around $50, and that is with shipping included. I’ve only actually gotten one from them so far but I just placed an order for two more complete 80 page books and I am so excited to get them. Here are a few pictures of the one I have. http://naptimemusings.blogspot.com/2009/11/on-our-first-valentines-day-together.html

    Reply
  19. Anita

    As soon as I saw the topic, I knew I wanted to comment! And I’ve seen some new places to look into as I’ve read these posts.

    I’ve used Shutterfly for books several times – I like the color and sharpness. I wish they had something between 8×8 and 12×12, and that they would print over 100 page books.

    I’ve printed 12×12 pages at Costco on photo paper – great quality!! I’ve used this for prints to frame as gifts.

    I had one book done at Artscow – you could feel the staple through the cover, and I had to pay extra charges on my Visa, because it was mailed from China.

    I’ve used Viovio, and the books were just about as good as Shutterfly, for less money, plus I could get them in 10 x 10; but I found the pricing confusing… i.e. it ended up being more than I thought it would be. Still, this was my favorite until I found:

    Inkubook.com – this is my favorite that I’ve settled on; partly because of quality and affordability; also because I REALLY like the 11 x 11 book size that they offer. Last spring I paid just under $60 (including shipping and with a 25% discount) & had a 120 page, 11×11 hardback book done – and it actually included two additional pages, front and back covers! : )

    Reply
  20. patti

    Love photobooks — especially BLURB! Their service, cost, and quality of the product is great. Been using them for several years now. I customize my own books, creating my own scrapbook layout (how else would I use all the digital kits I buy ?!?) and plopping them in as full bleed pages. Photobooks are a great way to share my/our life with friends and family.

    Reply
  21. EBPitcher

    I’ve done photobooks using supplied templates and scrapped templates, each for different purposes. If it’s just pictures, I’ll likely use the supplied templates from the publisher. I’ve used shutterfly, blurb, and kodak and all have provided good product. I will say that Blurb has the best price for a large number of pages because you pay by page block instead of individual pages. I made a blog book with Blurb and it turned out wonderful!

    Reply
  22. Rebecca (MamaBee)

    I’ve done a lot of photobooks… I like the DYI ones. Before I was into digi scrapping, I did use mypublisher for my son’s birth photos and 6 mon. The quality is awesome! Since, I’ve only used ArtCow once because they were cheap… the quality was good, but it took FOREVER to get the book… like a month. I’ve always gone with Shutterfly if they a sale and free shipping… they are very pricy, I think, but they have great quality and only once did I have a book that the binding wasn’t done well and they replaced it and shipped it next day… their customer service does leave a little to be desired… didn’t like that I had to call three different times, where I’m assuming India based on the accent before I could get someone to help me with a coupon code. I would like to try viovio… I’ve heard good things about them.

    Reply
  23. michellejg

    I’ve printed several books through Viovio and I LOVE them. The quality is fantastic and the prices can’t be beat. The software takes a little getting used to but it’s worth it. They aren’t the quickest printing option but they are really good.
    I did several books through scrappingsimply.com at Christmas and was NOT impressed. Not only was the cost more, the quality was really inferior. The color saturation was totally bizarre and in some situations nearly neon. Colors of papers, embellishments and photos were completely off. Worst of all was the binding. The one I had done for my MIL literally had pages falling out when she opened for the first time. Not what I was looking for on Christmas morning.
    I’ve since had them reprinted through Viovio and couldn’t be happier!

    Reply
  24. Kellie

    I had a couple of photobooks printed at MyPicTales, and I was very happy with the results.

    Reply
  25. Wendy

    @Laser Artscow pages use 1/8″ bleed on each side. So, and 8×8 book is 8.25×8.25 and 12×12 is 12.25×12.25. In addition to my Shutterfly actions and templates, I offer toolkits for many other printers. Artscow uses the same page sizes as MyPicTales. So, for Artscow users, I’ve put out a set of Artscow cover templates to go along with the MyPicTales toolkits. You can find them here: http://shop.scrapbookgraphics.com/product.php?productid=23303&cat=0&page=1 and here: http://shop.scrapbookgraphics.com/product.php?productid=21190&cat=0&page=2 and here: http://shop.scrapbookgraphics.com/product.php?productid=21189&cat=0&page=2

    Reply
  26. Breeoxd

    I Love INKUBOOK!!!
    They are fantastic! Great customer service- with a 24 hour chat room right there if you need help! Prints 11 x 11 so it will fit on a standard bookshelf while not being sized too small, software easy to use, prices are reasonable and the books are stitched and can be done a little bit larger than shutterfly. Software also automatically resizes your layout to fit on their page.

    Oh, and they are always having sales and stuff, AND they have a great option for passwording your project and letting others contribute to it online. I LOVE that for showers, weddings etc. where lots of people took pictures and want to contribute! I would highly recommend them

    This is also intangible but I really like the vibe I get from the company- fun, youthful and very happy to be doing business with you!

    Reply
  27. Kathy K

    I have used snapfish & shutterfly to create photobooks. The books I have created have been for specific events: vacation, 40th birthday, & christmas. My friends & family will usually pick a photo sharing site to upload pictures to, this is where I will create my book. I like using pictures that everyone has taken…gives a different perspective of the event & it’s great for the shots that I missed. (SIMPLE)

    Reply
  28. Melissa Rhodes

    I love Shutterfly! They always have sales going on! I have done a premade book, one I put my own digital scrapbook pages in, and have used their build a book too! Love the quality. I am looking to expand my experience with other places too! Thanks.

    Reply
  29. Michelle

    I love using Shutterfly books with the premade templates when I have a lot of pictures to scrap (like from a vacation). I do my own scrap pages and make yearly books of my favorite photos and give them as gifts for Christmas.

    I love this topic and now have some new companies I would like to try.

    Reply
  30. Alice

    I’ve done both books and loose pages… I love both. With loose pages you can pull them out and reorder them however you want. But there’s also something specifal of having a bound book.

    I got the bound book printed at Shutterfly and the loose pages at MPT.

    Reply
  31. Michelle Bell

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned Heritage Makers yet. I tried all sorts of different publishers and was dissatisfied with almost all of them– with either the quality or the process of creating the books. When I discovered Heritage Makers it was a DREAM come true for a digi-scrapper like myself. What I love is that I can either create projects in photoshop, or create them right online with their online studio. Their program is AWESOME and super easy to use. The best part is they offer templated books- but they are completely customizable. I can change it and make it look however I want. The other great thing is they have a huge vault of art (45,000+ pieces) that are searchable. I used to spend hours trying to find freebies and then later organize them on my computer. NOT anymore! (but I still uploaded my freebies so I can also use them with the art provided). Their books, prints, posters, scrapbook pages are top of the line quality– all archived for life, unlimited photo storage. And the books are BEAUTIFUL and STITCHED (not glued)! I loved everything about the company so much that I decided to sign up as a consultant almost 3 years ago. Still love it! If you haven’t been satisfied by other online publishers– check out Heritage Makers (www.storybookpreserves.com). You have a personal consultant that will help you and although it seems like the prices are a little bit higher- they always have great sales and deals going on when you talk with your consultant. You can even earn your books for free. PLUS a consultant will help you scan in your older photos so you can actually use them on your digital projects. It just may be the solution you’ve been looking for like it was for me!
    [img]http://photos-f.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc3/hs519.snc3/27220_316553387606_616842606_3551961_8328885_s.jpg[/img]

    Reply
  32. Amy

    Smilebooks is what I’ve been using. They make a flat bound photopaper book that is AWESOME. It’s like a 12×12 perfect photoprint (like one you’d get from simplyscrapping, but it comes bound in a ‘lay-flat’ binding. All my friends “oooh and ahhh” over my books. Price is especially great when they are offering coupons, which they are right now for FB fans.

    Reply
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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. { free friday finds } for March 12, 2010 | simple scrapper - [...] to Kathy K. who answered the question with: I have used snapfish & shutterfly to create photobooks. The books…
  2. Finish A Photobook: Ask Wendy : Scrapbookgraphics – Digital Scrapbooking - [...] Your Best Options for Digital Photobooks More Discussion on Photobooks If you have any other photobook resources you’d like…

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