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Saturday, January 03, 2009

Photo Books

My sister, Susan, is the inspiration for this post. She is a great walker as well as reader. I admire that she walks just about every day and it inspires me. It's been years but I haven't soaked up enough inspiration to walk on a regular basis myself. Susan started blogging 2 or 3 days ago and scrap booking online and I've already soaked up enough inspiration to write a blog post based on her blog and scrap booking. Funny how it doesn't take as much to feel inspired to blog (since I can sit while doing it) as it does to walk. Okay, not funny at all!

Anyway, back to photo books. I used Photoworks to create a book for my mother for a Christmas present. She, Candleman and I went to Oregon for a wonderful week in October. The fall colors were fabulous and visiting the coast again was wonderful. It was hard deciding what pictures to include and which ones to leave out. The layouts available sometimes dictated which pictures would work best. Sometimes I had a weird combination of portrait and landscape pictures that didn't match up with the layouts. Sometimes I only had one or two pictures of something, so those two pictures took up a page when at other times I had lots of pictures that were condensed into a page. It seemed to give some scenes a higher prominence than what they held in my mind while others received lesser prominence than they deserved. Overall, the experience was good. The finished book turned out really well even though I made a few mistakes on labeling the pictures. The pictures were crisp and clear and the quality of the book was great. I was very pleased. And I received the book in a mere 5 days after ordering it. Amazing! I also liked that I could add a few extra pages to the book.

With that successful experience under my belt I decided to make another book for Candleman for our anniversary present (We have always stuck to the 1st year present of paper and given each other a book.) This time I would use pictures from our 5 week trip to Newfoundland and back. My daughter, Alyson, told me of other photo book publishing sites; such as, Artscow.com, Blurb.com, Shutterfly.com and that's all I remember. I chose Artscow because they offered the most variation in layouts for a 12x12 album. I knew I would need that size to even include a few pictures of all the wonderful things we saw and did. And they offered extra pages - I was sure I would need more than 30.

Artscow was not as easy to use as PhotoWorks because it didn't allow me to see my pictures in a little band across the top of the screen while I was choosing the layout for the page. So I had to write down the number of pictures I wanted to use and how many were portrait and/or landscape then I had to choose a layout that would work best. Then I had to go back to the picture selection to add pictures. Sometimes the pictures didn't work so well in that layout so I'd have to go back to the layout page and choose again. That is my #2 biggest complaint about Artscow.

My #1 complaint was that after doing all the above steps for 30 pages I discovered I could only add ONE more blinking page! They told me up front that I could add additional pages at $1 a page, but they neglected to tell me that I could only add ONE page - just one! I needed to add about 8 more and I couldn't do it. Oh, I was mad. I had spent hours on those 31 pages and was very pleased with them. I really couldn't condense anything because each page or 2 page spread was about 1 theme. I thought about doing a second book the same size and just paying the extra but I really didn't have enough to fill another 30 pages. I emailed the company about my problem but they just informed me that I could only add one extra page.

Needless to say, I did not get my husband a book for our anniversary which was on Dec 28. It still on hold until I decide what to do. I don't know if the quality of the book would have been comparable to PhotoWorks or not.

If you have any experience with photo books or have a site that you are especially pleased with please let me know. I suspect there are other sites that provide a nice selection of layouts. Would love to hear your recommendations and/or experience with photo books.

**Added Note: After writing this post I went back to Artscow and looked over their other book sizes. They only offered an 8x8 and a 12x12 size, but the 8x8 offers 39 pages. So I wondered if I could just choose the same layouts and just have my pictures show up smaller. I started a new book, moved my first picture and, lo and behold, there were handles around the picture allowing me to change the size. Next I checked the text box, it also had handles. Wow! The 12x12 book didn't do that. Last month it didn't, but this month it does. I think that's an awesome feature. I'll keep you posted on how things work out.

**Second Added Note: I just read a review about Artscow that didn't thrill me. Until I read this review I had decided to use Artscow and do two 12x12 books - one for the trip from Utah to Newfoundland and one for the return trip. Both books would be cheaper than one book from Shutterfly. I guess you get what you pay for. Someone who commented on that review at Freebies4Mom mentioned Snapfish had good quality, so I'm off to check them out. I may have to settle for fewer layout options and a higher price tag to get good quality results.

18 comments:

Kristen M. said...

Since I am a terrible scrapbooker (I have zero creative talent), I decided to make photo books for each year of my son's life. I use Shutterfly because you can make 100 page books which always seem to be just about right for a year of his life. Too bad I've only made two so far and he's ending his 4th year in May! I'm right in the middle of the third and I really need to finish and move on. I don't want to stop making these awesome books.

jenclair said...

:) As you know, my daughter used Shutterfly for the book on Bryce's first year. She has made several books about their vacation, short trips, etc. The one she gave us for Christmas was absolutely wonderful.

Here is a link
http://bayouquilts.blogspot.com/2008/12/new-years-eve-first-post.html

to a collage I made of the book and posted on my quilting blog.

Pabast said...

I work in a preschool and one of th things we have to do is make photo books around a certain theme. I discovered Walgreens.com and I use them to make my photo books for work. I like using them because they are a little bit more sturdy than homemade books.
Walgreens.com photo books also come in different sizes.

I use the 5x7 photo book. I think you can have up to 75 double sided pages for all the sizes accept for the mini photo books.

I wanted to give you another option. Check it out.

Maggie May said...

hi i had to pop in because i LOVE books!i do regular posts on my blog for book reviews. i've read through quite a bit of yours!

Lisa R.D. said...

We have loved MyPublisher--you can add more pages (for a fee per page), they have several different sizes, AND you get a discount if you do the book through Costco's photo site (20% off). I am a self-proclaimed technically challenged person, but I found the site very easy to use and move photos around. They often have specials that we like to take advantage of, like buy one get one free. Those deals are great at gifting time, since we can make one for Grandma and keep one as a keepsake for us. Best of luck! (And I'd love to see some photos of Newfoundland, what an adventure!)

Booklogged said...

I surely do appreciate all your feedback. I have checked out each suggestion. Finally, settled on Shutterfly, but half way into downloading pictures I switched to MyPublisher. I am loving it! The selection of layouts and background colors is not as great as some of the other places, but it is quick and easy. If the printed book looks anywhere near as nice as it looks on the computer, I will be very satisfied.

Thank-you all!

Ben said...

I have a friend who is an associate for Heritage Makers which is a photo book place, too. I use them for my less expensive line of wedding albums/books. They're nice books and I know they have a ton of templates and stuff, so they may be worth checking out, as well.

My friend's HM link is http://www.storybookingbyyou.com if you want to take a look.

Staci said...

I'm so glad that you blogged about this. My hubby and son went out west for 3 weeks and I've done a traditional scrapbook but I wanted to add a hardbound one too. I'm going to have to check out all the different sites you mentioned.

Pabast said...

I am so glad that you found a site that fits your needs. I hope that the photo book comes out as wonderful as you hope.

Les said...

I've made several books using Ofoto, now known as Kodak Gallery. I'm off to work, but I'll write more this evening. Check it out if you get a chance:

http://www.kodakgallery.com/Welcome.jsp

Andi said...

I've been thinking about putting one of these books together for my mom, so I'm waiting (im)patiently to hear more about your experiences!

Paula said...

I've never made or seen one of these books, but you've certainly grabbed my attention. Can't wait to hear how yours turn out. Great idea for gifts!!

tanabata said...

I've thought of putting together a photo book but haven't got much further than that- just thinking about it. And there are so many options now it's great to hear about your experiences.

Gentle Reader said...

I've only ever used the Mac products to make photo books (the one that comes with iPhoto) but I've been very pleased with how they've turned out. However, I'm not very picky, as I consider the whole thing a miracle technology, and I'm so happy to be able to make photo books at all!

Stephanie said...

One of my friends here at work uses Snapfish....and I've seen a couple of the books. They really turned out nice. I've never used it, but she says it's easy!

Good luck!

EE said...

I prefer Shutterfly to make photo books http://www.shutterfly.com/shop/Creating_Keepsakes/product_c40800.
Good luck!

Eva Lyford said...

Have you checked out http://inkubook.com/ ? They offer up to 120 pp books.

Anonymous said...

I did the two-for-one at MyPublisher. I was a bit angry that it had been billed as 'FREE', but LOVE how easy it was to use and how GREAT my book turned out. Soft cover, small, extra pages, enough options for me, it looks supberb!

I made it for work.