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.