Photo book round up

I read a blog post yesterday that reviewed blurb.com’s photo books, and it got me thinking about all the photo books I have ordered.

First– I love making photos into printed books. It is way easier and (I think) more modern than actual scrapbooking, and I don’t know about you, but I will never sit and look at just a plain stack of photos. I made my first photo book back in 2008 after a trip to Vegas to celebrate my finishing law school/the bar, but somehow I’ve lost that book (super sad). In all, I think I’ve made nine books in the last 4 years, and ordered one more from a photographer.

So, ten books. They were ordered from snapfish.com,shutterfly.com, blurb.com, adoramapix.com, and kissweddingbooks.com. Which doesn’t really make me an expert, but does give me some experience with a variety of companies that might be helpful to others deciding on their first (or tenth!) photo book.

Let’s start with snapfish and shutterfly. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of my snapfish book, as that was my Vegas one which I lost. But I can tell you that snapfish and shutterfly were basically the same in my opinion.

These are available in both hard and soft cover in a variety of sizes. They each only offer standard paper. Shutterfly doesn’t say what weight they use, but it feels like Snapfish which uses 100lb weight. It feels like a page from a nice magazine. You can customize the covers, as you can with most photo books. I made this book for our engagement photos, and used it as our guest book at the wedding. Mostly I chose shutterfly because I had a groupon and I wanted something cheap.

The cover is pretty, but you can see the pages are pretty thin/unimpressive. This has 20 pages and it takes up well under half an inch. Probably closer to 1/4-1/3 inch.

But the quality of the photos themselves is pretty good.

In the future I’ll use either of these companies for books I don’t want to invest much money in. The cost for a 20 page hardcover 8×8 book from Snapfish is $28.99, and from Shutterfly is $29.99. Although there are groupons for these OFTEN, and the companies run great sales as well.

Next up, blurb! Blurb is not much more expensive than snapfish/shutterfly at $31.95 for a 20 page hardcover standard landscape (8×10) book with standard paper. The downside is I’ve never seen a group on for them, so you’ll probably end up paying that price.

I made blurb books for my honeymoon album, and for a wedding album (combining both mine and my brother’s weddings) for my grandma. I ordered soft cover just to try something different, and I actually really liked it!

One huge benefit of blurb is that you can choose to upgrade your paper. The standard paper is 80 lb weight, which again will feel about like a nice magazine page. You can also upgrade to 100 lb premium paper (which I have not tried) or 140 lb ProLine paper, which I what I ordered for our honeymoon album. The album ended up being about 30 pages, and check out how much thicker it is than the shutterfly book above.

The quality of the photos is pretty good. About the same as snapfish/shutterfly.

The downside of a softcover book is that the book won’t really stay open on its own, but I still think it is a cute/different type of album and I liked it. I think it would be especially cute to do a very thick small-sized book, like a 200 page 7×7. Maybe I’ll have to think of an excuse to make one of those in the future!

Overall thought: I like blurb when I want a bit more professional feeling paper. I will probably use it for most of my future vacation albums, as long as I’m not feeling too cheap.

Last of the consumer-level albums is Adoramapix. I love adoramapix! It is what I used to make our wedding album and albums for our moms. The covers are very nice, thicker cardboard, and have a nice sheen to them.

The real awesomeness of Adoramapix, though, is the paper. Rather than using printer paper, they use real photo paper. Each page is actually two pieces of photo paper glued back-to-back. This makes for very nice super-thick paper. This album is 36 pages long, and over an inch thick!

Because they use real photo paper, the photos are every bit as nice as ones you would print for your wall, and best of all: lay flat pages!! One photo can span two pages, which gives you some amazing options for layouts.

Love love love. These are definitely my favorite photo books, but you pay the quality. For a hard cover 8×8 book with 26 pages (there is no option for 20 pages), you’ll pay $42. The prices go up pretty steeply as you increase pages, but for important events (like a wedding!) I always think it is worth it to err on the side of too many pages. I did the full 76 pages (front and back, so 37 double-sided) for my wedding album. It is worth mentioning that Adorama runs a lot of sales, so I would recommend following them on Facebook or twitter to keep an eye out for discounts. Adorama is also the only company that has leather covers as an option (newly– I wish they had had this when I ordered my book!). I think leather covers are awesome and super professional looking, so I would definitely have gone with that had I had the chance.

Last but not least, KISS books. These are not available to your average consumer, but if you hire a professional there is a good chance this is what they use. I ordered one from my photographer when I did my boudoir shoot (wedding gift for the dear husband!). They also use real photo paper, and it is even thicker than that used by adorama.

That is only 14 double-sided pages! Although I think the photo quality is about the same as adorama. I think this photo is pretty safe to share, as it doesn’t show any more than my (strapless) wedding dress did.

Nice, but not really better than adorama. The price on these is going to vary based on whatever mark up your photographer has, but in my personal opinion it is not worth much more than the adorama books.

So– that is it! Five photo book companies in review. I hope it helps to explain some of the options out there and helps someone to make the right choice for their specific needs.

Which is your favorite photo book company, and why?

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7 thoughts on “Photo book round up

  1. Love this roundup! I’ve only used Blurb and Snapfish, and I definitely prefer Blurb – their books just looks/feel higher quality in my experience. I haven’t tried Adorama, mostly because I’m too cheap haha

  2. haha totally understandable!! Like I said, I only did Adorama for wedding albums, because that seemed worth the cost for an heirloom-ish book. Also, it helped that I waited for a 40% off sale so I think I got my 76 page 10×10 book for like $170 (a STEAL compared to professional albums)

  3. We do the Apple photobooks. I think they are similar in quality to snapfish, etc. (and more expensive) but I prefer them for ease of use. You just drag the photos into the book. Although I do feel as though th layouts are limited, but maybe there is a way to find other types of layouts? Maybe you can help me with that? :) Also I’m sure our wedding album is some pro photog only thing but it is amazing. Seriously awesome but so heavy.

  4. @shanderson- good point about ease of use! I didn’t rate those I guess because I figure anyone who is determined will be able to use any of them (also, you know me and my terrible memory so I don’t really even remember how hard the various services are to use! haha). Also, your photog used willowbrook albums, I think, which are like a whole other level HIGHER even that have the photo paper mounted to boards rather than just mounted back-to-back with each other :)

  5. I love your books. They looks so beautiful and make me want to create my own. I made a photo book for our engagement photos, but that’s all I’ve done. I used Blurb for that and I really liked it. I’ve been thinking recently that I’d like to put our vacations into books and try to finish making our wedding book. I’ve been using AdoramaPix for my wedding album too but have just procrastinated. Now that I know they have leather albums, I might have to get on that ASAP!

  6. I totally agree actually. I had started working on our wedding album so long ago but ran into issues when I realized we were missing over half our photos!! Then I stopped and I just haven’t gotten the motivation to finish it since. We’re coming up on our 2 year anniversary, so I’d really like to finish them ASAP! I will definitely be blogging about it once I do :)

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