I made my first photo book as a gift to my parents (a simple photo book with photos from our holidays together) and the result was so nice that I started making photo books for myself. We now have a tradition of ordering photobooks for each of our holidays. Here’s a quick review of my favorite photobook making sites.
Chatbooks is a small and simple photo book service perfect for small projects. The concept is pretty simple: it lets you create and subscribe to photo book series. A series “volume” consists of 60 photos. You can select the source of those photos, once the source reaches 60, a volume is complete and sent to you. (You have time to review it before it’s sent)
You can add the title, caption, location, and date to photos or keep it simple and just have photos. You can’t have multiple photos per page: you would need to make the collage yourself and update the collage version if you want to have multiple photos on one page. For an extra, you can have a hardcover, and/or pick 5 individual photos as additional 5x5 prints. Book series are 6x6 and cost 10 USD.
Another option is to create a custom photo book. This is a one-off photo book (not a series). The concept is the same, but there’s no limit to the number of photos in the book (well, the max number of pages is 366). For custom books, you can pick between 6x6 or 8x8, and they start at 15 USD.
For small projects, Chatbooks is perfect! It’s really simple and cheap. For small city trips, I will usually just print just one Chatbook. I really like its format, and the paper quality is good. I like the series concept as we often return to Paris. So we have Paris vol. 1, vol. 2, etc.
Are you ready to create your Chatbooks? Get your first book free with my referral link: http://invite.chatbooks.com/karinedo01p !
For more complex photo book projects, I totally recommend Blurb. Flickr actually recently shut down its photobook printing service and partnered with Blurb instead so I think that’s a good guarantee of quality.
I tested two types of books:
- classic photobook, with higher quality ink and paper, super good finish
- tradebooks: cheaper than photobooks, ideal for large projects
I’m really thrilled about my hardcover tradebook. I didn’t think the paper quality would be so good. You can see a difference in image quality between the regular photobook and the tradebook but for personal use, I don’t think it’s worth splurging for the photobook. It’s all holiday pictures so I don’t need fancy finer grain paper. Also, the tradebook exceeded all my expectations!
- For a hardcover 480 pages color tradebook (6x9) with standard trade paper, I paid 90.39 CAD (sales taxes and shipping excluded).
- For the softcover 324 pages color photobook (7x7) with standard paper, I paid 106.19 CAD (sales taxes and shipping excluded).
You can create your Blurb books directly from Adobe Lightroom, Flickr website, or use their software, Bookwright. For my book, I used Bookwright. It was easy enough to use: there are several layouts to choose from, you can make your own, add text with your custom fonts, etc. One thing I missed was the ability to change image opacity.
Oh one other thing, you can actually sell your book through Blurb and distribute it to major online shops (Amazon, Apple iBooks, etc.) so that’s pretty neat.
Another notable photobook player is Shutterfly. This service is more mainstream and regularly offers coupon code for pretty good deals. It’s pretty good if you don’t have a lot of photos to print and need a basic photo book, however it has a maximum of 110 pages. I used this site to create the very first photo book for my parents! Here's a referral link to get a free photo book from Shutterfly: https://invite-shutterfly.com/x/3xwcyT
Are there other good photo book services out there?