Caught in the Web

Turn Priceless Memories Into Timeless Books

 

by Laura Emery, Field Editor

Photographs are moments frozen in time. Whether it’s a cherished photo of the family dog, or a snapshot of your newborn’s first smile — a photo is a visual record of the moment. So it’s no wonder people are always looking for newer and better ways to turn digital pixels into long-lasting keepsakes. You can put photos on just about anything these days — puzzles, mugs, pillows, blankets, key chains, coasters, ornaments.

When it comes to storing precious pictures, traditional photo albums and scrapbooks are slowly becoming obsolete. Why flip through stacks of anonymous photo albums, or click through hundreds of online albums to find the photo you’re looking for? This is where photo books come into the picture.

There are many websites that can help you turn your digital pixels into dazzling photo books, to present and store your valuable photos in an attractive way. You can create wedding albums, school yearbooks, holiday memory books, professional photographer portfolios, scrapbooks, family albums, and much more. You can even create your baby’s first book. Photo books are essentially a cooler, easier, neater version of the good-old photo album. Pictures are printed as part of the pages themselves — just like a coffee table book. You can also add your own text and customize the design to meet your personal needs. 

Digital photo-book printing companies are constantly trying to outdo each other: lowering prices, increasing the range of options, improving quality, making the creative process more fun, and so on. But selecting the right photo-book-printing website can be an overwhelming task. Each site has different strengths and weaknesses. Here are reviews of three major, affordable photo-book-printing websites: Shutterfly, Mixbook, and Snapfish.

Shutterfly.com

At Shutterfly.com, you get a good-quality product. Perhaps this is why Shutterfly is one of the most popular photo-book websites out there right now. With a wide variety of designs and layouts, there’s a greater chance that your photo book won’t look like everyone else’s. Shutterfly also has a lot of options — you can get a custom-printed cover, hard cover, soft cover, padded cover, or leather or fabric cover (with die-cut window). It also offers a variety of book sizes to meet any need. The pages are thick and matted (as opposed to glossy), and spine printing is available and very easy to do. The only downside to Shutterfly is that you can only create a photo book with 101 pages or less, and you can’t create a book with a dust jacket.

Stacey Popovich, professional photographer, says, “As a photographer, I’m proud to display my personal and business photos in Shutterfly’s photo books. Photo quality is of utmost importance, and Shutterfly’s print quality is the best I’ve encountered for an affordable price.”

Another great thing about Shutterfly — it often has special offers, or sends you coupons in the mail or through email. So its original good pricing can get even better. Shutterfly never deletes your photos, and photo storage is free and unlimited (and at full resolution). When creating a photo book, you can choose to have it instantly created for you, or you can customize it yourself, page by page. Photo-book sizes: 5x7, 7x9, 8x8, 8x11, and 12x12.

Snapfish/Walmart/Walgreens

Snapfish is also a big name in the photo-book business. What you might not know is that Walmart.com and Walgreens.com use the same software as Snapfish for a slightly cheaper price. Snapfish, like Shutterfly, has a wide variety of options when it comes to book sizes, covers and sizes. Dust-jacket book, hardbound, softbound, custom cover — there are a lot of choices. The paper is thick and has a glossy sheen to it (80-lb. archival-quality, acid-free paper) sure to make even marginal photos look their best. At Snapfish, you can create a photo book that has up to 150 pages (more pages than Shutterfly). The following sizes are available: 8x11, 8x8, 5x7, and 12x12 (available with only one cover option). A downside to Snapfish photo books is that there are not a wide variety of up-to-date designs, and layouts are also limited — but for someone who wants to keep it simple and appreciates the convenience and ease, this might be a good thing. At Walmart.com, you can get some photo books printed in one hour. You can even create a personalized picture book for the little ones in your life. All you need is one picture of the child’s face.

To see a run-down of all Walmart’s photo-book options and prices in one place, go here: http:// photos1.walmart.com/walmart/comparebooks. Photo books here can start off as low as $7 for a softbound 5x7 photo book. Karen Lang, graphic artist, says of her Walmart.com photo books: “I would never have thought Walmart.com could offer such a nice quality book, but they really do. I purchased a leather-cover book, and the book just has a rich quality to it. I’m always very happy with the books I make through Walmart.com!”

Mixbook.com

If you’re looking for a truly custom book, Mixbook is the place to go. Unlike a lot of the other photo-book websites, Mixbook gives users much greater ability to personalize books — and not just by selecting backgrounds and layouts. Mixbook goes one step further by allowing you to add text anywhere, rotate text, add stickers, overlap text and images, create shadows, create different shapes with your photos. You can move, crop, rotate, pan and zoom on photos; add stickers and backgrounds; and create custom layouts. The possibilities are endless with Mixbook’s powerful and easy editor. If you have the time to create a truly custom photo book, this is the place to go.

Mixbook photo layouts and designs are very much reminiscent of scrapbooking. A lot of other photo book websites claim to help you do “digital scrapbooking,” but Mixbook’s designs and layouts are more like actual scrapbook pages than Shutterfly or Snapfish. 

 

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