Now that we have all our wonderful wedding photos I really want to design a photo book. Being a designer, I could do this myself, but that involves lots of time and the money I save designing it myself, I’ll for sure spend in printing and binding costs. So I’ve been looking for an online solution and I thought I’d share what I found.
Here are the 5 online photo book design apps that I compared: Blurb, Mixbook, Wedding Paper Divas, iPhoto and Pinhole Press. Scroll down to see my thoughts and ratings.
Top: Wedding Paper Divas // Bottom Left: Pinhole Press // Bottom Right: Mixbook
1. Blurb // I have heard a lot about blurb over the years and was excited to finally have a book project to try them out. Unfortunately I was pretty disappointed with what I found.
– You can connect your account to Flickr, Picasa, Facebook and Instagram allowing you to have access to ALL your photos.
– I’ve seen the print quality and it’s really great.
– They don’t tell you the prices upfront. At least, I couldn’t find it. You can choose a style and a template, but without knowing how much it’s going to cost, all my hard work might be for nothing!
– They let you choose 4 styles, but they’re all very limited. Basically, do you want a white background, black background, color background or no background? Well what if I want a combination? Couldn’t figure that out.
– Once I was in the interface I couldn’t even upload my photos. It kept giving me an error message, and by this time I was ready to find a different solution
Overall Rating: 1 out of 5
2. Mixbook // I had never heard of this company before I started looking. Unlike all the other apps on this list, Mixbook only does photo books, so you’d think they would do it the best… wrong!
– The template designs they make you choose from have a lot of photos per page. This could also be a con if like me you prefer simplicity and follow the less is more philosophy.
– Tied for cheapest price: $30 gets you a square hardbound book with 20 pages (10 sheets)
– Designs are kinda cheesy… not the worst I’ve seen, but not the best. This kind of fancy script and lots of flourishes just looks cheap to me.
– Worst of all, they don’t let you play around in the software before registering! So annoying. I moved on at this point.
Overall Rating: 2 out of 5
3. Wedding Paper Divas powered by Shutterfly // This company has wonderful templates for wedding stationery, so I was hopeful their photo books would be just as good. Again, I was disappointed.
– Connect to Facebook and Instagram to access all your photos, and obviously Shutterfly.
– Gives you lots of photos per page like Mixbook
– Offers large text spaces if you wanted to write more of a story to go along with your photos.
– Average priced: $45 for 8×11 hard photo cover with 20 pages (10 sheets)
– These templates weren’t as bad, but they weren’t all great.
– The interface didn’t load the thumbnails of my images! So the only way to know which ones were uploaded was to look at the file name. Obviously this wasn’t going to work for me. Not sure if this is a bug on their end, or something went wrong with my upload.
Overall rating: 3 out of 5
4. Apple iPhoto // They started it all way back when. Unfortunately I don’t have iphoto anymore, but what I’ve seen looks pretty great.
– You can design on your ipad which is pretty awesome.
– Tied for cheapest at $30 for 8.5×11 20 page book (not sure if this is hardbound)
– Templates aren’t too cheesy… only slightly.
– The app is super easy to use, and if you’re already storing your photos there, that makes it all the easier
– Costs 4.99 to download from the app store
Overall rating: 4 out of 5
5. Pinhole Press // A great site for all kinds of custom photo products.
– By far the best user interface I tried. Fast, simple, and easy to use.
– Templates are really simple and beautiful. Just photos on a white background which lets your beautiful images shine.
– Cloth spine detail elevates this to a real keepsake.
– I’ve ordered other products from them before and the quality is wonderful.
– Limited fonts and colors. I wish I could select a slightly brighter color for the spine that would match my wedding colors. Also they have 2 fonts to choose from: their “Classic” serif and a super round sans-serif they call their “Modern” style. I don’t really like either. I wish I could choose not to have text so I could upload my own design.
– Most expensive: $85 for 8.75” square with 30 pages and 61 photos
Overall rating: 5 out of 5
Before I start designing my photo book with Pinhole Press, I think I will purchase the iPhoto app just to give it a try. Even if I don’t end up using it for this project, it’s a great tool to organize my photos and I’ve missed not having it.
Do you have experience with any of these apps? Or is there one I missed? I’d love to hear!