Photobook recommendations

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Photobook recommendations

Postby primitive » Thu Jul 09, 2009 12:40 pm

This is a hit and run question, sorry but I've not had time to visit the forum much this month.

Can anyone recommend a good photobook printing service? I want to create a high quality (but reasonably priced) photobook of my recent wedding shoots. I've read reviews for a couple (viovio, blurb, picaboo) and all seem to get mixed reviews. Things that are important to me:

- High printing quality on high quality, durable paper. Not snobbish about it, but I do want my pictures to look as best as possible (both color and BW).
- Good album size and finishing selection. I want something either hard cover or leather bound (if I can afford it).
- Highly customizable. I would prefer to just upload a pdf with the book already laid out for printing rather than use the vendors in house tools (which so far I find limiting).
- Customer support, so that any questions about the process can be answered quickly.

I'll feel much more comfortable if someone on the forum could recommend a service they already tried, since as I said, most of the reviews online seem to be mixed and I can't verify the intentions of the reviewing author in most cases.

Postby primitive » Thu Jul 09, 2009 12:53 pm

Woops, I posted this in the wrong forum. Should have posted this in the online printing section!

Postby lomer18 » Thu Jul 09, 2009 1:35 pm

sure you did ost it in the wrong section :lol:

wait till moderators find out this or maybe pm them! :lol:

i don't know anything about the question just wanted to tell you welcome back.

You really love Sony thats why you mistakenly posted here :wink:

Postby PhilDiggle » Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:28 am

Know the threads a little old and not sure if you managed to source anything yet? But I've recently got a book published with Blurb, and the service was excellent in my opinion.

I made a 132 page book at 10" x 8" which cost me £44 delivered!! Here are my pros and cons:


* Fully Custom Design either through their own program or through PDF layouts

* Great Flexibility in book size

* Outstanding Print Quality

* Cheap!!

* Took nearly two weeks to reach me from the Netherlands (including printing, glueing time)

I also paid extra on the delivery to be within 2-4 days which meant I could also track the parcel which was very useful!

I priced the same type of book up on Jessops UK and their cost was £98 I think, so a tremendous saving!!

You get a choice of paper (well, two choices) and I went for the premium paper which is slighty heavier weight than normal. Paper quality was excellent, not flimsy at all. The colour put down on them was brilliant too.

I never tried Customer Support so I can't answer youon that one, but they do have their own blog site with tips and tricks and FAQ's on it, so I would say they're pretty good in that aspect.

Hope that helps?
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Postby primitive » Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:36 am

It does! I decided to take a plunge with Blurb, and I should get my book this week. Plan to do a review with pictures.

I'm a little worried about how everything will look, not because of blurb, but because I used Indesign CS4 (I have a copy at work, awesome programme) to create a layout PDF. There are so many things that can go wrong with using something like Indesign (transparency flattening, color management, etc.), but I like the flexibility so I will continue to print until I get the process correct.

The only problem with Indesign, it does not scale images as well as photoshop does, but its a pain to go through 500+ images and manually scale each in photoshop to the required size to fit in the layout frame. Oh well, I am hoping the quality is good enough.

Postby PhilDiggle » Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:45 am

Let us know of your outcome.

The new blurb software gives you the option to more or less customise the page layout to how you want - the only limitation is that you can't set things to overlap and rotate images to say 20degrees etc.

What you could have done was to set an action in Photoshop to scale your images for you and then used them in Indesign. Or use a program such as VSO Image Resizer which installs itself into Windows so all you have to do is right click on the images you want resized and it'll resize them to your specifications. It's a great little piece of kit!
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Postby popo » Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:48 am

Ooh, a photobook has been on my "to do" list for a while, and this sounds like the place as the prices seem very affordable. The other places I've been looking at come with rather steep initial setup costs.
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Postby PhilDiggle » Tue Sep 01, 2009 11:53 am

popo wrote:Ooh, a photobook has been on my "to do" list for a while, and this sounds like the place as the prices seem very affordable. The other places I've been looking at come with rather steep initial setup costs.

Popo, when compared to Jessops it's fantastic prices. Fair enough you've gotta wait, but it's not really a long wait if you get what I mean? Like I said, I priced one at Jessops (similar size, number of pages) and it was £98 as opposed to £35 (exc delivery) plus you only had the option of 4 layouts whereas blurb's got unlimited almost.

The prices on blurb are going up soon (EU something or other, I had an email about it) but I wouldn't have thought it would be increasing by a substantial amount.

Looking forward to shooting my next project so I can get another book done by blurb.
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Postby primitive » Sat Sep 05, 2009 12:15 pm

Still waiting on the book. It was delivered already, and is with customs here. I might get the book on Monday, and hopefully, all will be well.

The problem with resizing is that, I don't usually know before hand, what frame size I am going to use for a particular image. So, one might get scaled up to 18x24 while another might need to be 10x10. So, my current workflow involves designing the book, laying out the pictures in the frames, and then, based on the frame dimensions, open each image in photoshop/gimp to resize (all 400+ :? ). Its a pain, and I hope there is a better way to do it?

One complaint against blurb though: They don't have an "express" printing service, i.e. If I need a book right away, I should be able to pay for the book getting printed within 1 day and shipped in 1 day. Currently, the only influence on timeline is that I can pay for next day shipping, but if the book takes 1 week to print, express shipping is not necessarily going to be of much use. Maybe they can introduce this sometime soon, but I think its a workload issue, and maybe blurb has way more customers than printing power.

Postby primitive » Mon Sep 07, 2009 9:03 pm

So, I got the book 1hr ago :D , and this is a mini-review (pictures follow later):

What I like

- Very happy with the print quality, colours, paper (I used premium). You haven't enjoyed your photos until you do a 12x12 print I think (and the Sony high ISO noise, looks pretty natural to me when printed big, but thats just my opinion)!
- The Image wrap was done very, very well!
- The entire process was painless, and I love that I can use Indesign as opposed to the fairly limited blurb application.

What I didn't like

- The front cover of my book has too small, but very visible holes (caused by what I assume to be "staples" piercing the cover). The holes are also on the shipping box, but is taped over, so I guess this happened during the packaging for shipping.
- The spine of the book is bent badly at the bottom of the book, and appears to have been crushed during shipping. This might be a shipping issue, so maybe next time more care should be given in using suitable packaging, such as bubble wrap, etc.
- Some of the pages have small spots (very minor complaint, but could affect the archive-ability of the album) of what appear to be glue, which cause the pages to stick together. My concern about this is the long term damage that may occur.

Other than these issues I am very happy, but I would like the book replaced before I hand it off to my client (I understand the complexity of doing these things, but my client may not see it that way). Also, I plan to place around 10 more orders of these books, shipped directly to my clients family, and I want to make sure that these are just one off issues.

I did open a support request, but I think Blurb is pretty poor with support (based on what I read online), so I don't anticipate getting a response anytime soon.

I don't have any reservations with using blurb again, and I suspect these issues are one off and I just got unlucky this time. I have about 3 more books to order, so at the end of that process, I'll evaluate and probably give the other vendors a go. But, again, if you've never printed a book, YOU HAVE TO TRY IT!!!!!

Postby PhilDiggle » Mon Sep 07, 2009 9:36 pm

Thats pretty unlucky with the spine issue. I would have thought that it would most definately be a shipping issue...

Hope your next book has less flaws in it - but being able to see your photos printed in such a manor (in my mind) overcomes the small blemishes!
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Postby primitive » Mon Sep 07, 2009 11:11 pm

Well, blurb just contacted me and asked for pictures of the problem. Hopefully I'll get around to doing it tonight.

As I said, very happy with the quality, and I'm pretty sure this is a one off thing (the stapling is odd though), and since blurb prints from different print houses, I guess its the luck of the draw.

Plus, can't complain about the price, which was about $140.00 shipped (hardcover, image wrapped, premium paper, custom logo, 120 pg).

I'm in the process of uploading another album for a wedding I did 1 month ago. I'm behind schedule, but hopefully I can have the album in hand by next week (so annoying not to have an express option though!).

Postby keystrokesuk » Tue Sep 08, 2009 8:39 am

It seems lots of places are now providing this type of service, has anyone used any of the supermarket offerings? They all seem to be an automated service and rely on you to get the layout and image quality correct whilst the service provider just crunches the files through their printer and binding machine.

Asda (Wal-Mart) ... nding.aspx
Tesco ... tobook.jsp
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Postby primitive » Sat Sep 12, 2009 12:23 pm

Well, I got in touch with Blurb, and after 2 short communications, I got a full "refund". Actually, the refund is a promo_code for the value of what I paid.

This is pretty good, and I am able to keep the damaged book as a showpiece for potential clients. I've ordered 1 more book (haven't used the promo code yet) and I should get that late next week. Hopefully all will go as planned.

So far, can't complain about the customer support and the product, but they can do better with the shipping by packaging the boxes better, or at least label the box as fragile.

Also, wish they offered a bigger size book! 12X12 Just isn't enough sometimes :lol: , I'm thinking 18x18 would be sweet!

@keystrokesuk: I live in the outlands, so my options are very limited. But, if the store brands use the same model as blurb (highly possible since blurb is only the front company, and hands books off to publishers), then I would anticipate similar quality, albeit at a higher price.

Postby primitive » Mon Sep 21, 2009 2:48 pm

OK, so second book arrived from blurb with a big problem. I ordered premium paper, but the book I got was sent with a very low quality regular photo paper, which is not suitable for someone's wedding album.

I've asked for a refund, but this is getting irritating and is wasting my time, while simultaneously damaging relationships with clients. Hopefully they can sort this out as I really want blurb to work.

They have most everything I need:

- Reasonable price.
- Largest album size available.
- Good quality paper.
- Ability to print from PDF created in Indesign.

But, that being said, this is truly, truly frustrating and irritating. I have 2 more albums to print, and if these aren't perfect...bye bye blurb.

*** Edit ***

Found these links that might help to explain blurbs issues:

- ... 875256585/


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