Quality & Services
Shipping & Support
Best Photo Books
Memories by the Book
In the last 12 months, we made 23 photo books. For this comparison, we tested 12 photo book makers and based our scores on each site's online interface, final product and overall usability. We used the same set of photos in each book so we could judge the quality of photo reproduction by each service. We only evaluated companies that offer landscape photo books and whose prices are comparable with others in our comparison. The best photo book experience was with Mixbook.com, thanks to its easy-to-use interface and plethora of templates and artistic embellishments. This company is good for both professionals and families due to the exceptional paper, print and book quality.
If you want to get super high-quality photo books for less money, AdoramaPix offers lay-flat books with fancy paper and beautiful printing at half the price of most other photo book companies. However, it doesn’t offer as many template and design options as Mixbook. Amazon Prints, a newcomer to the photo book industry, is one of the least expensive companies on the market that actually creates high-quality photo books.
Photo Books: How We Tested, What We Found
We built an 8 x 11-inch hard cover photo book, or the closest comparable size, with each site's online interface and scored the services based on the design options and quality of the finished product. This included the background options, embellishment aesthetics, strength of bindings, cover choices, paper types and gift options. We paid particular attention to how easily we could personalize and edit photo layouts. Sites with more intuitive interfaces and photo arranging tools scored higher in our review. Our top contenders have hundreds of different backgrounds to apply to your photo book pages, including themes for different holidays, occasions and events. The best photo book sites neatly organize their library of backgrounds, embellishments and layouts and allow you to easily rearrange images once you place them on a page.
Photo Books: What You Need to Know
Photo book services provide long lists of customization options. Because of this, prices vary based on which extra features you want. The cost of processing and shipping your photo book also varies based on the size, paper type, cover weight and number of pages you want. While these options may raise the price of your photo book, the best services at least provide you with these customization choices, which are nice for photo books documenting significant life events like weddings and births. When you include shipping and taxes, the average cost of ordering one 20-page, 11.5 x 8-inch photo book costs between $40 and $60. Shipping for one photo book usually costs between $7 and $12.
If you don't store all your images on your hard drive, that’s fine since the best online photo book services access photos from almost anywhere. Whether you store images on your computer or social networks like Facebook and Instagram, you can access your favorite pics for the photo book. This is especially useful for events like weddings where many people snap photos.
Photo books can also be used as guest books for weddings. Several of the services we reviewed offer photo books specifically designed to be wedding guest books, with pages that display photos of the wedding party and the couple's family, and include areas for guests to sign. If you don't like the predesigned books, you can create your own guest book using the service's formatting tools and templates. You can choose from dozens of book shapes and designs, as well as adding an engagement photo to the front cover.
Ease of Use
Designing photo books online should be easy with the best services. Many of these companies offer tutorials before you get started to show you all the controls for editing, cropping and arranging your photos. The editing capabilities don't match real photo editor software, but you can at least zoom in and out of photos or crop and resize them. The best editors have text tools with long lists of stylish fonts and colors. Often, predesigned book templates provide spaces for more than one photo on a page. You can follow these templates or adjust them as you see fit. Even if you choose a predesigned template, the customization features allow you to make a personalized photo book.
Whether you opt for a predesigned book or a completely blank slate, the photo book editor should import your images quickly from any source online or from your hard drive. Some photo book sites allow you to autofill your book with images. This is a great way to get started while you still have the option to arrange and rearrange images throughout the book.
Processing time is another indicator of quality. On average, custom photo books take up to five days to process and ship. While it's good to know these services take time printing and perfecting the pages, this is a disadvantage if you want your books to arrive in only a day or two.
You want as many design options for the outside of your book as the inside. When finishing your photo book, look for a variety of size and cover options. Often, hard and soft covers are available, and sometimes you can opt for leather or fabric covers. These options are more expensive, but they add dimension and value to your book. Many services provide the option for dust jackets or special binding that changes how the book sits. Lay-flat covers, for example, are great for large panoramic photos and allow you to see more of the image you place on the page.
As with covers, the price of your photo book changes based on the size. Square and rectangle books often cost about the same, but you can choose larger sizes in each shape. Usual sizes in custom photo books are similar to those you may see in a bookstore. Children's books look good in a small 8 x 8-inch square while large family albums can sit on the shelf with others at 11 x 14 inches. Many photo book services make large books roughly the size of typical coffee table books.