PROS / Lulu's online book editor is easy to use, and you can choose between seven book sizes.
CONS / The editor doesn't have any built-in photo editing tools, and Lulu only offers three cover options.
VERDICT / Decent quality, affordability and user friendliness make Lulu a good option for hobbyists and those who want to create personal photo books.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been replaced by another product. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
Lulu is an online self-publishing service that allows you to publish and sell your own books, photo books and calendars. For consumers and photo book hobbyists, Lulu constitutes an easy-to-use and affordable photo book service. While it's not as feature rich or robust as some comparable photo book publishers, Lulu delivers decent print quality and has an intuitive design process.
Lulu delivers most of the features and functionality we expect from an online photo book service, including a web-based editor and album sharing. The service also provides a variety of themed templates, which are ideal if you lack the desire or time to design your own. Some of the template themes include Classic, Wedding, Vacation and more. Lulu's editor also provides an array of border options. Aside from photos, the borders and other design embellishment Lulu offers allow you to give each page your own personal touch. Our only real complaint with Lulu's editor is that it doesn't have photo editing tools (e.g., cropping, red-eye removal, etc.), so make sure that the photos you upload are ready to be printed as is.
Lulu offers seven sizing options. The smallest is 3.75 x 2.5 inches, which is a compact option that's ideal for gifting or portable photo books. The largest size available is 13 x 11 inches and is a great choice for photo-heavy projects, such as a wedding album. Unfortunately, Lulu is not as diverse when it comes to cover options, offering only hardbound, softbound and leather. While these standard options will appeal to most people, other top photo book services offer several other cover options, and Lulu would benefit from doing so as well.
The quality of Lulu's photo books is definitely above average. Photos retain their original colors and resolution. For the best quality possible, the service recommends a minimum photo resolution of 300 DPI. Using lower-resolution photos is likely to yield lower quality print results. The editing software will warn you if an image has a resolution that is too low and is likely to appear distorted when printed. All photo books are printed on silk-finished, glossy paper (a matte finish is not available).
When it comes to help and support, Lulu provides a handful of useful resources. The Lulu website hosts a FAQs section and user community. The latter allows you to engage with other Lulu customers. Additional technical support is available via email; telephone support is not offered.
Although Lulu publishes a wide range of products, the quality of its photo books and design functionality don't suffer as a result. The service delivers good photo quality, and its user-friendly editing software provides most of the essential features you need to create a custom photo book. Lulu's style options leave something to be desired, but they should suffice if you're creating a photo book for personal use.