PROS / SmileBooks offers both downloadable editing software and an online book builder. Eight sizing options are available.
CONS / The service doesn't offer international shipping or a large quantity discount.
VERDICT / The SmileBooks' online editor is an excellent choice if you want to create a photo book as quickly as possible.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been replaced by another product.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.
SmileBooks is a photo book publisher that prides itself on making it "real simple" to create "real photo books." Most photo book services are not difficult to use, but SmileBooks is particularly notable for how accessible and user friendly it is. The service offers both downloadable editing software and a lighter online version that helps expedite the design process. Flexibility aside, SmileBooks offers decent quality and standard sizing options.
SmileBooks' downloadable editor offers a large range of design and editing features. You can edit your photos (such as cropping and adjusting hues) directly in the software and customize text. The software gives you the flexibility to place photos and text anywhere you want, or you can use one of many themed templates as a foundation for your photo book. You can even do a panoramic background where one photo spans two pages, similar to a magazine spread.
The SmileBooks online book builder is lighter in functionality and is designed to help you create photo books quickly and efficiently. You upload your photos and select a layout; the builder automatically fills the layout with your selected photos. In theory, this is a convenient option, but unless you truly don't care about photo placement, you're likely to spend just as much time rearranging photos as you would placing them individually.
Whether you want a landscape or portrait photo book, SmileBooks offers a book size that's right for your project. The service boasts eight sizing options, including a massive panorama album that measures 16.5 x 12 inches. Its cover options aren't quite as diverse, but the four that SmileBooks offers are among the most common: hardbound, softbound, cloth and leather.
SmileBooks offers decent photo quality, but its paper and binding quality are what really shine. The service uses thick, premium paper in every custom photo book, and its bindings are durable and built to last. SmileBooks even offers a lay-flat binding.
We found most of what SmileBooks offers to be satisfactory, but the service is sorely lacking a few key features. The majority of online photo books we reviewed come with a large quantity discount. This means the publishers offer a discount if you purchase additional copies of a photo book. SmileBooks does not, nor does it offer international shipping, though it does ship to Canada. Lastly, the photo books only come in a glossy finish; matte is not an option.
Despite lacking a few of the key features we sought in photo books, SmileBooks is a decent option overall. Its book quality is respectable, there are several sizing options and you can create photo books either online or on your own desktop.