Comparing Photo Book Publishing Services

Discussion in 'Education' started by debwire, Jun 20, 2006.

  1. I am trying to determine a publisher of my photo books for my portfolio as well as my clients. Has anyone compared or used the following publishers? Which is best? Do you design photo books for clients and if so, what is the average fee for such a service and product? Any ideas, thoughts, feedback is appreciated.
    Shutterfly
    Fastback Creative Books
    Digifilm Labs VioVio
    Print and Share
    Qoop
    100 Books Publishing
    Xlibris
    Album Printer Software
    Print My Photobook
    Picaboo
    MyPublisher
    Vision Art Book
    Any additional publishers to consider?
     
  2. What kind of book and publisher you are looking for? All on your list (except 100 Books) seem to be digital short run publishers, not based on normal offset printing. This is fine if you plan to make 1-20 copies, but for any decent volume (a few hundred) the total cost will become astronomical.
     
  3. I'm referring to the single run kind, not mass publishing (yet). Eventually I would like to publish a photo book of my works but not ready for that yet. In the meantime, I'm seeking the best bang for my buck for custom photo books I create for individual customers with the most imporant factor being high quality printing. I've seen a mix of reviews (e.g, Lulu's photo print quality being poor, etc.) for various services and wish to find one and stick with it for a while. I'm seeking recommendations from anyone who has used the above services.
     
  4. I recently used Lulu, and while I like many of their services, well heck I like everything about them except their printing. They are basically doing color Xeroxs and that is the quality of their work. I have seen much better quality out of other companies, but Lulu is great because you can have complete control over your own design and layout, well in fact you have to, plus you can offer downloads of your book through their site for a royalty that goes to you. But alas the print quality is just not great... Keep an eye on them though if they ever get a new printer, they will be an excellent site. I am in the same situation as you, checking out various publishers, preferrably those without the standard cheesy cover that most seem to offer.
     
  5. Deb and Zeb, please post the results of your searches and comparisons.
     
  6. I will definitely post some feedback once I find an appropriate publisher.

    Side note, though:

    I just read the TOS for some of the above listed sites and they offer photo book publishing for PERSONAL USE only -- not commercial (which is what I want to use it for). Hmmm...
     
  7. Hi Deb,

    A friend referred me to MyPublisher after seeing some landscapes I shot in Sedona, Az. Apparently he was very pleased with their work. This company does very nice bindery work and offers various formats, sizes, options, and colors to choose from. However, I have had issues with print quality. On my first attempt, the print colors came out way over satutated - not even close to the digital image colors I was seeing on my PC or my home printer. They offered to reprint that job, but only offerred to do so at half the price of a new job. In other words, I had to fork out more money. I removed some of the color saturation with photoshop and when the second order came in, it was frought with more different printing flaws. This time there were very thin 1 pixel wide light colored lines running into about half of the images (same position on all affected images). I am in the process of working with them on this new problem, but it hasn't been easy - 12 emails back and forth and it still isn't resolved. Dealing with them on problems is not easy since they do not publish their phone numbers and prefer instead to send email. The bottom line: Excellent binding and from the outside, a very professional looking product. On the inside, I've only seen problems. Customer service needs improvement.
     
  8. Well, I myself was looking for some feedback on PrintMyPhotobook, but so far found only this thread.

    I needed to print some of my photos in bound books. Not for resale, just for family.

    I compared the options provided in the original posting (by Deb Brown) and discovered that, of all services, only PrintMyPhotoBook provides downloadable software that is usable without having to be connected to the Internet while editing my photobook. Its software will also let you review the end result before uploading your photographs to the Internet. For me, this is the only way to go.

    They also offer the book format that I want (8.6"x10"), while others provide limited selection - none of them to my liking.

    So, I thought I found the perfect match for me.

    However, when I tried to contact printmyphotobook.com with a technical question (via email), I received no answer.

    I sent them a second email, but still no answer.

    I looked for a different way to contact them, but they have neither phone number nor street address.

    Well... the order I was about to make is several hundred dollars worth, but now I am hesitant to provide my credit card number to an unknown entity that has only web presence, no phone number, no street address, does not answer emails - and has no ratings or reviews anywhere on the web...

    Since I have already invested quite some time organizing my photos into photobooks, using PrintMyPhotobook's software, I prefer getting
    positive feedback about PrintMyPhotobook.com, so that I can submit the order with peace of mind.

    But if that doesn't happen within a few days, of course I will have to start looking elsewhere.

    Do you know anything about PrintMyPhotobook.com?

    Thanks,
    George
     
  9. "only PrintMyPhotoBook provides downloadable software...For me, this is the only way to
    go."

    I think you've already decided to use this company since having software is "the
    only way to go" for you. To that end, it sounds like PrintMyPhotobook (catchy name) is the
    only one fitting your criteria...I've never heard of someone needing proprietary software
    before, so it's not an issue I've seen discussed or can offer any alteratives for. Apple's
    Aperture can arrange and order photo books (so can iPhoto), but I think that may be more
    horsepower than you're looking for.

    Congrats on finding these guys...never heard of 'em!
     
  10. James, for various reasons, I cannot be online while arranging my photobooks. This is a technical limitation that many software vendors found a way around it and are providing solutions for it.

    I am not looking for "owning software". I am merely looking for a way to compose my photobook while being offline - and either upload the entire finished book once it is completed or mail the company a CD (just like PrintMyPhotobook offers).

    Do you know of other companies who offer that? Did I understand you correctly that iPhoto and Apreture can do that? If so, I am rushing to check this out... Not only I am not fixated on PrintMyPhotobook, I actually decided *not* to use their services, since given what I described in my first posting here, they seem suspiciously unreliable.

    Thanks again for any tip you provide.

    George
     
  11. "I am merely looking for a way to compose my photobook while being offline - and either
    upload the entire finished book once it is completed or mail the company a CD (just like
    PrintMyPhotobook offer"

    I can't speak for any of the other services but I know Lulu doesn't require ANY online
    composition...it's ALL created offline with a simple single file upload (plus front and back
    covers) being the only thing between you and a published book. Keep in mind, I'm using
    PS and other programs lacking any template but my own imagination and Lulu's printing
    requirements.

    iPhoto and Aperture both allow you to design a photo book in their software enviornment
    and then publish it through a third-party publisher. It's all relatively streamlined and
    considered (iPhoto at least) to be one of the simplest ways to publish a book. Google
    "iphoto book" or "aperture book" and you should be able to find more detailed info.

    Hope this helps!
     
  12. Hi all, I have tried both Lulu.com and MyPublisher.com and MyPublisher wins hands down for quality. Lulu prints on a Xerox iGen3 machine, which I assume uses xerography technology. MyPublisher, I think, uses conventional four-color offset printing. Its books are far from perfect in the quality of reproductions, but they are pretty good and, in fact, as good as many of the photography books you'll find in book stores. I doubt you can do much better with a low-volume Internet-based service, but if anyone has special recommendations, please speak up!

    With MyPublisher you download free software and then can work locally to compose your book and then connect to upload. Although I have been working while connected, I just tried it unconnected and it seemed to work fine.

    I have produced two books so far in quantities of six each and with 60-90 pages each. Like Deb (see first post) I am looking for a practical and economical way to make books in moderate quantities. MyPublisher is cost-effective for very small quantities, and of course you can go to an ordinary publisher if you want 1,000+ copies. But how to produce books in runs of a few hundred? Deb, what have you found out so far?
     
  13. Well, after giving up completely on printmyphotobook.com (no response from them whatsoever - and this is even before I gave them any money...), I managed to learn about another publisher:

    www.blurb.com - you download a huge executable (37MB) named booksmart_BLURB_r1_1.2.1.8973.exe - which is still a Beta version and supports only one book orientation - landscape.

    http://heritagemakers.com - looks attractive, but again you can work on your book online only. I actually tried it with their "test drive" option - and it is slow to death.

    BTW, the Xerox iGen3 mentioned above is a $500,000 machine (at its most basic configuration) and is categorized as a digital printing press. Not your ordinary color laser printer... I am surprised that Lulu managed to provided quality that is inferior to MyPublisher's.
     
  14. i have seen apple computer books and they are great. you should check their website...
     
  15. I tried My Publisher and have the following observations.

    1. I found the quality lacking a bit.

    2. They only accept files as .jpg. I want to be able to send a file without loss (such as .tiff, .psd, .png, etc).

    3. They provide a downloadable application for layout. I found it easy enough to use.

    I only did this once. I am really looking for something a little better.
     
  16. I tried Blurb with its bookmaker software and found that the software crawled to halt after I had entered about 2 dozen large pictures. I've emailed tech support, but have not received a response. I liked the layouts and options in the software, but the sofware has to work. I've since downloaded PrintMyPhotoBook.com, this is the US version of www.printing-1.co.uk. I emailed to the UK company and received several answers, but none from the US office. I like their software. It is much more flexible than Blurb, you can use their templates, but can change, move, add elements, including panoramic shots that cover both pages. Blurb's pricing is cheaper, but if I can't get the software to work, I'll be trying PrintMyPhotoBook.com.
     
  17. Followup- Both companies have contacted me in response to questions, not 24 hours, but within 48 hours. Blurb suggested some technical things to try, it did not fix the slow performance. They have since said they have a new release that will be out in about 1 week, we will see. The U.S. office of PrintMyPhotoBook.com has replied to several questions I sent. If blurb fixes it's performance issues, I will try them as well, right now I'm working on 144 page large format book with PrintMyPhotoBook.com.
     

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