Shutterfly vs. Blurb?

Discussion in 'Digital Darkroom' started by gary_anthes, Feb 10, 2017.

  1. Can anyone compare Shutterfly and Blurb for making hardbound photo books? My No. 1 criterion is quality, but I care about price and ease of use of the software.
  2. I know others have liked the results from Shutterfly, but I've never gotten anything from them where the colors were right. They've also always looked cheap to me (plenty of relatives have used them and sent me the prints and books). I've only used Blurb once, but plan on using them again soon for a couple of projects. I'd guess Shutterfly is cheaper, but you can check that on their sites. Blurb's software was easy the first time - it's changed since then, so I hope it's still easy.
  3. Shutterfly's presses are optimized for sRGB. Of course, they don't tell you.

    I'm looking for a book printer to replace MyPublisher, which is going out of business May 8th. A year or two ago, they were acquired by Shutterfly. Without telling customers, they moved from RGB to sRGB, gutted customer service and put MyPublisher into a death spiral. Shutterfly's CEO is paid bonus based purely on sales volume. I'm never doing business with them again, after MyPublisher disappears. I'm looking for alternatives, but Shutterfly is definitely not one.
  4. I used Blurb for my photo book 3 years ago, and was not pleased with the color rendition. They were not willing to do anything about it, customer service was terrible.
    digitaldog likes this.
  5. david_henderson


    Can't speak for Shutterfly, but I have made a dozen or more books with Blurb, all on their original "Booksmart" software ( they have other tools). I've been happy with what I've had back. Colours are decent, and they have a soft-proofing tool that I also use. You might find the following of some use:-

    • Blurb are quite expensive. But they run a lot of short term promotions up to 40% off to even out their volume. Best to have the pics for a book ready to go so you can take advantage of them.
    • I find it best to pay for a premium paper ( premium lustre in my case) as they're thicker and I can print both sides OK. Feels good too.
    • I fear the "poor customer service " comment may well be right. On the upside- if you do a decent job on file prep, you won't need it much. I had a lengthy debate over some little promotional books they made for me where they charged much more for shipping than they charged for a hardback book of bigger size, volume and weight. It was like talking to a wall. Got nowhere. Think they must employ people with the specific ability only to see the company's point of view, right or wrong.
    • I've had accurate colour and neutral or toned b&w. Bear in mind that absolute deadly accuracy is difficult when your comparing a screen image with a reflective print. I tend to increase saturation and brightness a fraction over what their profile ( downloadable) indicates to take a step in the direction of "screen".
  6. "My No. 1 criterion is quality,"

    Then why are you looking at these guys?
  7. Sounds like you're ready to contribute to the thread. Who do you use and recommend?
  8. I have used Blurb and Shutterfly and prefer Blurb for quality. As others have already mentioned, Blurb is not cheap but they do run specials that help with price.
    I have heard good things from Adorama books but have no personal experience with them for publishing a book.
  9. How does one optimize a digital press (any press) for sRGB? They may require you send the data in sRGB which is not optimal. There is no such thing as any sRGB printing device (it is based on an emissive display).

    FWIW, Blurb out of Lightroom is sent sRGB data. In Aperture the data was sent in Adobe RGB (1998); better. Too bad that’s no longer an option; it was the only use I had for Aperture: printing books. In any case, the RGB working space data is converted to CMYK. As for quality, I ran two books with identical images to Blurb and through Aperture (Apple’s print providers). The Apple work was vastly better in quality and color matching. I placed the same image on the cover as inside. Why? A different press technology is used to print the covers than the inside of the book. They should ideally match. That’s not easy to do. The Apple product was much closer (cover to inside) than the Blurb book. Blurb supplies an ICC profile for soft proofing but don’t waste your time! The Blurb ICC profile is definitely GRACoL2006 Coated1, right down to the paper white L*a*b*. What they're using is essentially a copy of the IDEAlliance GRACoL profile and has little to do with how they're actually printing. And they want you to believe that whatever paper stock you use, you can also use this profile which is just a ridiculous concept.
    wogears likes this.
  10. I was not comparing their print with my screen. I was comparing their print with other prints from the same file, one made by me with my Epson 2200, one made by Costco, one made on a large-format Canon printer, and a post card made by Next Day Promotions postcard printer. All 4 prints match quite closely, the book is not even close. White balance is way off and color saturation is to high.
  11. My Blurb books were okay; my Adorama book was excellent. None of the online/downloadable software I've seen is equal to Adobe InDesign or even MS Publisher.
    Charles_Webster likes this.
  12. We're going through the same search compliments of MyPublisher.

    WHCC (Whitehouse) have proven the best quality for us for several years but can be pricey. When we need absolute quality that's where we go. We had found MyPublisher to be quite good as well though (and noticeably better than Blurb or Shutterfly) and for a bit less money than WHCC. Their app could be quite frustrating and rather limited in capabilities. My wife used it, I didn't.

    ProDPI (now owned by WHCC) might also be an option to look at.
  13. I've done one Blurb book - a prototype, and it came out very well. Color was accurate. I did another copy, sent in at a different time, and it also came out right as well. I bought a book done by a friend from London, and both of her books were done well by Blurb. I've used shutter fly for holiday cards, and they came out well. I think I would probably go with Blurb for books though. I believe I read somewhere that it also depends on where you are uploading from as it will go to different printers? Haven't verified it though if true, it might explain why many people get good consistent results while others not so much.
  14. Let me guess. There’s a color cast over the B&W images that range from magenta to green to actually (maybe) neutral and it moves about the page. If you printed a page with solid gray, you’d notice an actual pattern and that’s due to the screening used.
  15. How accurate? :rolleyes:

    You mean you found the color pleasing and maybe even matching some other similar output.

    Delta-E and color accuracy

    In this 7 minute video I'll cover: What is Delta-E and how we use it to evaluate color differences. Color Accuracy: what it really means, how we measure it using ColorThink Pro and BableColor CT&A. This is an edited subset of a video covering RGB working spaces from raw data (sRGB urban legend Part 1).

    Low Rez:
    High Rez: and Color Accuracy Video.mp4
  16. "How accurate? :rolleyes:

    You mean you found the color pleasing and maybe even matching some other similar output."

    Well using scientific terms, I'd say it pretty-much matched the files as they looked in LR. and matched a couple of prints I had done at Samy's Camera large. It looked very close, as well as contrast and brightness, I was pleasantly surprised by the results and it didn't seem hit and miss either as I had another of the same book with a couple of changes in the content and it came out the same. It seemed fine. A bit pricey though. I used the book module in LR.
    P.S. When I did the book I calibrated my monitors. Unfortunately I haven't calibrated them for over 6 months and I think they've drifted. <note to self-calibrate monitors>. I pulled the book out to compare now, and I would say that in the skies, the book carries a little bit more cyan in the skies, but I didn't notice that when I first got them back and I'm looking at it today in daylight different from when I normally do.
    Last edited: Apr 25, 2017
  17. Yep, that and other things. See the photos of the book in the link.
  18. If Blurb and Shutterfly are so-so, who makes better books?
  19. Apple! I’ve got the comparisons (two books) to prove it to me. But that was out of Aperture awhile ago.

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