Mac users can also create books using iPhoto. Just a note that since I first published this piece, some prices have gone up. Keep an eye out for frequent deals. And as always, feel free to jump in with favorites and perspectives of your own. Shutterfly was the first digital service I ever used to store my pictures in the cloud.
These days, I turn to it more for photo gifts. It has an extensive offering that ranges from books and calendars to stationary and candles: Design options If you start on the Custom Path, you'll have over themes to choose from and up to six different cover choices including leather and crushed silk , while Simple Path has about 20 template styles options and keeps the covers simple.
Ease of use This website is more visually confusing than other sites, and you have to choose from various options right off the bat. The easiest one auto-fills photos for you, which you can move around the pages at will. You can loop in photos from sites like Picasa and Facebook, as well as from your computer.
Once the photos are in, it's easy to change the layout for the entire book. You can open a bird's-eye view to swap pictures, though dragging and dropping them around would be easier still. Simple Path is more constraining. You won't be able to change photo sizes or layouts, though you can remove and rotate pictures. You can convert Simple Path to a custom book through drop-down controls, which saves you from reuploading your snaps.
The custom track is infinitely more flexible, with page embellishments and red-eye reduction, plus photo effects you can apply onscreen. There are also controls for spacing and layering objects, and you can open a separate view to change layout elements like image size and the number of photos per page.
It takes awhile to become familiar with the more complicated options on the customized route. It's best for those who have time and patience, or a strong desire to make their books just so. In most cases, you pay a lit more for custom covers. The hardcover photo books I've ordered have lived up to their promise, including durable paper as a standard feature.
Reorders are a snap, too, since Shutterly saves all your past projects back to Despite the highest cost to create longer books and old-school navigation, Shutterfly is great for all levels. Mixbook has a more modern website than Shutterfly's, but also has fewer options. In addition to books, you can make calendars and cards. Design options The roughly themes to choose from are broken down into categories. Ease of use The site is cleaner to behold and easier to navigate than Shutterfly's in terms of narrowing down designs by category.
Adding photos is as simple as dragging and dropping from your computer, though you can upload and auto-fill as well. From the desktop site, you can upload photos directly from your computer or through third-party services.
I do like how clearly marked tabs make changing layouts and backgrounds extremely simple, and backgrounds and stickers are modern and attractive. One edge that Mixbook has is an ability for multiple collaborators to edit, which is useful if photos are spread out among family members or friends. Deluxe covers will cost much more, of course.
The photo books look good, though you'll need to pay attention to full-bleed photos whose edges will be obscured in a gutter. The title on the front cover of my book came out darker than I expected, and was shifted more to the left than I thought. Reorders and edits are straightforward after you log back in to your account. Overall, Mixbook's smoother creation experience and competitive prices make it a winner. Blurb is a site for the more serious self-publisher. I turned to it when making a memory book that was almost more text than pictures.
Blurb was the most flexible of the bunch in terms of large swaths of text. It also turned out to be the most frustrating to use. Design options When it comes to luxury paper choices, Blurb has the competition trounced.
You can download graphical themes in free packs of 20, but by default you're literally working with a blank canvas.
Plenty of templates help you get started on layouts, and there are tools for drawing and adding text much like a more traditional desktop publishing app. Ease of use The most powerful tool for those who want to control every detail, Blurb is also by far the hardest for casual book-makers to use. After that, placing words and art are up to you. You can insert photos from your computer, but there's no integration with third-party photo sources. The biggest problem for my book of short stories and memories was in formatting the text to make it fit just so.
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