Luminous Landscape Forum

Raw & Post Processing, Printing => Printing: Printers, Papers and Inks => Topic started by: syncrasy on February 14, 2017, 12:18:13 PM

Title: Photo books - latest experiences? (US 2017)
Post by: syncrasy on February 14, 2017, 12:18:13 PM
I used to get my single-copy photo books made by MyPublisher, which has announced it is shutting down business (and is referring customers to sister company Shutterfly). MyPublisher's quality was very good (even for black & white).

Now I'm looking for a new service in the United States to print quality single-copy books. Color and black & white. 8x11 or 8.5x11 or 8x12 inches (landscape) with printed cover or printed dust jacket. Customizable layout options.

A recent review in Jan 2017 (http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-photo-books,review-2651.html (http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-photo-books,review-2651.html)) ranks Mixbook and Shutterfly highest (9/10). I was surprised to see them rate Apple Photos so low (5/10) since I had read from Aperture users a few years ago that Apple print quality was among the best.

I'm also looking at PrestoPhoto (https://www.prestophoto.com). They will accept PDFs created by Apple Photo, Aperture, etc., for a lower price than Apple's. But apparently they apply a different cropping technique, which means possibly the inconvenience of having to manually adjust captions, etc.

Does anyone have any recent experience with Apple Photos, PrestoPhoto, Mixbook, or Shutterfly?
Title: Re: Photo books - latest experiences? (US 2017)
Post by: stockjock on February 14, 2017, 04:51:46 PM
I used to get my single-copy photo books made by MyPublisher, which has announced it is shutting down business (and is referring customers to sister company Shutterfly). MyPublisher's quality was very good (even for black & white).

Now I'm looking for a new service in the United States to print quality single-copy books. Color and black & white. 8x11 or 8.5x11 or 8x12 inches (landscape) with printed cover or printed dust jacket. Customizable layout options.

A recent review in Jan 2017 (http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-photo-books,review-2651.html (http://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-photo-books,review-2651.html)) ranks Mixbook and Shutterfly highest (9/10). I was surprised to see them rate Apple Photos so low (5/10) since I had read from Aperture users a few years ago that Apple print quality was among the best.

I'm also looking at PrestoPhoto (https://www.prestophoto.com). They will accept PDFs created by Apple Photo, Aperture, etc., for a lower price than Apple's. But apparently they apply a different cropping technique, which means possibly the inconvenience of having to manually adjust captions, etc.

Does anyone have any recent experience with Apple Photos, PrestoPhoto, Mixbook, or Shutterfly?

My only experience has been with Blurb and MyPublisher.  I felt MyPublisher had better quality but their software drove me nuts.  I love that fact that Blurb lets you create a book in Lightroom but the actually print quality isn't particularly good.  After seeing your post I did upload a PDF file generated from Lightroom of my last Blurb book and it actually uploads really nicely to PrestoPhoto.  I have no idea about the quality of their printing but if I were you I would give that a try.  Their pricing also seems fair and if they offer discount codes then the pricing might even be attractive.  If you do try them or Mixbook I would love to learn more about how your books turned out.
Title: Re: Photo books - latest experiences? (US 2017)
Post by: syncrasy on July 05, 2017, 10:02:29 PM
Here's my report of my first photo book experience (after MyPublisher went out of business)...

I was creating a new book, not using a PDF from an existing book, so I was starting from scratch. My subject matter was birds/nature.

First, I considered but decided not to use the following:

Not having access to my personal fonts is frustrating since I have a preferred font for book cover text that isn't available in online tools. The workaround is to create a separate cover image in Photoshop with the text in the image, but I wanted to avoid that workaround if possible so that I could play around with text placement after seeing the actual trim lines.

I decided to go with Blurb. I chose an 10 x 8 inch hardcover image wrap book with premium luster gloss paper. This size is smaller than the MyPublisher size I had been used to (11.25 x 8.75") and isn't ideal for 35mm aspect ratio or wide landscape photography, but in the end I decided it was not a deal breaker for bird photos. I simply cropped my photos to suit the page. The main reason I chose Blurb was because of its excellent desktop software (BookWright). Not only does it allow access to my personal fonts, but it is easy to use, is smartly designed, and is very customizable (you can save custom text / photo layouts for reuse). It also has auto pagination, which saves time. And it never crashed while I was using it. I did spend a lot of time creating my custom layouts, though, since the default layouts didn't suit my needs. The 40% discount code was a nice bonus.

I ordered my books on June 28 and they arrived today July 5 -- extremely fast service -- and I'm happy to report that the book quality is very good. The image wrap cover has a nice matte finish. (I decided to forgo the dust jacket; while a dust jacket likely would have been more vibrant, it adds labor to the book creation process and is an annoyance for readers.)

Interior page quality is very good. I was concerned that the 100# premium luster gloss paper would not be as good as MyPublisher's 120# satin paper, but I need not have been concerned. Color fidelity is excellent and the weight and texture are just fine.

I didn't choose an ISBN/publishing option, but it's nice to know that Blurb offers that service.

In short, I'm very happy with the Blurb book.

Having said that... If I were making a book of images with wider aspect ratios/crops (e.g., 12x8) that I didn't want to alter, and I wanted to maximize the amount of image on the page with little wasted space, Blurb would not be completely satisfying. But I might decide to accept the tradeoff if I can have personal font access and better layout flexibility.
Title: Re: Photo books - latest experiences? (US 2017)
Post by: rdonson on July 05, 2017, 10:33:49 PM
Hi Mark, which tools did you use to create your Blurb book?  Lightroom?  Book Wright? 
Title: Re: Photo books - latest experiences? (US 2017)
Post by: syncrasy on July 05, 2017, 10:43:59 PM
Hi Mark, which tools did you use to create your Blurb book?  Lightroom?  Book Wright?

Ron, I used BookWright. (I mentioned it in the writeup.) I don't have Lightroom, just Photoshop. BookWright's customization features are excellent.
Title: Re: Photo books - latest experiences? (US 2017)
Post by: rdonson on July 06, 2017, 08:42:55 AM
Thanks, Mark. Somehow I missed that the first time through.

Thanks for sharing your experiences and thought process.