Printing services for personal Coffee Table Book
February 6, 2011 12:18 AM   Subscribe

Printing services for a Coffee Table book with my own photos and text. Details inside...

I am looking for personal experiences, if possible with images/quick videos, of professional quality coffee table book publishers.

I have about 30 photos from my travels around the world that are really good and I was thinking of getting them printed as a nice coffee table book. Catch:

1. I don't want too many copies. One now and a few later to give to family and friends

2. I need it in real professional quality - hardcover with one of the photos and a slip with the same photo. Pages inside are of the nice glossy quality

3. Not sure of the sizes possible and the resolution needed. Since most of the photos are from a 6 MP with more than 2000 pixels on both sides, I am thinking this should be good for 12x12

4. I am fairly handy with software, typography, but a sample print would be extremely great

Does this type of service exist? I am in Denver, CO, if that matters, but I am willing to pay for shipping from anywhere in the US, even for sample prints of my photos.
posted by theobserver to Media & Arts (23 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
Not based in the US i'm afraid, but Photobox in the UK does decent ones. Not cheap mind.
posted by Fezzer at 2:03 AM on February 6, 2011

Blurb can do photo books (and other books as well) of low volume runs and outstanding quality.
posted by nickrussell at 2:24 AM on February 6, 2011

iPhoto print products are great.
posted by hannahlambda at 2:25 AM on February 6, 2011

I've been happy with blurb.
posted by munichmaiden at 3:05 AM on February 6, 2011

I've also been pleased with Blurb. I've done soft and hard cover, small and large format, single copies and small runs (5).
posted by cocoagirl at 3:58 AM on February 6, 2011

Blurb again.
posted by gonzo_ID at 5:05 AM on February 6, 2011

FWIW MeFi's answer is *always* Blurb so when I needed to do this job, I went to Blurb first. Ultimately, though, I setup, laid out and printed with the Snapfish software. The site is shit but I liked the layouts that came as a starting point, it was very easy to use, and the print results were great.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:11 AM on February 6, 2011

I did something similar (photos from a particular vacation with some narrative about the vacation, one copy for us, one for a relative ... with the option to order more) and was delighted with Blurb.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:46 AM on February 6, 2011

Yeah, I'm another one for blurb. I've been using it for years, and while snapfish/shutterfly/etc. work well for the small books, I think that blurb is the best for the larger/coffee-table books.
posted by math at 6:01 AM on February 6, 2011

Not sure if they have an option to suit you, but as another option, CreateSpace prints books on demand, and is under the umbrella. If seeking to sell said book, getting it on Amazon is a very easy process.
posted by chrisinseoul at 6:46 AM on February 6, 2011

I've used both Mixbook and SmileBooks. I've used Snapfish for other photo products and been very happy with them.
posted by peanut_mcgillicuty at 7:10 AM on February 6, 2011

Adorama prints on photo paper and has a lay flat binding, and the quality is fantastic! I printed our wedding albums there and they definitely look professional. They've recently expanded their size and page count options, so they're a lot more flexible. They definitely do 12x12.

I have also used Shutterfly to do a couple books (engagement pictures and a couple vacation photo books) and I've been very impressed with their quality. Their software is really easy to use, too, and they have good templates.

You may also want to check out MPIX and Bay Photo which are the consumer arms of professional printing services. Both of them offer really nice press printed books. I've also heard good things about Picaboo and MyPublisher, but have never tried them.
posted by echo0720 at 8:07 AM on February 6, 2011

Adoramapix is the printing site for Adorama. They offer 12X12 hardcover books. The paper is very robust Fuji paper and the quality is great. The bindings are lay flat which is a love it or hate it binding style depending on who you ask. Here's a video link to a Adorama book review. Here's adoramas own somewhat annoying sales pitch
posted by Procloeon at 8:45 AM on February 6, 2011

I like PhotobookCanada and I think they have sites for lots of countries.
posted by meringue at 9:08 AM on February 6, 2011

Thanks for the great responses. I looked at Blurb about an year ago (the pictures of the outputs were not so great, leaving me doubtful) and smilebooks more recently (same case here).

What would be the best size for a large Coffee Table book (8x12, 12x12)?

If any of you have some pictures of your photo books that you can share with me, that would be immensely useful for my peace of mind.
posted by theobserver at 9:17 AM on February 6, 2011

I recommend A and I Books. They have a wide range of reasonably priced products and for the non-designer their custom layout software is great. For the designer, they accept PDF pages.

I have used Snapfish in the past and the books are just ok. The paper is a bit dodgy and they put a Snapfish logo on the last page.
posted by Fuzzy Dog at 9:27 AM on February 6, 2011

There is also Lulu which I can't vouch for personally but may be worth a peek.
posted by JJ86 at 10:03 AM on February 6, 2011

theobserver: "What would be the best size for a large Coffee Table book (8x12, 12x12)?"

You can look at a piece of standard photocopier or printer paper, which is 8 x 12, and see that it isn't really coffee table book sized. That's the minimum really, and you'd want to print landscape, but you want to go up in size from there if that's an option.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:15 AM on February 6, 2011

You might find this comprehensive comparison of photo-book printing services useful. Lots of details about paper quality, binding options, etc. Also, not every service has every size you might be interested in. I know a friend who swears by Blurb, but I recently used Photobook USA which offered a size of book Blurb didn't (I think?) and was just as pleased with those results. Happy book-ing!
posted by shortskirtlongjacket at 11:47 AM on February 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have used MyPublisher and been very happy with the results. The OnDemand printing service is the same that comes with Apple computers by default. I have not used the lay flat paper option.
posted by xammerboy at 7:21 PM on February 6, 2011

The link posted by shortskirtlongjacket is amazing. A comprehensive review of all the major printing services with video reviews of the books is all one can ask for.

Guess its up to me now to roll up my sleeves and get the project done. The only thing I am afraid of is that my photos will not have enough resolution for a large full-page photo :(
posted by theobserver at 7:49 PM on February 6, 2011

I used Snapfish for my recent photobook creating jag, and I'm reasonably happy with the end product, but I'll note a couple of difficulties:

It's really wants you to just use whatever the hell random layouts and backgrounds it inserts, and even if you use the same layout on every page in your book, as soon as you insert more pages, they revert to whatever-the-hell. It ends up being a lot of clicking to get what you want, even if what you want is fairly basic, especially as you can't view the available photos and the layouts at the same time.

You seem to have to remember to assert your desire for a softcover book, even if you previously asserted that desire, since I ended up with hardcover books that were a) more expensive and b) not what I really wanted. They are nice, but I'm not sure how I ended up with them.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:44 AM on February 12, 2011

jacquilynne: I so know! After the great answers here, I tried some of the services with small photo books, but somehow, they did not turn up as expected. Maybe I was expecting too much, but I wanted my photobook like the professional ones you see at book stores.

These were more like full-page photos just bound up - not many font choices (if at all) for the text, laying out each page is a hassle, no hardcover with full page photo and softcover with the same photo (these seem to be available for store books!).

Thinking of looking for a custom book publishing shop, but going to try some others mentioned by shortskirtlongjacket
posted by theobserver at 8:10 AM on February 25, 2011

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