Which service should I use to put together a photo album for my wife?
March 3, 2015 8:34 AM   Subscribe

My wife's 40th birthday is coming up and I'd like to put together a book of photos accompanied by text. Which website/app/service would be good to use?

This seems to be one of those "tyranny of choice" situations; there are a million of these services, so I'm wondering which one(s) people here have had good experiences with in terms of ease of use/speed (I'd like to have it in my hands by March 28th if possible)/quality of product, etc.? We have a MacBook Air if that's relevant.

I don't want to do anything complicated; just a 4x6 photo on each page, with each accompanied by a short write-up. I want it to look good, so I don't mind splashing out a bit, cost-wise.
posted by The Card Cheat to Shopping (21 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
I use Apple's photobook service to make photobooks every Christmas. A couple of times I've tried to save money by going elsewhere and the quality is significantly worse. Even around Christmas, they deliver within a couple of weeks, so time shouldn't be an issue. It's nicely integrated into iPhoto, so if that's where you keep your images, it's almost a no-brainer.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:43 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

We have made many Apple photobooks. I have seen a fair share of shutterfly books as well.
But if you really want to make a good looking book go for AdoramaPix. They are more expensive but the quality is stunning. The look and feel of a hi end coffee table book. Start with a basic 8x8" book to get a feel how your virtual creations work out on paper. Over time you will get better at it.
Save all the image files plus a text file (not MS Word....) with the album on optical media and a usb stick. This way if something happens you have more options to reproduce the images and have more information about the images. Remember how much we can tell from some hand written notes on the back of an old photograph? Try to recreate this for your's.
posted by Mac-Expert at 9:03 AM on March 3, 2015

We use Photobook America. The lead time is a couple weeks, and the software interface can be touchy, but it's generally solid and the quality of the printed product is REALLY, REALLY GOOD -- I'm a fairly serious amateur photographer, and it's what I used for our fancy-pants wedding album.
posted by joyceanmachine at 9:10 AM on March 3, 2015

This site has a ton of reviews and stuff: http://www.photobookgirl.com
posted by primethyme at 9:33 AM on March 3, 2015

I have tried a few different services, and I have to say that Walgreens was the easiest - both to upload and to rearrange, as well as the least expensive (they always seem to have a coupon promotion; if not, wait a couple weeks). They shipped overnight, and the one time I had a problem with an image not coming out right in a book, they refunded my money immediately. The standard books look great, though I admit I don't know what they offer in terms of fancy covers or high-end paper or anything like that.
posted by Mchelly at 9:45 AM on March 3, 2015

I've used Shutterfly for this sort of thing, and the products have been consistently high quality. Their site and design system are also easy to use.
posted by Gneisskate at 11:09 AM on March 3, 2015

We have about a half-dozen books from Shutterfly (including a large, nice wedding album) at this point, which we discovered because my wife got several Groupons in a row. It's a little pricey without a Groupon, but the quality is generally good. I've always been completely satisfied with the internal pages, but be sure to go a step or two up from the bottom with respect to cover material, as the cheapest ones we got tended to warp after a while.

To be clear, you would upload the photos and text via their web interface and they would do absolutely everything else, and ship you the final result. You wouldn't do any printing whatsoever yourself.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 11:13 AM on March 3, 2015

Yep, ShutterFly. Or SnapFish -- my daughter does this several times per year.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:30 AM on March 3, 2015

I've used Shutterfly, and been very happy with both the book-making experience and the final product. Definitely look for deals/sales, as they do a LOT of those.
posted by rainbowbrite at 11:47 AM on March 3, 2015 [1 favorite]

I use shutterfly. Their customer service is also really good, in addition to the ease of making the photobook.
posted by gaspode at 12:02 PM on March 3, 2015

I'll just say that I specifically have used Walgreens and Shutterfly as alternatives to Apple. Shutterfly is OK, but still not as nice in terms of paper quality and print quality as Apple. The one book I had done at Walgreens was frankly terrible. I think I could have done almost as well on my color inkjet at home.
posted by Rock Steady at 12:16 PM on March 3, 2015

I believe strongly that photo prints, like sushi, are one of those things where you *really* get what you pay for. When you look at Shutterfly and AdoramaPix prints side by side (or, God forbid, drugstore prints) you can see the difference.
posted by gone2croatan at 1:07 PM on March 3, 2015

I used Blurb to do a photobook of my wedding. I got the premium paper. It's looks so good. Much much better colours and quality than snap fish.
posted by poxandplague at 1:22 PM on March 3, 2015

I like shutterfly, as mentioned above. Costco also does a great job and may be cheaper, if you have access to a Costco membership.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 1:53 PM on March 3, 2015

I usually use Shutterfly or MPix or similar services for photobooks, but I have to say I was very impressed with the quick turn around and ease of use when I recently made one with Blurb. The price was reasonable and they import from social media too, which really sped things up in my case. YMMV.
posted by geeky at 1:54 PM on March 3, 2015

Another vote for Shutterfly. My husband (also a MacBook owner) used them to make me a book just as you describe and it's beautiful.
posted by _Mona_ at 2:49 PM on March 3, 2015

Yup: Shutterfly. Coupons, discounts, etc. are ridiculously easy to find for them, with Groupon as an option, too. I doubt many people ever pay full price at Shutterfly.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 3:10 PM on March 3, 2015

AdoramaPix books are gorgeous, and they often have deals (often limited by size, shape) if you sign up for their email.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:16 PM on March 3, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks to all for the answers! Lots of good-sounding options here.
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:23 AM on March 4, 2015

Another vote for Blurb. I've done three different books with them and have been happy with the results.
posted by cnc at 3:58 PM on March 4, 2015

Response by poster: For the record, I went with an Apple photobook, and was very happy with the results (and so was my wife). Thanks again, everyone!
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:23 AM on March 31, 2015 [1 favorite]

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