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here are some links to different reviews...i think i am gonna use sharedink.com....supposedly it is where all pro photogs use to get their books because quality is better.

 

 

 

http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/re...ssage=13148897

 

 

 

http://www.epinions.com/content_145324019332

 

 

 

http://flagrantdisregard.com/index.p...ooking-part-3/

 

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Picture Perfect

Which Web sites create the best photo albums

 

I have never been much of a picture taker, but after my daughter was born two months ago, I started snapping photos at every sniff, yawn, and burp. Soon after I entered this Richard Avedon phase, however, I discovered the Catch-22 of digital photography: The more pictures you take, the harder they are to share. Gather everyone around your computer monitor? Boring. E-mail your online slide show? Grandma complains she can't log in.

 

Then I came across the self-published photo album. Almost every photo-sharing Web site, like Kodak.com and Shutterfly, offers the service, allowing you to publish your digital photos in a hardcover photo book. The cost ranges from $20 to over $100, depending on the size of the album and the options that you choose, and the albums are delivered within days.

 

But are the books worthy of my beautiful baby? To find out, I ordered a 20-page book of snapshots from six prominent photo-sharing sites. Although some offer albums of various sizes, I chose a standard size—about seven inches by five inches—for each book and evaluated the products using the following methodology:

 

Print quality (10 possible points): Are the images crisp? Grainy? I uploaded a variety of photographs, from close-ups to wide-angle outdoor shots. I also used different cameras: I took most with my 5-megapixel Sony, but I snapped some with a low-quality, old, 2-megapixel Kodak.

 

Cover quality (10 possible points): Is it pretty to look at it? Is it made from high-quality material? I designed the books to look like baby albums, choosing white covers over black and linen over leather when available.

 

Web site/software (10 possible points): All the Web sites promised that the books were easy to make. They lied. The simplest site required two hours of pointing and clicking. Some books took as long as four hours to create. So, I rated the services on ease of use. Can you upload multiple photos? Or does each picture have to be transferred individually? I also rated the sites on their production software. Some allow users to place photos anywhere on the page while others require captions or have restrictive templates. I also penalized sites that were not Mac-compatible.

 

Service (10 possible points)cheesy.gifid the book arrive on time? Could I call someone if I had problems? Could I return it?

 

Before I detail the results, a few introductory notes on the ways and means of photo-booking. First, you have to upload each picture in the exact condition that you want it to appear in the album—the Web sites don't allow you to do much more than photo-cropping (and some don't offer that) once you've uploaded them into the book-production software. For instance, you must remove red-eye before you transfer the picture to the site.

 

There are significant differences among the photo-sharing sites. Some will delete your pictures if you don't order any prints for a year, and recently Kodak was of damaging photos by compressing them in order to save space on the company's servers (the company denies the allegations). To be clear, I focused only on photo books; I did not evaluate the sites' photo-sharing competence or capabilities.

 

From worst to best:

 

Click the image to open in full size.Wal-Mart

Total price paid: $35.14

This book has the worst of Wal-Mart—poor quality, tepid service—without the low prices. First, the software isn't Mac-compatible, and on a Windows-based PC, the book-production program was difficult to manage. After I finished the album and placed it in the online shopping cart, for instance, I couldn't go back and edit it. I had to start again from scratch. And after I finished, Wal-Mart took nearly two weeks to ship the book; they promised five to six days. Worst of all? The glossy silver cover looks like a reprint of a 1987 high-school yearbook, and inside, some of the pictures have a dark, reddish tint. Spend your $35 elsewhere.

 

Print quality: 6

Cover quality: 2

Ease of use: 5

Service: 4

Total: 17 (out of 40 possible)

 

Click the image to open in full size.SnapfishTotal price paid: $28.01

I know I'm biased, but my daughter is painfully cute. She has dark hair, a nubbin nose, and eyes so blue that you want to dive right in. Then why does she look like Winston Churchill in this album? Because the images are so drained and fuzzy that they make the Zapruder film look good. Look at this photo and note the blurry Snapfish picture on the left compared to the Kodak photo on the right. The photo glued onto the linen cover also gives the book a slapdash appearance. And finally, the site isn't Mac-compatible. There is some good news: Snapfish is one of the few services that allow you to return your personalized album at any time.

 

Print quality: 4

Cover quality: 4

Ease of use: 6

Service: 7

Total: 21

 

Click the image to open in full size.Sony ImageStationTotal price paid: $39.11

Like many photo-sharing sites, Sony ImageStation has a policy that pictures "may not include nudity." I don't know about you, but I can't imagine a baby album without a little skin. How could I not include a picture of her tortured, screaming face as she took her first bath? Or skip a shot of her melonlike keister? To be sure, there isn't much of a Big Brother: I uploaded all the pictures of my daughter in her birthday suit and haven't heard any complaints

 

What someone should complain about, however, is Sony's production software, which allows you to place your photos anywhere on the book's page. Like attempting dinner out with a newborn, or changing a diaper in the dark, this seems like a good idea, but it's not. If you move a picture once, it's nearly impossible to center it again. Suddenly, the page looks like an 8-year-old slapped on the photos with Elmer's Glue.

 

Print quality: 7

Cover quality: 6

Ease of use: 4

Service: 5

Total: 22

 

Click the image to open in full size.Kodak EasyShareTotal price paid: $30.77

This is the vanilla of the bunch. Worth your money but a little bland. While the book is easy to create—uploading photos was a cinch—the production software offers only seven layout options. (Kodak says they're rolling out more options soon.) The site also requires that each photo have a caption. That seemed fun in theory, but how many times can you write "What a cute baby!"? The cover was also of good quality—the elegant piece of translucent vellum covering the lead picture is a nice touch. In short, if you have little time and don't want to make a lot of choices, this might be best for you. Otherwise, keep looking.

 

On a related note, you can buy a lot more than an album on most photo-sharing sites, and Kodak offers one of the most impressive arrays of products. While I didn't test any of these items, Kodak will festoon everything from beer mugs to playing cards with the picture of your choice. Yes, playing cards. Can you imagine playing a game of Texas Hold 'Em with my baby's butt on the back? I'm a proud papa, but spare me.

 

Print quality: 7

Cover quality: 7

Ease of use: 5

Service: 6

Total: 25

 

Click the image to open in full size.PhotoworksTotal price paid: $30.95 (price includes a special $5.99 discount)

Compiling this album requires an inner Martha Stewart. You need to make dozens of design decisions (should the cover be "amore red" or "coastal blue"?) and have the patience of a breast-feeding mother (the software is bearishly slow). But for the most part, the site rewards your effort. Made from high-quality linen, the book looks Audrey Hepburn-elegant. Indeed, if I was judging the books solely by their covers, this would take the gold.

 

The quality of the pictures is also impressive. While the photos are a touch grainier than Kodak's or Shutterfly's, they're vivid and clean. Best of all, however, are the layout options. The site allows you to make a double-page spread of full-page, borderless picturesas well as collages of 12 snapshots. In fact, my wife thought the album looked so good that it could be published as a children's book. Move over, Maurice Sendak, and give these parents some space on the bookshelf. This site almost took first-place. But because it required a weekend's worth of work, I preferred another site that offered a better overall experience.

 

Print quality: 6

Cover quality: 8

Ease of use: 5

Service: 7

Total: 26

 

 

Click the image to open in full size.ShutterflyTotal price: $39.98

The photos in this book are almost National Geographic quality: bright, clear, and crisp. The book-production software was also easy to use and had lots of options, from photo collages to . My only gripe is the cover—the white leather looks straight out of Carmela Soprano's closet. Still, as a package, Shutterfly is my choice: It produced a book I'll proudly give my daughter when she's all grown up.

 

Print quality: 8

Cover quality: 5

Ease of use: 7

Service: 8

Total: 27

 

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this article is interesting and says to go shutterfly or sharedink...also, shows the book sharedink uses and the binding quality (one of the complaints about my publisher)

or

Everything You Wanted To Know About Custom Photo Books But Were Afraid To Ask Copyright Mark Hobson. All rights reserved.

 

In You Say You Want A Revolution, or, Indigo, Thy Name Is Vanity, I piqued the interest of many on NPN about the brave new world of custom photo books - genuine hard bound, press-printed, “coffee table” books that photographers of all stripes can create with relative ease and at modest expense. I also named names - SharedInk.com and Shutterfly.com as the No.1 and No.2 online custom photo book printers. The ranking - based on quality (printing and materials) and customer support - was determined from my experience with both sourcesClick the image to open in full size.

Hobson produced the NPN Primer book using SharedInk.com. It features the photography of NPN members Eric Fredine, Mitchell Thomas, Ronnie Gaubert, Maureen Pulignano, Michael Gordon, Jim White, Jim Zipp and Mark Hobson.

 

Since the article appeared, two things have happened. The article triggered a rather constant trickle of emails from NPNers with questions about various aspects of photo book design, layout, technical issues, etc. And, as you may have noticed on the front page of NPN, SharedInk.com has signed on as a site sponsor.

 

Put those two happenings together and what do you get? Well, in a nut shell, you get Me, and a 3-part series of articles about custom photo books - the whys, the hows, together with various other rumination and tidbits that you didn’t know you couldn’t live without. Sooo...on with the show.

 

First, let’s deal with the easy part - why create a custom photo book? There are probably as many answers to this question as there are photographers, but let’s touch on just a few that are most likely common to most.

 

>Who amongst us doesn’t want to see their photography in print? - a distinctly different experience from seeing prints of your photographs.

  • Who amongst us doesn’t want to share their photography with others? Carrying a portfolio of expensive, fragile original prints around is a risky and bulky business.

     

    then, it’s settled - for one reason or another (unless you raised your hand for all of the above), creating a book of your very own photographs sounds like a good idea. For many, I guess the real question is not why, but how? Designing and laying out a book can seem, to the uninitiated, to be a very daunting task. For that matter, designing and laying out a book is a daunting and intimidating task and very few know this better than those who have been initiated.

     

    However, in the present online digital world of custom photo book printing the task has been made considerably easier than it was in the analog past. In the case of SharedInk.com, total page creation (design, layout, photo prep, typography) can be done entirely at home, on your computer, using software (Photoshop) that you already own and are familiar with. Upload the completed files and place them in your book in page order. With Shutterfly.com (and most other online sources), you prep your photographs at home with Photoshop, and, after uploading hi-res jpegs, place them in your choice of page layouts (in the next article in this series, we’ll cover some basic and advanced page layout ideas, the type tool in Photoshop, adding text and captions - most of the “mechanics” you’ll need to know to put a book together).

     

    There is much to be considered once the decision to create a book has been made, first and foremost amongst them - what purpose will the book serve? Will it be for pure entertainment (eye candy)? Will it be to inform or educate about a specific topic? Will it be limited to a certain place? Time of day? Technique (panoramic, wide angle, telephoto, B&W)? This first decision is key to success - so many other considerations will hinge on or flow from this decision. Most obviously, your choice of photographs to be included depends on this decision. At this stage it’s also helpful to create a working title for the book - this will help define the project and keep you on track.

     

    When it comes to choosing photographs, my suggestion is to keep it personal. Forget polling and trolling for the opinion of others. This is your book and it should, popular or not, reflect your vision, your intent, your message. The only exception to this suggestion is if the book is purely a marketing endeavor. If it is, remember the adage that “...no one ever went broke under-estimating the taste of the American public.” So, in this case, go ahead and pander - it will most likely help the bottom line quite measurably.

     

    (Quick aside - who amongst us who has mass-market publishing aspirations can think of a better item than a custom photo book as part of a presentation to a publisher to demonstrate what your photographs look like in book form

     

    Deciding which photographs to use also begs the question of how many to use - a practice commonly called editing, although some refer to it as agonizing. SharedInk.com and Shutterfly (and virtually all other online sources) have a “base” book that has 20 pages - 10 sheets x 2 sides - and my advise for your first few book projects (once you get started, you’ll definitely be doing more than one) is to limit yourself to that number of pages. Even though you can place more than one photograph on a page, as is wise in most new ventures, you really should keep it simple

     

    As mentioned, photograph selection depends on intent and purpose. If you plan to tell a story, choose photos that flow logically from a start to a finish. If the book is a simple collection of pretty photographs there is no real right or wrong to guide your selection, just pick your best photos and use a simple repetitive page layout to create a sense of continuity.

     

    My favorite books are “theme” books, books with photographs that work together without calling undo attention to themselves individually, but conspire to create a powerful impression about a single subject when viewed together as a body of work. Walker Evans’ photographs in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men is a stunning example of a theme type collection of photographs.

     

    Which brings me to another point - if I (or anyone) wrote 100 how-to articles about creating custom photo books, I doubt if I could really teach that certain something that goes into creating a book with real impact. Not the impact that comes from formulaic design flash-n-dash (eye candy), but impact that stirs the mind, the soul, and the eye. In a good book, like in a good photograph, Content is King. When good Form (good design/layout/printing) in a book compliments good Content, the result is impact of the highest order

     

    When considering your own book, one of the best how-to resources that you can draw upon is a local library or bookstore with an expansive photography section. In other words, look at photo books, as many as possible. Soak up their impact and figure out for yourself what works for you. Some books that combine outstanding Form and Content to look for

     

    But we digress. Once you have at least a basic selection of photographs, you need to take the time to familiarize yourself with online custom photo book sources. There are many and a simple Google will find them for you. As mentioned in the earlier article, not all sources MAC compatible, but my recommendations, SharedInk.com and Shutterfly, are. Visit each site, poke around and kick the tires.

     

    Keeping it simple is about the only option that you have with Shutterfly.com. Unlike SharedInk.com where each page is a totally blank, potentially full-bleed (printing right out to edges of the page) slate with your imagination (and skill) as the only limit on page layout, Shutterfly.com offers a selection of page layouts to which you must conform. You can “fool” the page layout system to certain degree (more on this in the installment), but there is no full-bleed capability. Type placement and options are severely limited.

     

    That said, and with my apologies to SharedInk.com, I would nevertheless recommend Shutterfly as the place to start precisely because there are so few options. That and because of the fact that Shutterfly wins the low-cost comparison hands down (a 20pg 5.5x7.5 soft cover book costs $12.95), which allows you to get your feet wet in this book business without breaking the bank. In addition to Shutterfly’s already lower prices, it should be noted that I have yet to pay full retail for a Shutterfly book - I signed up for “alerts” and rarely a week goes by without a special discount on their products, books included. My book workflow almost always includes a Shutterfly book as a first “proof”. I use it to get a feel for my design/layout and photograph selection.

     

    I reserve SharedInk.com as the source for my “finished” books. They are the hands down “top-shelf” of custom photo books - and for the Doubting-Thomas skeptics in the crowd, I arrived at this conclusion after anonymously testing many sources long before they were a site sponsor. Their cost for a basic 20pg hardbound 9x11.75 book is $39.95 (and to my knowledge, never discounted except for larger quantities). You definitely get what you pay for - superb color accuracy/reproduction, very high quality paper choices, truly excellent binding and binding materials, and, as mentioned, full-bleed printing. SharedInk.com alone also offers what amounts to a single page press proof which you can use to check color/contrast and paper quality before you commit to printing your book. There is also a very informative and helpful user forum on their site for asking technical questions and sharing book ideas.

     

    So, let’s review. If you’re considering creating a custom photo book (and who amongst us isn’t?), the first (and most difficult) steps are;

     

    Comments on NPN creative photography articles? Send them to the editor.

     

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    i think i am gonna do sharedink.com...it is a little more work...i will have to set up the page but i kinda wanted to do that anyways...they have templates but just not how i like them to look.

     

    i saw some mpublisher books online and they looked kinda cheap...like the glue was coming off the top and it opened funny...also, mypublisher has gotten slammed in the reviews...google mypublisher reviews and you will see...

     

    one thing about sharedink that i was really impressed with was i ran out of storage and had some issues uploading all my huge pics (5-6MB each) and the president of the company saw that i had an issue and emailed me direcly helping me...that is what i call customer service.

     

    i think if you want to do something a little less in quality but still good, shutterfly has also gotten good reviews but you can only load 250 pics per book...

     

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    So I made a book in iPhoto, uploaded it to MyPublisher, and ordered it for 50% off (woo hoo!) and it just came today (only a 2-day turnaround - impressive!).

     

    My initial thoughts:

     

    Perhaps I had really high expectations, but I think the book is good, but not great. I don't think it will be my ultimate wedding album. But it will be great to have around to show people.

     

    Being able to do all the work in iPhoto was the best part. I don't know what the MyPublisher bookmaker software is like though (I don't have a PC).

     

    The parts I don't love:

     

    The photos are a tad darker than they appear on the screen. If I order more, I will lighten in photoshop first.

     

    The pics near the binding get cut off by the binding a little. Don't put anything really important right in the crease.

     

    The paper is a little thinner than ideal, at least for a fabulous album.

     

    The size overall just seems a little small to me. I think I want something bigger than 8.5x11. (You can do bigger with regular MyPublisher, but not with iPhoto/MyPublisher, unfortunately.)

     

    I'll take some photos of the book when I get home to try to show you all some of these things.

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    hi janet,

     

    i'd love to see photos...the quality really fluctuates with each photobook. i had read some not great reviews on mypublisher (i actually had the software downloaded and my book halway done but scrapped it).

     

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by JANET1111 View Post
    So I made a book in iPhoto, uploaded it to MyPublisher, and ordered it for 50% off (woo hoo!) and it just came today (only a 2-day turnaround - impressive!).

     

    My initial thoughts:

     

    Perhaps I had really high expectations, but I think the book is good, but not great. I don't think it will be my ultimate wedding album. But it will be great to have around to show people.

     

    Being able to do all the work in iPhoto was the best part. I don't know what the MyPublisher bookmaker software is like though (I don't have a PC).

     

    The parts I don't love:

     

    The photos are a tad darker than they appear on the screen. If I order more, I will lighten in photoshop first.

     

    The pics near the binding get cut off by the binding a little. Don't put anything really important right in the crease.

     

    The paper is a little thinner than ideal, at least for a fabulous album.

     

    The size overall just seems a little small to me. I think I want something bigger than 8.5x11. (You can do bigger with regular MyPublisher, but not with iPhoto/MyPublisher, unfortunately.)

     

    I'll take some photos of the book when I get home to try to show you all some of these things.

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