The Best and Worst Photo Books

I’ve made a lot of photo books over the years! I love the stories they can tell but mostly I love having photos printed to look at as opposed to hidden in the depths of my computer and phone. I make photo books annually to capture our best memories from the year and I’ll make them for epic trips and special occasions too.

So now that I am a self-proclaimed photo book expert, here are my reviews on the best photo books and some of the worst too…

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ZNO

ZNO is a US-based company that I discovered a few years ago.  You can order directly from your phone or use a computer.   Based on their website, it seems they are looking to service professional photographers.

Prices:  Prices start at $40 CAD for a 6×6 book x 24 pages with a paper cover plus $7.50 CAD shipping worldwide. They always have deals so watch for them.

Products: Everything from books to note cards to calendars

Ease of Use: This one is so easy to use!  I have made two little black books with ZNO, and the template only always for one photo per page, so as long you can figure out how to select 24 photos from your album either on your phone or your computer you are golden!

Quality: Top-notch quality, while I am pretty sure this one can withstand my kids, I just love it so much that I keep it out of their reach and they can only look at with an adult (until they are older).

Pros: Quality, flat rate shipping, good enough for the pros, frequent deals.

Cons: Little black book only allows for 24 photos, so pending your needs it might be enough, a little bit pricey, longer lead time, it took about 3 weeks from order to get the book. 

Verdict: If you can afford, get it!

Zno photobooks

Photobook Canada

I used Photobook Canada to make my son’s 1st year photo book so I wanted a larger book with room for lots of photos.  Photobook Canada always has deals on Groupon which made me weary to be honest, but I thought it was time to give them a try!

Prices: Mini photo books start at $4.99 plus shipping, a 6×6 book with a hardcover is approximately $25 plus shipping. Shipping free with you spend over $75 otherwise shipping starts at $5 and increases based on the size of your item and whether you need express shipping.

Products: Photo books, gifts, stickers – everything under the sun!

Ease of Use:  Easy to use, lots of different template options and I liked that they had options for two page spread with tons of pictures!

Quality: I chose a lay-flat hardcover book and I was pleasantly surprised by the quality. Each page is made with a thick paper that for the most part has withstood my kids!

Pros: Pricing, there is always an offer available, book quality is good pending the product, shipping, you can pay for express shipping and get a book within 3-5 days.

Cons: Photo quality is good but not at the top of the list, I found it hard to figure out pricing on their website until I actually created a book.

Verdict:  You won’t be disappointed, but if photo quality is your top priority then consider ZNO.

Mixbook

I used Mixbook for my family’s 2018 annual book.  I saw multiple advertisements and finally gave in to trying them out (marketing works)!

Prices:  According to their website, books start as low as $15.99, but I had a hard time finding a book for that price, not sure if it is a bait and switch or their website just isn’t user-friendly.  Still, I made a book with them and leveraged a deal for 40% off.  Like all the other photo book companies, they have deals on all the time, so do not pay full price ever.  Expect to pay $30 for a basic softcover 8×8 book plus shipping which is approximately $12.99 within Canada.

Products: Books, magnets, metal prints, canvas prints, calendars, invitations

Ease of Use:  The bookmaking process was fairly standard, you can upload photos from various sources including your Instagram, Facebook or google photos.

Quality:  I was pretty disappointed with my Mixbook.  The quality of the book was poor and definitely not worth what I paid.  While the paper used feels ok, the quality of the book seam is very flimsy and frankly, I worry about my kids touching it.

Pros: If I had to pick any they have some nice templates and book cover designs but I tend not to use those. They do have a 100% happiness guarantee meaning you can return your book, but I didn’t look into. I’ll report back if I do.

Cons: Book quality is low, pricing is high even with discounts. Website navigation ie hard to find pricing.

Verdict:  Move on, not the book for you, me, anyone! You can get a similar quality book for cheaper with Shutterfly or a better quality book of similar pricing from Photobook Canada.

Mixbook photobooks review

Shutterfly

Shutterfly is probably the most recognisable of all the photo books companies

Prices:  Books can start at $20.00; a 8×8 hardcover book will cost $30.00 plus shipping before any discounts which they have often.  You can also check out the website to get your first book free (just pay for shipping).

Products: Books, cards, magnets, calendars, gifts including jewellery, custom socks and so much more.

Ease of Use: Easy to use and you can upload photos from Google, Instagram, Facebook and other photo-sharing sites.   Lots of templates to choose from.

Quality: I have only ever ordered the basic hardcover books from Shutterfly. The photo quality is ok and the book quality is also just ok – I don’t really expect them to stand up to my kids over time.

Pros:  Gifts with sign up i.e. free prints, and free unlimited photo storage, so many products to choose from.

Cons: Surprisingly they don’t have the 6×6 size for books, higher shipping costs than some other shops.  Quality is okay, but not amazing.

Verdict: Shutterfly is great when you can get your hands on a free book.

Shutterfly photobooks review

Vistaprint

I have used Vistaprint for business cards and other ‘businessy’ things and recently they added photo books.  I took advantage of a 60% off boxing day deal and made my daughter’s 1st-year book.  I was looking for a large book that would fit lots of photos which they had.

Prices: Smaller (5.5 x 5.5cm) books start at $13.99 plus shipping. 

Products: They have 7 different sizes for photo books with 2 different types of covers.

Ease of Use: Since Vistaprint is new to the photobook space, their books are very basic, no fancy designs, and not that many templates to choose from.  I had to create some of my own page layouts to get exactly what I wanted, but if simple layouts are what you want then it works.

Quality: The quality surpassed my expectations! It feels like a pretty sturdy book and the photo quality wasn’t too bad either!

Pros: Frequent deals, good book and photo quality.

Cons: Very basic designs and templates, limited book sizes

Verdict: My Vistaprint photo book surprisingly surpassed my expectations, so definitely one to consider for budget quality.

Visitaprint photobook review

Black’s Photography

I made this one over 10 years ago after a trip to Asia with my mom, but it has stood the test of time!

Prices: A 20 page 6×6 square book with a softcover starts at 12.95 plus shipping (but I couldn’t find the shipping costs on their website). They have a mini-book starting at $2.99 which could be a cute gift! Watch for deals as they also have deals most book companies.

Products: Photo books, prints, magnets, metal prints, canvas prints, photo collages.

Ease of Use: Fairly easy to use.

Quality: I’ve only made the little black book, but after 10 years the quality remains strong! The seam is strong and paper quality is excellent.

Pros: Lots of options for books sizes, well priced for the quality,

Cons: Basic books options ie no fancy templates or covers, just simple plan colours for the covers.

Verdict: I really like the quality of my little black book from Black’s and for the price, I think you’ll be happy! Watch for deals as they also have deals as most companies do.

black's photography photobooks review

Pikto

For each of my kids in their first year, I made them a family book so they could learn all their extended family members. I tried Pikto for my daughters and made a 6×6 softcover book.

Prices: A 6×6 softcover book with 20 pages starts at 14.95 plus shipping starts at $10. If you are in Toronto, you can pick up your order from their North York office.

Products: Photo books of various sizes, prints, calendars. The most unique product they sell is a photo ledge which very well priced.

Ease of Use: I found their system to be fairly easy to use and they have both easy and advanced book editing options.

Quality: Here is where I am torn, I wanted to like my Pitko book, it is a Canadian company after all, but I wasn’t too impressed with my book quality, it felt a little flimsy and I definitely keep it out of reach from my kids.

Pros: Books sizes, pick up option, local production, photo quality, frequent deals, transparent pricing that is easy to find on their website.

Cons: Book quality a little flimsy, base pricing is higher than the other big companies and shipping is higher.

Verdict: I probably wouldn’t use Pikto softcover books for my kids, but I would consider making a hardcover book if they had an epic deal.

Pikto photobooks review

FINAL VERDICT:

If you can afford it go for ZNO if not then I think Photobook Canada is probably your next best option for quality and price.

So there you have it! Which are the best photo books in your opinion? Any you think I should try? Also, if you like reviews like this, check out our extremely popular review on leggings!

League of Moms / 03/06/2020

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