General discussion

Photo Books

I thought a good topic of discussion would be photo books. I searched forums and did not find anything. Maybe I missed it. I have been trying to do a good photo book. I have used Sony Imagestation. Then Ofoto became Kodak Photo Gallery and they offer the same services. Walgreens will also allow me to upload digital photos and have a nice hard bound book made for about $20 for 20 pages which is less then the two I have mentioned previously. Wal Mart Offers this service also now. Wal Mart has the best price however once I spend time uploading my photos they only allow me to keep my photos there for 60 days or spend .74 for every 10 meg of storage space that I might for one year. I guess that is not so bad but after uploading my photos I could not get the book designing part of it to work this time. It must be having trouble accessing the pictures that I have already uploaded.

Since I have long been a PC person I wonder if I will have to concede that mac does this task better? iphoto looks pretty interesting. So there are plenty of ways to get this job done but they all seem to have some hang ups and pretty big ones at that. Imagestation is very slow on the design end and costly. None of them provide me with software that I can use locally to design the book and then upload it once I am all done. That seems like it would be the best method. Even with broadband, editing online is just too cumbersome. Walgreens seeems to make an attempt at providing 'designers' with local design tools (software that runs only on my computer and I can use with out being logged in to Walgreens). You can do some fancy things with your pictures such as adding captions and graphics and all of that. This is only for pictures however. It is not for the actual design of a book should you decide to do that. And although the local stand alone software for Walgreens is nice it is really just a teaser program written with macromedia that tries to get you to buy the more extensive $40 package. If anyone else has any experience with doing this (pro or con) I would be interested in hearing your expreriences with it.

At up to 40 bucks per pop for 20 page books and with Wal Mart, Walgreens, Imagestation, Kodak Photo Gallery, iphoto and many others competing for businees. It would seem that these companies would want to make the process of designing these things a little easier to deal with.

Discussion is locked

Reply to: Photo Books
PLEASE NOTE: Do not post advertisements, offensive materials, profanity, or personal attacks. Please remember to be considerate of other members. If you are new to the CNET Forums, please read our CNET Forums FAQ. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Reporting: Photo Books
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.
- Collapse -
Photo Books

Over the past months I've self published several photo books using The latest was about 20 pages with captions and a die cut cover cost less than $15.00 (softcover) They also offer hard cover books and their turnaround time is phenomenal.

- Collapse -
Seems to be a consensus

I looked around and have seen many other complimentary statements about They also have exactly what I was looking for which is software that allows me to design my book on my own computer and then upload it when I am finished. Thanks.

- Collapse -
I think the jury is still out

Yeah, MyPublisher has good value compared to some of the others. There is still a learning process. Their help index is just a table of contents, which annoys me. If you make it through this, the reward is an attractive book.

Caution: MyPublisher has a problem in its handling of typeface. Typography problems are supposed to be highlighted in red, to catch your attention before you order the book. However, one problem in my book was not caught, and my album printed with a typo. I had pasted in an em dash (a standard punctuation mark in professional publishing) using the Microsoft Character Map. It looked fine when I ordered the book, but in the final printed book it had changed to a question mark. And it was in the title! MyPublisher promises to give me a credit for the entire order, within three weeks. And they say that they are working on fixing "this glitch" (try BUG). But my gift to a relative is already blemished.

My biggest beef with these album services is not so much in the design phase, it is more in the production phase, i.e., the final printing and binding that happens in an obscure location by people who may be inexperienced at publishing. ImageStation, Snapfish, and now MyPublisher have all messed up at least one of my albums at this stage.

- Collapse -
Photo Books (continued)

Eureka, I finally found a discussion of this topic. Online photo book services are in a grey area between products and services, and online reviews are hard to find. One exception would be the many (currently 192) reviews of Snapfish on But where is a comprehensive comparison of the various services? Mossberg (Wall Street Journal) wrote a quick review mentioning just a few (three, I think) such services and just glossing over the high points.

I am currently a member at ImageStation, Snapfish, and Kodak Gallery. I plan to also join MyPublisher and Shutterfly. I just want to compare these services for my own benefit. I have placed 12 orders at ImageStation, one at Snapfish, and am working on my first photo book at Kodak.

To avoid writing an extremely lengthy post, I will simply invite anyone wanting to compare notes on this topic to e-mail me, To summarize my experiences so far, ImageStation's service is easier to use and more user-friendly than those of Snapfish and Kodak. However, one trait that all these services seem to have in common is that their business model is for an internet site that makes money automatically with minimal customer interaction. If you have a problem, you are in for a difficult time getting their attention. To ImageStation's credit, they do provide an online chat service. But if you have a problem with an order, they ''escalate'' your problem to their ''Exception Handling Team'' which is supposed to contact you within 48 hours, but don't bet on it. My last order from ImageStation arrived with the title page missing, and it has been over 48 hours since I reported the problem, and I have not heard from them. Another time, I asked Snapfish customer support how can I save a project, and...silence.

In the ten (out of twelve) cases where ImageStation has produced a defect-free book, the product has been impressive and one that I am proud to present to someone as a gift. If only one of these services can really get their act together, I think they will get an amazing amount of business.

Uploading photos and doing the work of creating a photo book is much more tedious than one might think at the outset -- Especially in my case, where I create photo albums about family ancestors, and there are lots of group photos where I would like to include a large caption identifying everyone in the photo.

How can one compare all the photo album services thoroughly, from registering to holding a new book in your hand, without slogging through all the work and paying the money time and time again?

Maybe this forum, right here, can be the place for compiling a detailed comparison.

- Collapse -
Photo Books

Exactly what I am looking for. Also, I am looking for the best digital scrapbooking software and how to get it in print.

- Collapse -
Photobook Publisher Recommendation

I read your post about photo books. I created a web site which compares the different publishers because I too couldn't find any great information. The web site is, hope it helps.

I have created several photo books and love them! They are quick, easy, and affordable. The books I've made look beautiful.

- Collapse -
Photo Books Software

I am looking for software that enables me to build and print my own photo book (album) and include captions and discriptive text to the page of photos. My game plan is to digitalize my slides and photos and along with my digital pictures build a series of photo albums that I can print and view with out using my computer or a web site. The software I have looked at sofar seems to confine the page layout to a grid of pictures with limited ability to add text. I would like to arrange photos in something other than a set grid. Should I be looking at Desktop Publishing software or scrapbook software. I use Windows XP for my operating system. Any suggestions or ideas would be appreciated. I may also want to put some albums on a web site.

- Collapse -
Need more info on what you want

Allow me to summarize your points, and please forgive me if I misinterpret, I'm just trying to understand what you want.

- You want to digitize your photos and slides. (YES, good idea!)
- You want to be able to print and view without a computer.
- You want complete freedom in layout of pictures and captions. (YES, this is what I want too!)

Your first two goals seem to be somewhat in conflict. How can you print and view a library of digital files without a computer? Are you considering some sort of specialized hardware such as an electronic book? Is there a new technology that I have missed? I don't deny that it might be possible some day.

Judging from your first sentence, the end product that you want is a hardcopy album. If so, keep in mind that just printing your pictures to hardcopy does not give you an album. What about the cover? What about the binding? This is the core of what the online services try to do for you -- transform a stack of paper into a bound album. Unfortunately, with the possible exception of Kodak, they are newbies to the publishing business and tend to make mistakes in producing the final product. (And Kodak, which did produce a very nice album for me, was EXPENSIVE.)

You might consider looking for a professional bookbinder. Bookbinding as a home industry seems to be dying out, but there are still a few good ones out there. There are also some companies that do it, but they seldom do only one copy at a time, and they are VERY expensive. If you do try a professional bookbinder, test him/her first with a sample project that you can afford to kiss goodbye if he/she messes it up. I have an excellent bookbinder in Durham, North Carolina, who charges me around $40 per book.

For the freedom of layout, as you suspect you are probably looking for some good desktop publishing software. But forget about doing it with no computer.

- Collapse -
Sorry for the confusion

And thanks for your response. My intent (hope) is to produce the album with my computer, however, I didn't want to have to pull-up the album on my computer every time I wanted to view the photo album. (Which seem to be what several software programs offer). Your correct, I want a hard copy album, but I want the freedom to choose my own layout or at least avoid having all the photos lined up in a grid. Binding them in a hardcover book is something I might deal with latter. Have you had any experience with a Desktop Publishing program that doesn't cost an arm and a leg. I am thinking of something in the $100-$150 range. I have not been satisfied with $30 software products, but don't feel justified in spending $300 for a product that I want use for other functions. Also, I came across a product on the internet by Epson called Story Teller-Photo Book. Do you know anything about it?

- Collapse -
Good question, I don't know the answer

No, I do not have experience with reasonably priced desktop publishing software, unless you count Microsoft Word. But Word is grid-like, which you don't want. Although it gives some freedom of placement, it takes a lot of juggling and arranging to get everything approximately where you want it, and fine-tuning of placement is a nightmare.

I have been using Adobe FrameMaker, which is high-priced, and I'm not sure it's still available.

A quick check of product reviews at brought me to Art Explosion Publisher Pro, which is a little below your price range. They advertise "complete control over placement of text and graphics". Maybe this is the answer. The customer reviewers like it very much.

Reviews of Story Teller Photo Book Creator indicate that it may be too restrictive for you. For example, you are limited to 20 pages maximum, and you can only print on one side of the page. I wasn't able to learn anything about page composition.

So, about all I can do is suggest that you look at online software reviews, such as at,, or here at A good search phrase would be "desktop publishing".

Sorry I can't help you more. As I understand your goal, it is very reasonable -- to get away from prearranged templates. Isn't there some mid-priced desktop publishing software that gives complete freedom, and ease of use, for laying out photos and captions for a photo album? Does anybody out there know?

- Collapse -
Re: Sorry for the confusion
- Collapse -

LindaBee, the link looks good. Should help a lot here. Nice work.


- Collapse -

Please do not list your email address ever on any CNET forums, you can set this up using your CNET profile. Pretty easy to use.
That way someone can email you and spammers cannot.
Go to your profile. Edit it and follow the window. If you want someone to email you back just enter your email address when responding to them.
Better safe than sorry.
I found your post concerning scrapbooks interesting. As well as other posters. Nice info.
Personally, I go over to Wal-mart and purchase a nice photo album.
Slide the photos in. Inexpensive.
No typos. God, do I hate typos!!! :

- Collapse -
Would scrapbooking software be the way to go?

I'm looking for a program that would enable me to add captions to my digital photos and allow me to create my own CD or load them to a folder on my PC, or send via internet to my family and friends (with captions intact). Any such animal?
Thanks! Yankee Gurl

- Collapse -

I just rely on Quark and lay in the caption to each page and photo.
Bob Proffit may know of one for you acquire.
You can also do this in Adobe Photoshop with a new layer to set a photo caption. Do not flatten the image and you could go back later and change the caption or delete the caption entirely. That would keep your image intact. Set the copy as positive or as a reverse caption.


- Collapse -
photo books

You might want to check out this site: It's an article where the author tried out 6 photo book publishing services online. (walmart, snapfish, shutterfly, photoworks, etc.) The best was shutterly in terms of print quality.

Has anyone tried ordering in How's the print quality?

- Collapse -
Good article

Nice link to a good article. More information like this needs to be published, even if informally, because it is so hard to tell what you're getting into at a publishing site until you've invested lots of time and possibly money.

I agree with the article's highest ranking of Shutterfly. So far I have tried Imagestation, Kodak, Snapfish, and Shutterfly, and Shutterfly has been the best value. They have upgraded their cropping software to be more user friendly, and they recently offer some new formats -- calendars and three new sizes of photo books, including a 4x4 mini-album. On the downside, their 4x6 format seems to have been dropped.

The trickiest thing about judging a photo book service is that it involves PUBLISHING, i.e., HUMAN BEINGS have to take your pictures and bind them into a book, and these services seem to hire people with little PUBLISHING experience. So, eventually, they are likely to make a really dumb mistake like leaving off the title page or sizing all the photos too small or jamming two books into one binding -- all these things have happened to me. And it's fine if they offer replacements or refunds, but if you were timing a gift for someone's birthday or for a holiday, the gift is ruined. And never have a gift sent directly from the service to the gift recipient. ALWAYS HAVE THE GIFT SENT DIRECTLY TO YOU SO YOU CAN SEE IF THEY MADE ONE OF THEIR DUMB MISTAKES BEFORE YOU SENT IT ON TO YOUR FRIEND OR RELATIVE.

And to continue my rant about dumb mistakes, it doesn't hit you until you have been through the entire process from start until the bitter end when you receive the messed up book.

So back to my original point, it is important to have information in advance. We need a place to compile collective experiences with these services. These experiences should include not only how nice the user interface was and how nice the printed photos looked, but whether the customer received EXACTLY what was ordered. I can envision a large matrix being built and maintained somewhere. (But I confess that I don't know how to do it.)

I'll close this message by noting something that I really like about Shutterfly: Under Help, they list their Executive Team. On other sites I've tried, the executives seem to be hiding from the customer. Presumably, if Shutterfly messes up one of your books and Customer Service gives you the runaround, you could send a letter to the executive in charge of customer relations at their mailing address (available in the "Career Opportunities" link).

- Collapse -
software solution

hi- any ideas. i want a programme that will allow me to arrange photos into 1 photo i.e on a photobook you can arrange 1, 2, 3 4 photos etc on to one page. i want to be able to do that and save as an individual photo and then get it printed. so in essence if this makes sense create similar pages to a photobook but allowing me to save as a jpeg and get printed through any of the online printers

- Collapse -
Would scrapbooking software be the way to go?

You might try creating a document in MS Word and printing it as a PDF file. That will allow you to customize as you see fit and print in a format that is stable and portable.


- Collapse -
Email address

Thanks for the reply, and your point about email addresses is generally well taken, but I merely posted my spam email address. It is the address that I use when I anticipate possible spam.

I have had no problem as a result of that posting, and curiously, only one direct reply.

- Collapse -
Need a publisher, not software

I was wondering if anyone knew of an online company that will publish Photo Books and allow you to use your OWN software to create the layout.

Basically, I need the publisher to give specific dimensions for the page layouts and cover layout.

I have Adobe CS3 with InDesign so I would really only need the publisher.

Anyone have any recommendations?


- Collapse -
Publishing Software

Well, just stumbled on to this and am happy to find it.

It has been quite sometime since the last post, but I would like to add my thoughts about MyPublisher.

I have tried for several months to succesffully use this software after it being recommend by a pro who was making $6 or so books and selling them for several dollar more. It was so effective and so classy I wanted to duplicate the action.

Well, I have had trouble. My concerns are with support after the front cover windows do not align properly. This is nothing more than a mask and we all know how photographers feel about the power of positive, proper, masking.

Finally, the "talk" now is about another software and I cannot find it. It has one short name and I went totally blank after losing the note with the name on it.

Oh well, need help... any current toughts here?

- Collapse -
My comments on what I have researched about this so far.


Glad to find this thread too.

I have been researching extensively on this and here is my problem.

I want to create a book that includes as much or more text as pics. I have been keeping a journal for my 13 year old daughter, (like letters from mom to her, at different ages and stages) and I want to turn it into a book.

All the software I have looked at so far as been very limited in amount of text you can use in there sections.

I am considering getting my own binder system, but wonder which software is best for putting together pages. I have some, from the past that I loved, which worked well in Windows 95 and 98 but don't seem to mix well with XP. I am considering Ulead's Scrapbook 2, which I have the disk for but can't reload because I lost the passcode, and they offer no support for replacing this at there site.

I am considering PhotoShop Elements. Anyhow, I am putting together a complete ebook on this subject, and may create a membership site for discussion and advice on this, while I go through the whole process.

Kindest regards,

- Collapse -
My Photo Book Recommendations

I too have had a problem finding decent information on photo books, so I have experimented by making books from several publishers. My friends encouraged me to put up a web site, so I did, its where I have posted what I have learned thus far and which photo book publishers I recommend.

Let me know what you think about the information that I am providing. I love photo books, they are easy, fun, and they turn out beautiful. I love all the books that I have made and have given them out as gifts too.

- Collapse -
Great service that designs photo albums for you

I came across a company called "ever after" ( that does all the design work for you, and makes great looking photo albums. You can either submit the photos and text online thru their website, or send the files to them on a CD-ROM.

Since it seems like you have a lot of text, you could probably ask them if you could submit it in an e-mail or word document or something, and they can place it into your book?

They do hard cover books, so there would be no need for you to buy your own binder system. Maybe you could even consider scanning a few of your handwritten pages and have it included here and there?

- Collapse -

I have found a great company that prints their books in Switzerland. They're website is

Quite a simple process where you upload your own photos and design your own photo book.

Very nice idea. I have done 3 books so far.

- Collapse -
Printing Hardcover Photo Book with UBuildABook

I have had great results with book quality by printing two of my hard cover photo books with . One of my books was a family history/genealogy book and the other was an art portfolio book.

They allowed me to design my own hard cover and print directly on the front and back cover and put my book title on the spine. Their standard paper was an 80# glossy photo paper. They also had an option for cheaper paper or premium paper (100# glossy).

However, they only print the book and do not provide any layout/template software. I used Photoshop Elements (free 30-day trial available on Adobe website) which offered many different layout templates. It seems to be a "dummied down" version of Photoshop for novices not inclined to spend the money or take the time nor have the need for the full Photoshop. I eventually ended up buying the software for $79 since I liked it so much. Elements gave me the capability to save my book in PDF format, which allowed me to have many more options to get my books printed without being tied to the templates of the book printer and having to learn a new format each time.

Since UBuildABook doesn't have their own software, it seemed that their setup cost was included in the price of the first book which made it expensive to order only one book, but the cost for more copies of the book was very low compared with others ... and their customer service was great.

- Collapse -
Photo Books and Software

To design pages yourself, I highly recommend Adobe Photoshop Elements. It's reasonably priced, you can try it for free for 30 days. The consumer scrapbooking programs out there have issues when saving files to for printing.

I make photo books and unlike the large companies mentioned here, I focus on customer service and customization. All books are custom made to order, my prints are superior and my books are professionally bound by a bindery that has been around since 1923. If you are frustrated by the quality of other books, please take a look at mine,

- Collapse -
Printing a photobook from PSE8 from different printers.

Hey, you mentioned that you recommended using adobe photoshop elements 8 to create your photobooks; I am making my first photo book and have created it in photoshop elements 8 ( not the shutterfly program however, just the custom printer setting) in hopes I might print it with a more economical company such as
First, what printer do you use/recommend, and secondly, if you use a different printer, do you know how to change the settings in adobe to make sure the pages meet the printers specifications?
Thanks for your time, any advice on the subject would be helpful.

- Collapse -
photo shop elements

I am in the process of building my first photo book. I am using adobe photoshop elements. There is a tab to create a photo book and am able to do so. I then click and send it directly to kodak. Did anyone try this yet and receive the finished product?

CNET Forums

Forum Info