Best photo book service online 2021

best photo book

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

The title of best photo book service has fast become a competitive prize to win, with plenty of enticing options out there on the market. That’s a good thing for you, of course, as it means they’re naturally getting better, cheaper and easier to use. 

A top quality photo book album makes a poignant present for birthdays, christenings, Mother’s Day, Christmas and beyond. As well as being relatively affordable, photo books show you took the time and thought to create something personal. The gift of happy memories and love – that’s a tough one to top!

Thanks to the superb quality of today’s camera phones, the tendency is to snap with the intention of reviewing later, only to move onto the next thing and never appreciate that moment. Photo books let you distil those memories to cherish as you take the time to physically flip through the book. And many photo book sites now let you upload photos directly from your phone or pull them in from social media services like Facebook.

You can then play around with sizing, position, materials and plenty more with as little or as much effort as you like thanks to plenty of auto creation options out there, too.

From family events and weddings, to holidays and graduations, there’s a photo book for each of them.

Today’s best photo book services

1. Mixbook is our favorite photo book service

Mixbook truly ticks all the best photo book boxes. It’s a dream to use, with loads of customizable options if you want to create something truly special. And the quality you get back is excellent, without having to spend a small fortune.

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2. Artifact Uprising – the choice for luxury

Artifact Uprising may come up a little more expensive than others on this list, but the quality is second to none. It’s a fabulous choice if you’re after an extra special product to keep or give to a loved one, with extra special options like foil-embossed writing and walnut presentation boxes!

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3. Snapfish – friendly service with plenty of discounts

It seems that whenever you go to the Snapfish website, there’s a discount available of some nature. That’s great news, especially considering that it’s also a really slick service with myriad size and design options to let you create your prefect present or memento.

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Best photo book sites in the US in 2021

Photo book from Mixbook

(Image credit: Mixbook)

1. Mixbook

High quality with lots of options while remaining super simple to use


Custom photo books: Yes

Themes: 500

Theme options: Family, Baby, Wedding, Travel, Everyday

Cover options: Soft, glossy, matte, leather

Paper options: Semi-gloss, premium matte

Sizes: Landscape, square, portrait

Reasons to buy

High quality prints Easy to use software Nice options like stickers and materials

Reasons to avoid

A little busy with options

Our favorite of all the many photo book services out there. The key here is that the Mixbook software is easy to use which makes collating your photo book a pleasure rather than a chore. Also, the finish is so excellent that you feel like you’ve created a work of art rather than fuzzy printed images.

Its diverse 500 themes have got you covered no matter what occasion you’re looking for. Whether your theme is romance or seasonal, family or everyday, travel or kids, Mixbook has got you sorted!

Not to mention its high quality prints and wonderful selection of cover and paper options ensure that you get the very best collection of memories. 

The addition of backgrounds makes for a great finish, which you can do in varying materials with stickers and more. And if you want to make it extra personal, Mixbook has a wide range of different stickers and materials to offer – making your photo book a one of a kind.

And while the site has grown in a good way (it’s also brilliant for stuff like cards, calendars and canvas prints), adding more themes and options, this may feel like a bit of a negative as it might seem a little overwhelming for some. There’s certainly a lot to pick from.

Artifact Uprising photo books

(Image credit: Artifact Uprising)

2. Artifact Uprising

Push the boat out for a top quality photo book


Easy to use wizard: Yes

Custom photo books: Yes

Templates: 100

Theme options: Travel, Milestone, Baby, Wedding, Annual, Scrapbook

Cover options: Hardcover, matte cover, leather hardcover, linen hardcover

Binding types: Layflat, hardcover, softcover

Paper options: Layflat, signature layflat, luster, superfine

Sizes: Various

Reasons to buy

Superb quality Truly special finish Easy to get started and complete your product quickly

Reasons to avoid

Priced higher than othersCustomization could be better

If you’re looking for an extra special memento or present and are more concerned about quality than cost, then we’d seriously recommend clicking through to the Artifact Uprising website and taking a look through what it offers. It has some seriously luxurious offerings.

In fact, its site screams out ‘prestige’ from the moment you enter it and it makes no bones about the fact that you’re coming to this service for something beyond the mere ordinary. Take a look at the photo books menu and it puts the ‘Signature Layflat Photo Album’ front and center. Yes, this is no cheap and cheerful product, but it will certainly be a keepsake that you’ll want to look after and cherish for years. You can even add a walnut storage box to your!

That’s not to say that Artifcat Uprising doesn’t have more affordable products, and you’ll discover a litany of templates to get you started – there are excellent options here for weddings, baby pics and other milestone life events.

The online photo book creation tool isn’t necessarily as customizable as some of the competition on this list allows, but it’s no less intuitive and you’ll easily be able to start and complete a photo book in one session.

So while we know that this service won’t be for everybody, it’s an easy choice to put near the top of our best photo book list.

A photo book from Snapfish

3. Snapfish

A super simple to use guided service


Easy to use wizard: Yes

Custom photo books: Yes

Templates: 100

Theme options: Family, Baby, Wedding, Travel, and more

Cover options: Hardcover, matte cover, leather hardcover, linen hardcover

Binding types: Layflat, hardcover, softcover, papercover

Paper options: Layflat, glossy, standard, premium layflat

Sizes: Landscape, square, portrait

Reasons to buy

Generally easy to use Good selection of templates Lots of backgrounds

Reasons to avoid

Print quality could be betterLanding page is quite cluttered

Snapfish not only offers plenty of simple-to-use templates but it actually guides you through the process, too. There are over 120 themes to pick from with a huge selection of backgrounds all of which are easy to pick and pair as the book editor guides you through each stage with drag and drop simplicity. 

The wide range of template and theme options gives the customer plenty of option when creating their photo book. And if you’re looking for an original, custom made photo book than Snapfish’s binding, cover and paper options make it the ideal candidate. Plus it is super easy and fast to use, so if you’re time pressured to put together your photo book – Snapfish could be perfect for you.

Snapfish also offers plenty of size options and book type options so you’ll never have to compromise. 

The only downside we’ve noticed is that the final physical book photo quality could have been better. But there are often deals to be had here that get you a good price for your next photo book.

A photo book from Shutterfly

(Image credit: Shutterfly)

4. Shutterfly

Lots of add-ons to offer plenty of options for the perfect finish


Wizard: Yes

Custom photo books: Yes

Themes: 80

Theme options: Family, Baby, Wedding, Travel, yeabooks and more

Cover options: Soft, glossy, matte, leather, die-cut leather, metallic

Binding options: Deluxe layflat, standard layflat

Sizes: Landscape, square, portrait

Reasons to buy

Wide template selection Plenty of backgrounds Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

Can be uneven photo reproduction

Shutterfly offers another option for those looking to breeze through the software side of work while creating a great physical book. Content is plentiful with lots of backgrounds and theme variations that mean you can personalise your book as you want.

Shutterfly has a wide template selection so no matter what you’re looking for – they’ll have it. Its custom path photo book allows you to customize every aspect of the photo book – from moving and resizing images to text, so you’ll truly have a one of a kind photo book. 

Or, if you just don’t have the time to curate every detail, Shutterfly offers the option for a designer to do this for you. The designer will do all the ground work – making the photo book for you, done in just three business days. Making it extra simple and speedy for you.

Either way, all options come with the possibility of adding up to 1,000 photos and you can have up to 30 images per page.

The odd photo in the print are reported to be less than perfectly even in terms of balance, but quality is still generally high.

A photo book from Picaboo

(Image credit: Picaboo)

5. Picaboo

Fun and creative with great customisation


Easy to use wizard: Yes

Templates: 100

Theme options: Family, Baby, Wedding, Travel, Yearbook and more

Cover options: Story book for kids, classic, seamless lay-flat, madison, flush mount, mini-books

Binding types: Paper, hard, leather, premium lustre, heavyweight glossy, laminated

Paper options: glossy, standard

Sizes: Landscape, square, portrait

Reasons to buy

Fun and simple to use software Searchable content Quick to make simple books

Reasons to avoid

Print quality could be higher

Picaboo takes fourth place as, once again, it offers some great software that straddles the line between easy-to-use and rich with content for creative options. The ability to search through background and clip art is really useful. This falls down on print quality compared to the top two, but is still better than most others out there. 

Picaboo has plenty of themes options, but if you’re looking for children’s prsents, the company has added a fantastic personalized story book – so you could create a personal fairy tale for the little ones.

And if it’s not children that you’re buying for, the company does offer plenty of other options including Wedding, Travel, Baby and much more. The company also offers 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your product – if you contact Picaboo within 30 days you’re eligible for a refund. For more information on this, check out the Picaboo’s Satisfaction Guarantee.

A straightforward and easy to use website, Picaboo is an ideal option if you want to start and finish your photo book as quickly as possible.

A nice option to polish photos and help them match backgrounds is a great touch here that makes a professional finish a possibility.

A beautiful photo book

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

6. Amazon Prints

High quality finished book from the big brand


Custom photo books: Yes

Themes: 100

Theme options: Family, Baby, Wedding, Travel, Yearbook and more

Cover options: Hard, soft

Paper options: Pearl, luster, glossy, matte

Sizes: Landscape, square, portrait

Reasons to buy

Great pricing A brand you know Easy to use and design

Reasons to avoid

Not as many options as the specialists

You buy everything else from the retail giant, so why not your photo book as well? With Amazon Prints you can put together your dream photo book with all those cherished memories before ordering with the rest of your shop. Although Amazon Prime members get preferential treatment in terms of delivery time, everyone (including Prime and non Prime customers) get to select from the dozens of customizable options and sizes. 

Although Amazon Prints does not offer as many binding and cover options as some of its competitors, it makes up for this with its ace pricing and easy to use functions. Plus it still offers the option to make a custom photo book and you still get plenty of paper and size options, as well as a hefty amount of 100 general theme options.

So if you don’t need too many features or options, and just want a custom photo book at great pricing – Amazon Prints could be ideal for you.

You can get up to 150 pages of photos, text, and embellishments with an optional glossy hard cover. Well worth a look.

Photo book FAQ

What is the best photo book of 2021?

Combining an interface that’s really easy to use, pricing that won’t break the bank and quality that won’t disappoint, Mixbook is the best photo book provider of them all right now. It has hundreds of themes to choose from, with specialized designs for wedding snaps, holiday memories, baby keepsakes and more. You can customize them all as much or as little as you wish, to create the perfect photo book to keep or give to a loved one.

Who has the best quality photo books?

If your main priority is sheer quality – getting a photo book that really impresses but might cost a little more – then we’d heartily suggest that you take a look at Artifact Uprising’s collection. The finish you get is a notch above what most of its competitors can offer, with special touches like foil embossments and walnut presentation boxes on offer, too. And the template designs themselves are genuinely handsome, too.

What is the best size for a photo book?

Sorry, we’re going to completely sit on the fence on this one and say… it depends! If it’s just cheap photo gifts that you have in mind, then keep the costs down by going for not much bigger than 8 x 8 inch. That’s more than enough space to create an enduring keepsake.

But if you’re after something more special, then crank things up. Taking things up to A4 or even A3 size means that you’ll get larger (or more) photos to cherish and can turn your photo book into a stunning talking point to put on your coffee table.

Is Snapfish or Shutterfly better?

These are probably the two most well-known photo book providers in the US, and both offer a good product and plenty of customization options. There isn’t much too choose between them – even their pricing is similar – but in a direct head-to-head, Snapfish has it by a nose. The quality of the finished product is more consistently better, in our view, and it’s an absolute doddle to use.

Photo book

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Photo book hints and tips

If you’ve never made your own photo book album before then it can look like a daunting task. The best photo book sites give you myriad options and features to tailor-make your ideal book and that can be overwhelming at first. But it doesn’t have to be…here are some things to keep in mind if you need a bit of direction:

Keep it simple: You could spend hours and hours creating your perfect photo book, with the trimming and bordering of every page and photo custom designed and a different font for every occasion. Could. If you’re new to photo book creation, we’d suggest starting with one of the hundreds of themes that each service provides. That way, you still get a beautiful book, but need only think about what photos you want where without having to get hung up on every last detail. Themes usually range through every event you can think of: Christmas, birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, graduations, Bar Mitzvas… the list goes on!

Size matters: As with anything; the more you pay, the more expensive it becomes. And the price really can escalate, especially as your pages mount up. If you just want a keepsake of an event or holiday and are after something tangible rather than scrolling through your photos, then keeping it small can also keep the costs down. But if it’s a special holiday you’re commemorating, or perhaps a wedding or christening – a book that will live out on your coffee table – you may wish to crank up the size as a photo book can be a very special object to keep forever.

Matte, glossy or lustre: The finish of the pages are purely personal preference, but it can be tricky to decide. Glossy is usually the most affordable option and is most like a traditional photo album of old, so you can’t really go wrong – it also makes your colorful snaps look even more vibrant. But going for Matte lends a certain air of luxury to the product and some services will make these pages thicker, too (which is reflected in the cost). If you need to hedge your bets, a few photo book sites will give an option somewhere in between called something like Lustre or Semi-Gloss.

Pimp your photo book: If you’re a bit of a photo book pro (or have the time to be a bit more daring), then the likes of Mixbook and Snapfish have some frankly awesome customisation options. Every single detail is at your disposal, from the positions of the snaps, background detailing, front and back cover design and personalised text to accompany each and every photo.

Be careful of timings: In the age of Amazon Prime, we’ve got all too used to ordering something one day and it arriving the next. Not so with photo books. OK, so you can pay extra for expedited delivery, but generally you’re looking at at least a week before your handsome photo book drops on to your door mat. So we seriously advise planning ahead, especially around peak times like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

January 14, 2021
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