The title of best photo book service is fast becoming a competitive prize to win, as more and more options flood to the market. That’s a good thing for you, of course, as it means they’re getting better, cheaper and easier to use.
But why do you need to take the gigabytes’ worth of images from your camera phone and put them in to physical form? For starters, a top quality photo book album makes an excellent gift – poignant presents for birthdays, christenings, Mother’s Day, Christmas and beyond. Who doesn’t want the gift of happy memories and the good feelings that go with them? 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!
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.
Or maybe you’re thinking of something more practical. 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 shot – or moment. That’s one reason photo books can be so useful, as they distil moments for you to cherish as you take the time to physically flip through the book. From family events and weddings, to holidays and graduations, there’s a book for each of them.
What’s today’s best photo book service?
Our favorite is Mixbook, but more on that below. We’ve trawled photo book services for important factors like price, speed, quality, range of options, software simplicity and more. The result is a list of the very best photo book services in the US right now.
Best photo book sites in the US
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
High quality prints
Easy to use software
Nice options like stickers and materials
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, 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.
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
Generally easy to use
Good selection of templates
Lots of backgrounds
Print quality could be better
Landing 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.
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
Wide template selection
Plenty of backgrounds
Easy to use
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 1000 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.
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
Fun and simple to use software
Quick to make simple books
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 gifts, 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’s gifts that you’re looking 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.
5. 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
A brand you know
Easy to use and design
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 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.