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Photo Books: Blurb vs. Shutterfly

I know what the perfect momento of my upcoming Disney adventure would be: a photo book filled with pictures and memories!

Because… realization of childhood dream to visit the Mouse + our first big vacation together deserve some kind of remembrance, right? Instead of buying Disney souvenirs that will be tossed or lost later on, I’m splurging for this photo book project. I’d like to make 2 books – one for CB and one for me.

I’m thinking a book of about 20-35 pages, 80%-90% pictures. Size-wise, I’ll probably go for a small square book. Ideally, the books would be 12 inches by 12 inches – alas, that option is too expensive. I’ve heard good things about Blurb and Shutterfly, and will probably go with one of these companies when the time comes to put my book together.

Based on my online research, I made a short comparison of Blurb vs. Shutterfly, and would like all of you to weigh in!

Presentation31 Photo Books: Blurb vs. Shutterfly

Comments on Blurb:

  • cheaper price per page – if I go this route I will definitely get the 40 page book to get my money’s worth
  • read good reviews about the quality of the premium paper option
  • somewhat mixed reviews on quality of picture / printing

Comments on Shutterfly:

  • book dimensions are slightly larger than Blurbs (which is good!)
  • limit on page count – I will stick to a 20-page book with Shutterfly to avoid incurring additional costs
  • read reviews of pictures coming out “darker” or “more orange” than originally uploaded photos

I am just not sure about which company to go with. Because I have 2 months until I will be able to do a photo book, I suppose I have more time to research. But I think I’ve exhausted google-able reviews already…

So – this is where you can help, dear reader! What do you think about either (or both) of the companies? Please let me know about your photo book-making experiences!

  • Beachgirl - I have used Blurb for two books, and I’ve been really happy with them. You can find coupon codes online…usually for free shipping or 10% off. The quality of the pictures printed has been good for me. My first was imagewrap book with about 70-80 pages. The second was also imagewrap with a little over 200 pages. I just used the regular paper option. I’ve showed them to friends and family, and everyone says how great they are. My aunts and mom want me to make them books with their photos.ReplyCancel

  • Beachgirl - Oh yeah…definitely print out a review copy before having it printed. Then go through and make sure everything looks right…no white spaces, etc. I did that with both books and found some things to fix.ReplyCancel

  • Jenn Mc - I’m partial to Shutterfly. I have bought several books from them and I was HIGHLY satisfied with all. I even did a 100 page book for my DS. I know, I know . . . I paid a pretty penny. But it looks so professional and everyone is amazed when they look at it.

    HTH!ReplyCancel

  • Amy - The Disney Photopass site has an option for making books you can upload your own and use pictures from your Photopass. I’m sure it’s expensive but I’m always getting discount codes for it.ReplyCancel

  • Marmie - I have also used Blurb for a photo book of our European vacation summer before last. Everyone was very impressed with the quality of the printing and binding. As a photographer, I was not impressed with the paper/printing, but I’m used to professional prints, etc. As a keepsake, it’s great to have, and much more memorable than buying random tchotke’s that I’ll never display…ReplyCancel

  • Forest - We just used mypublisher.com for our wedding photo book and we were really happy with it. Not sure how much it cost–my wife paid for it :)

    I don’t have any experience with blurb or shutterfly, but I will be looking into them because I plan to make a book of our honeymoon pictures as a Christmas gift for Bird.ReplyCancel

  • ARR - Check out My Publisher as an option as well, I’ve used all of the photo book sites you mentioned and I think My Publisher is very easy to use and they often have 30-40% off sales (sign up for their newsletter); Blurb makes very nice books (and is usually the cheapest for doing larger books) but the lay-out options are more suited for portfolio/art books and less for scrapbook/memory type books.

    I’ve read all the complaints about photo coloring being off, but I’ve never had a problem with any of the sites: I think it might take a professional eye to notice any color variations.ReplyCancel

  • Kim - I haven’t used either…I’ve used Snapfish (8×11″, 20 pages, free because of a coupon from Oprah, $6.99 shipping. great success, though layouts and background designs are a bit restrictive) before, and my parents used iPhoto once (also great success).

    That sounds like a great idea though. Way better than spending a bunch of money on souvenirs that will just take up space and collect dust!
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..Wedding(s) Update =-.ReplyCancel

  • Disney World’s Money Magic: What We’ve Spent So Far | Well-Heeled, with a mission - [...] 2 photo books of our magical memories from Blurb or Shutterfly – one for me and one as a gift for [...]ReplyCancel

  • jc - I have started to make a book every year for a present for my Mom with pictures of the family so I’m in the middle of testing all of these book making sites.

    I have only used Snapfish so far and although it was okay (free from Oprah also) but I wouldn’t use them again. The book wasn’t as nice as I had expected and I thought the ordering process was confusing. I also agree the layouts were restrictive.

    I saw a Shutterfly book someone had made and it looked amazing – I don’t know the options they had selected but it looks like a good choice.

    I am currently designing a Blurb book and I have a coupon for 20% off plus free shipping (I think on up to 6?) but it expires the second to last week in November so it won’t help you. I’m going for the 80 page image wrap 8×10 landscape book, probably on regular paper. If you ask again I might be able to tell you how it comes out. What I do like is that you can design the book on software you download OR you can send them a PDF if you are handy with InDesign or another software program you aren’t restricted to templates.ReplyCancel

  • Revanche - What's your question about spine binding? Shutterfly has a decent bind. ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - I read somewhere that Shutterfly's binding is glued but Blurb's is stitched? Not sure if that's true… but I just don't want the book to fall apart after a few year's of handling. ReplyCancel

  • Emma - I just ordered a shutterfly 8*8 book last week, and am expecting it to be delivered by Wednesday of next week.

    I'll let you know how it turns out! If you're on Facebook, and part of the "Family Tree" group, you can get a coupon for a free Shutterfly 8*8 hard cover book – you just pay the shipping (6.99 to Canada). That would at least bring part of your photobook costs down!

    ReplyCancel

  • Jessica - I used Blurb to make a cookbook one time with pictures included for my grandparents' 50th wedding anniversary…turned out beautifully – but do make sure you print a proof copy for yourself before you order it!

    I've also used Shutterfly to make a book for my sister's wedding gift. It turned out nice, but I remember being frustrated with the limitations of Shutterfly's templates/layouts/background options. Blurb isn't exactly a blank canvas, but there was more flexibility if I remember correctly. ReplyCancel

  • Savannah - Both Blurb and Shutterfly allow you to design your own pages from scratch in Photoshop or another graphics program. For Blurb, you do it in Booksmart and for Shutterfly, you use their "Digital Scrapbook" occasion.

    Re. binding, I'm not sure about Blurb's but Shutterfly's is definitely glued. ReplyCancel

  • jc from above - I just received my Blurb book (glued binding) in the mail and I received 1/2 of my book and 1/2 of someone else's book all bound together. I contacted them about this and they are sending another one but won't refund my money, I'm also worried that family photos and personal information are in the book that someone else has received – that's kind of creepy). The quality of the images was poor. All photos will print a bit darker than the ones if you print them on paper but in my book the photos were really dark if there was even a bit of shadow there was no definition. Also the bright colors were over-saturated to the point of being garish. This guy has some images on his blog showing this problem. I just wish I had read it first. (cheekygrin.wordpress.com/2007/04/05/blurb-book-review-ii/ I think this should be the link). He rates a bunch of other publishers too.

    I've seen other compaints too. I have emailed the president of the company (can you tell I'm a bit upset?) so we shall see how they handle it. I hate to think of the money I've wasted there though.

    If you're looking for a sewn binding, I think Creative Memories has them but I've never used them so I can't say what the quality is like.

    Good luck! ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - Sorry to hear about your book. Please let us know what the president of Blurb does – you should ask for a new book AND and refund. Or at least a discount. That mistake reflects very poorly on their company's quality control. ReplyCancel

  • scrapbooker - Yes, Creative Memories uses a sewn binding. Excellent quality, color tone, page weight. A terrific product. You use CM's software called StoryBook Creator Plus. There is a free version called 2.0 which uses fixed templates in a variety of colors/styles. 3.0 is the version you can purchase and it is completely customizable (if you choose – or you can just drag & drop into templates). I have made several and they are wonderful. Go to CreativeMemories.com for more info and check out the digital products section. ReplyCancel

    • WellHeeled - Thanks. I will check out CM. The pricing is pretty high, but I do like the stitched binding… ReplyCancel

  • gustos247 - try elephoto.com its stitched binding.. great quality paper/prints. ReplyCancel

  • Groupon Good for the Budget? | Well Heeled Blog - [...] But sometimes, you are only paying $5 or $10 less with Groupon than on your own. Groupon featured a Shutterfly photobook coupon a few weeks ago, and when I did the math I realized I could order straight from Shutterfly [...]ReplyCancel

  • Photo Books - I also ordered few books last week and i am very excited to have them at hand. I will post how will it turn out :) ReplyCancel

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