Best Photo Book Printing Services 2015

Is there any better way to share photos and hold on to the memories they represent than a photo book? For consumers and amateur photographers, a book is a great way to store photographs from Baby's first birthday party, your vacation cruise to Alaska or a collection of your best pictures of flowers. For serious and professional photographers, photo books are also important marketing tools, as well as products (to sell to the bride and groom). But among the many online photo book services, which one is the best? 

We tested seven of the most popular photo book vendors: Blurb, Lulu, Mixbook, Mpix, Picaboo, Shutterfly and Snapfish. Our Editors' Choice Award goes to Mixbook, for its intelligent, versatile and creativity-enabling software and the excellent quality of its printed book. Shutterfly came in a very close second.

How We Tested and Rated

Our testing and analyses focused on two areas: the vendor's software for creating the photo book and the printed photo books themselves. In tallying our results, we gave double weight to our rating of the printed books, since no matter how good the software is, the end result is what is most important.

In testing and rating each service's photo-creation software, we paid particular attention to ease of use, as well as the quality and versatility of the software's themes, page layouts, clip art and more.

We also focused on flexibility and how well the software enables your creativity. In particular, how easy it is to customize and personalize the page layouts, such as adjusting photo or text size, orientation, and placement on the page.

To rate the printed photo books, we created a blind test for our small jury of experts in photography, printing, art and book production. In other words, none of us knew which book came from which service.

We ranked each book according to multiple attributes: Our judges evaluated the quality of the binding and paper, as well as the quality and attractiveness of the cover. We also paid close attention to photo reproduction (color, exposure, sharpness, dynamic range, etc.) and the overall look and feel of the book.

Clockwise, from bottom left: Picaboo, Mpix, Mixbook, Shutterfly, Lulu, Snapfish and Blurb.Clockwise, from bottom left: Picaboo, Mpix, Mixbook, Shutterfly, Lulu, Snapfish and Blurb.We ordered a single photo book from each vendor, making the following choices:

  • A 20-page hardbound book, with an image-wrapped cover, choosing the size closest to 8 x 8 inches.
  • We used an interface from each service that allowed us to custom-design our book, while testing their backgrounds, page layouts and so forth.
  • We did not pay for extra-quality paper, lay-flat pages or other such options.

Editors' Note: Whatever photo book service you use, be sure to look for coupon offers. You can find these on the homepage of the service's website or in an email you receive after registering on the website. We received considerable discounts on the Shutterfly and Snapfish books. (The prices quoted in the reviews are without the discounts.)

Best Photo Book Service: Mixbook Photo Book

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  • I have been using presto photo (formerly viovio) for years. Their quality is excellent, Meghan their expert in support is quite good, and the books are beautiful. oh and they are considerably cheaper than the competition. Their interface is clunky but if you have iphoto it doesn't matter - just make the book in iphoto, create a pdf and upload it. That method is so simple I wouldn't consider using a book maker that didn't offer pdf upload.