Like Costco, Amazon Prints is powered by Snapfish, so the three services' photo-book interfaces are very similar — not necessarily a good thing. Amazon's software is flexible but uneven, with fully editable templates and layouts and some generally attractive content. But it's even more limited than what Snapfish or Costco offer, and the finished product looked and felt cheap.
Creating Your Book: Flexibility, cumbersome interface
The Amazon Prints service has added a few templates since our review last year (when it had only two), and they are fully editable. I liked that I could choose a different layout for each page, simply click to add text blocks, and drag and drop photos and clip art onto pages.
The comparatively limited number of layouts is organized by the number of photos and includes a couple of useful yearbook-type grids for photos and a nice text-only option. In addition, the software has a selection of attractively designed pages, complete with clip art, text and nicely arranged photo placeholders.
However, both the backgrounds and the clip art are poorly organized, and the service lacks a search engine. As such, it wasn't easy to find the graphics I sought. On the other hand, the interface has a convenient Recently Used area for backgrounds and clip art. While there's a limited color palette for borders, there is a convenient slider for controlling the weight of the line.
It was easy to resize, reshape, move, zoom/pan and rotate photos and clip art. I also liked that I could set one of my photos as the background for a single page or a two-page spread. However, like Costco, Amazon Prints' photo-book interface has no photo-editing tools and no drop shadow. Its text-tool options include font, color, background color, alignment and size, but no bold or italics.
The Printed Book: Cheap book, uneven photo quality
Photo reproduction in the finished Amazon book was uneven. Some photos had pleasant saturation, contrast and vibrancy, as well as great details throughout the dynamic range. Others were muddy. The cover image was soft. The type had rough edges, and the letters weren't solidly formed.
The physical book showed evident signs of cost cutting. It had no endsheet separating the first photo page from the cover (whereas most of our other books did). In addition, the binding was loose and already ripping. The exterior was smooth and even, though with some wrinkles on the corners of the spine.
Price and Options
A 20-page, 8 x 8-inch, hardbound photo book from Amazon cost $17.99. (The same-size book from Snapfish cost $29.99, while Costco's larger book was priced at two for $29.99). Amazon's other sizes and styles include an 8 x 11-inch book for $21.99, a 12 x 12-inch book for $39.99, a softcover 5 x 7-inch book for $8.99 and layflat books starting at $44.99 (for an 8 x 11-inch book). Our favorite budget option, Shutterfly, charges $29.99 for a 20-page book.
MORE: Best Services for Creating and Printing Photo Books
Other Amazon photo products include calendars, postcards, mouse pads, coffee mugs, blankets, ornaments, prints and posters.
Amazon didn't choose wisely when it selected Snapfish to power its photo books. The software is limited, the clip art and backgrounds poorly organized, and the book production low-quality. For your photo book, we recommend going with AdoramaPix for a top quality (though expensive) photo book. Or, go with Shutterfly, for a quality, creative experience and a lovely product that costs just a bit more than Amazon.
|Import photos from||Your device|
|Templates & layouts||Fully editable|
|Backgrounds||Limited selection and poorly organized|
|Clip art||Sizable library and poorly organized|
|Text||Customizable, but no bold or italics|
Credit: Tom's Guide