The Best Photo Book Printing Services 2018

Personal photo books filled with shared memories make for a great gift, and are also wonderful, unique mementos of vacations and events that can be treasured for years to come. Designing a personal photo book isn't overly hard, either, but of the numerous online photo-book printing services, which should you use?

For the third year in a row, Mixbook is our favorite photo book service. Mixbook's software provides an excellent combination of flexible tools, great functionality and large searchable libraries of very appealing content, all in an interface that's both easy and fun to use. What's more, our beautiful Mixbook photo book handled our varied selection of photos with skill, delivering great color, exposure and clarity.

Is this your first time making a photo book? We've put together a step-by-step guide on how to create your own photo book using Mixbook.

Latest News & Updates (October 2018)

While Apple has discontinued its photo printing service as of September 30, 2018, the company that it contracted to print all those products has created a MacOS extension called Motif, which you can use to create photo books, calendars, and cards. Alternatively, Shutterfly, Mimeo Photos, Mpix, Fujifilm, Wix, and others have extensions for Apple Photos, which lets you use their services to print a photo book.

We're also in the process of testing a new batch of photo book services, so stay tuned for our reviews.

Trying to decide between Mixbook and Shutterfly? We've compared both services in a multi-round showdown.

Photo Book Services Ranked

1. Mixbook Photo Book ( on From $11.99 - Save up to 45%) - 9/10 stars - Read the Mixbook Review
Apple Photo Book ( on From $9.99) - 8/10 stars - Read the Apple Photo Review
Picaboo Photo Book ( on From $19.99) - 7/10 stars - Read the Picaboo Review
Shutterfly Photo Book ( on From $15.99) - 6/10 stars - Read the Shutterfly Review
Costco Photo Book ( on From $19.99) - 5/10 stars - Read the Costo Photo Review
Snapfish Photo Book ( on From $12.99) - 4/10 stars - Read the Snapfish Review
Amazon Photo Book ( on From $8.99) - 4/10 stars - Read the Amazon Print Services Review
Nations Photo Lab ( on From $29.00) - 3/10 stars - Read the Nations Photo Lab Review

How We Test and Rate Photo Book Services

We looked at eight popular websites — Amazon Print, Apple Photo, Costco, Mixbook, Nations Photo Lab, Picaboo, Shutterfly and Snapfish — putting them through their paces to see which ones delivered both a great user experience and a photo book you'd be proud to give.

We put out a call to our friends and fans for pictures of people with their pets. As a result, we were able to put together a collection of photos from a wide variety of sources, ranging from phones and point-and-shoot cameras to DSLRs. The photographers were mostly amateurs, though one was a pro and a few were serious hobbyists. We did no editing of the pictures other than to crop some of them. Thus, we were able to emulate a typical family's experience, which often involves simply uploading photos from various vacations, parties and other events, taken in a variety of lighting conditions. This would test the photo services' ability to balance various photographic color temperatures. (Mixbook and Apple did a nice job balancing. Others had difficulty with it.)

We designed a 20-page photo book with these photos. To test the flexibility and creativity each software allowed, our design included rotated and resized pictures and clip art, along with angled text. We took advantage of the best each service had to offer in terms of templates, layouts, clip art, text and backgrounds. However, we sometimes found it difficult to locate just the right content on those sites whose libraries weren't well-organized or searchable.

In rating the software, we used the following criteria:

  • Ease of use
  • User interface and workflow
  • Functionality
  • Creative flexibility
  • Quality of templates, clip art, layouts and backgrounds

After our printed photo books arrived, we assembled a jury of print and photography experts to rate the books, using the following criteria:

  • Overall appeal and quality of the physical book
  • Photo quality
  • Color and skin tones
  • Dynamic range and exposure
  • Focus and clarity
  • Balancing of the diverse pictures

All books were identified by numbers rather than brand names during the judging. Though the names of some vendors are printed on the books, the jury was discouraged from looking at those brand identifiers until after the judging.

In our ratings, we gave the greatest weight to the quality of the services' photo reproduction, because that's the entire purpose of a photo book. We also took cost into consideration.

Best Photo Book Service: Mixbook (9/10 stars, Editors' Choice Award)

Mixbook's photo books may be a bit pricey, but you'll get a fun-to-make, creative, beautiful book. The easy-to-use software is very flexible and has a lot of great clip art and backgrounds. Our jury judged our Mixbook very attractive, with the best photo reproduction and color balance among all the books' pictures.

Best Value: Apple Photo (8/10 stars)

Choose Apple Photo for your photo book if you want a gorgeous physical book at a very reasonable price. Compared to Mixbook, the software is very limited, with few choices and rigid layouts. Photo reproduction was quite good, but not on a level with Mixbook's.

Picaboo (7/10 stars)

Picaboo's photo book software is almost on a par with Mixbook's for fun creativity and flexibility. It’s easy to use, has searchable and attractive content, and offers great tools for designing a highly customized book. However, the resulting book didn't deliver on the promise of the great software; its photo exposure and color were inconsistent and often poor, and the book production was merely OK.

Shutterfly (6/10 stars)

Shutterfly's photo book slipped in our ratings this year. Its software still offers great templates, backgrounds and clip art, though the interface is cumbersome. While the Shutterfly book itself was physically lovely, our jury rated the photo reproduction in our test book as merely OK to poor.

Costco (5/10 stars)

Costco's photo-book-creation software has a nice level of flexibility. While it uses software almost identical Nations Photo Lab’s, Costco's software has more content, all of which tends to be quite attractive. But the most significant difference between the two is that the quality of Costco's physical book was good, unlike the poor book production of Nations Photo Labs. However, Costco's photo reproduction was uneven.

Snapfish (4/10 stars)

Snapfish photo-book software has some nice content and good features, but its physical photo book didn't measure up. Our jury judged the book production cheap and the photos uneven and generally disappointing.

Amazon Print (4/10 stars)

Don't bother with Amazon Print for your photo book. The software (powered by Snapfish) is more limited than Snapfish's, with less content. Plus, our jury rated the print book generally unappealing.

Nations Photo Lab (3/10 stars)

The quality of Nations Photo Lab's physical book was poor, with endpapers that didn't even cover the binding linen. The software, though nicely flexible, was limited, and photo reproduction was uneven with, none of the photos turning out great.

Credit: Tom's Guide

Create a new thread in the Digital Cameras forum about this subject
Comment from the forums
    Your comment
  • sscoop1
    Mixbook OWNS all your photos once you up load!!!! Here is what you agree to! Where is Mixbooks business ethics? Because I pay for your service you now own all my pictures!!! I am a professional Photographer...This is like me telling a wedding couple, because you bought my services, I have the right to sell all your pictures on the internet. NO !!!!!! Weher is Mixbooks business ethics ?????

    Here is their agreement:

    By posting Member Content to any part of the Service, you hereby grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to Mixbook an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, perform, display, modify, publish, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such Member Content and to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such information and content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses to do the foregoing.
  • deblal
    Seeing as Apple Photos is discontinuing its photobook services, I suggest Mimeo Photos extension to make your photo projects directly from your Mac Photos app. They make it really easy with a lot of great themes to choose from. Plus I love the creativity and flexibility I have to make my photobook the way I want it to look.
  • jasonajg84
    thanks for the update. from your review, it seems like you are reviewing general book printers company. i would say there are much more better photobook printing providers online. where they focus more on quality instead of quantity.
    to name a few:
    Artifact uprising - great quality and shipping
    milkbooks - hand made book with fine material
    Flipchap - Hand made photobook and wedidng album, they are focusing on product options, like paper, color, material, finishing touch and fine detail.