Between our wedding and honeymoon last year, I had compiled with a lot of digital pictures to organize into memories for us and our families.
Never having made an online photo book before, I decided to test out a few different places: Lulu, Picaboo, and AdoramaPix. It helped that I got a deal from all three places using promotions, coupon codes, and Groupons.
First, I created a book for my grandparents with Lulu. I found the system to be simple and straightforward. In a way, it was a little too simple. Customizing pages was either not a real option or it wasn't very easy. It also yelled about sizing a lot--even for photos with high resolution.
The end result was nice. Photos were clear, yet the overall look was somewhat muted. Whether from the paper or ink, nothing really "popped." A 9x7 hardcover with 21 pages costs $25.45 plus shipping.
I next made several customized books for family members using Picaboo. This system allowed for more individual customization per page. There was a vast library of layouts and backgrounds from which to choose.
Picaboo's finished photo books have a reddish tone to them, making people like Tommie look rather flushed. The paper is also on the thin side. Two of the four books I ordered were printed with the wrong covers, but Picaboo was good about sending replacements. A 8.5x11 classic custom hardcover with 20 pages costs $39.99 plus shipping. It is $1 per additional page.
Lastly, I decided to go with AdoramaPix for our more artistic pictures from our honeymoon to Turkey. This system was also very customizable, though I was not impressed with any of the rather cheesy backgrounds. Sticking with black, white, and gray gave pages a classic look.
The quality of the finished photo book illustrates Adorama's place as a leader in the photo business. The book looks like a professional book of art with lay-flat pages, real photographic paper, and a lustre finish that gives images just the right amount of shine. It's also archival.
I don't know what it is about my bad luck with photo books, but my first book arrived with an upside-down cover. AdoramaPix was also good about sending a quick replacement. An 8x10 custom hardcover with 38 pages costs $68.95 plus shipping. One thing to note is that you can only order in page increments of 14, 26, 38, 40 and 76.
Though the most expensive of the three, AdoramaPix definitely offers the best quality, particularly for high resolution photos that you want to showcase.