24 October 2012

WW: Picaboo versus Shutterfly Photo Books Review

You've gotten the wedding pictures, you may have ordered the large pictures through your photographer or elsewhere, now what?  Now, you can make a photo book!  As soon as I got my pictures on CDs I went to work on photo books.  They are not only wonderful things to have in your house, they make great presents to family and wedding party.

One of my photobooks displayed as wall art.

I had purchased a Groupon for Picaboo to get a few photo books because they offer the lay-flat pages that are ever so awesome for photo books.  I got to work and was incredibly disappointed by the lack of layouts for Picaboo.  For our wedding photo books, I wanted black backgrounds and just fill the pages with images and no text.  For some reason, this wasn't really working the way that I wanted for Picaboo, but I had the Groupons and had several photo books I needed to gift.  I ended up getting: two 6x8's to gift, two 8.5 x 11's with lay-flat pages to gift, and a 12x12 with lay-flat pages for us, since those were covered by the Groupons.  Overall, I was satisfied with the final products, except one of the 8.5 x 11's had some pages with ink smearing.  It wasn't on the pictures, it was on the binding, so I didn't want to deal with complaining since I was, by then, full swing in school.  I did get the books pretty fast after I ordered them with regular shipping.  Last thing I wasn't a big fan of was the user interface and I don't think it's something I would get used to.  

What I got: for each photo book, I got the Classic Custom with photos that can take up the front cover, spine, and back cover.  I didn't want the leather or linen-bound.  I wanted a picture to go all over the front cover and that not only seemed like the most appealing option, it was what the Groupon covered.  There are many different styles, however, and you can go here for styles and pricing.

As you all may or may not know, I am a huge fan of Shutterfly.  I receive those lovely orange packages a few times a year.  Though I don't recommend them for the larger prints, I do recommend them for photo books.  I tried not having bias going in to the process, because I've used a bunch of different services for photo books in my lifetime.  But there is a reason I keep going back to Shutterfly.

The user interface for me is a much more friendly.  There are two different ways you can create a photobook: the Custom Path or the Simple Path.  I generally use the Custom path because there is a lot more freedom to do your own thing, but I have used Simple Path for just throwing books quickly together.  

As far as layouts, there are a plethora of options to choose for layouts and picture placement.  And with the Custom Path, you can go in an edit individual pages even more with the ability to resize, move things around, etc.  It's a dream for people like me.  

Shutterfly is always having deals and such that can really save money.

At the time of ordering my main wedding book, Shutterfly did not have lay flat pages.  I wish they did, but ordered my main book without lay-flat, simply because I just wanted to have more freedom to create our main photo book recounting our beautiful wedding.  I ordered over 100 pages to the book and they had buy one get one free for pages at the time of ordering, plus free shipping on orders of $30 (a frequent deal), a magnet for our fridge, and I purchased a few 5x7 photo books with BOGO pricing as well for international family as gifts, then I got a whole bunch of prints from them because they were having a 50% off large prints sale.  All of this is a win for me.

Lastly, Shutterfly has always had quick delivery for it's cheapest delivery option.  I would get the packages 7-10 days after purchasing (since they still have to do the processing and printing of the products).  If I'm just getting prints, I normally get my orange packages sooner than that.

Except like two weeks later they launched lay-flat pages.  So now, they have wonderful lay-flat pages for all your photo book needs!  I'm so upset about that personally because I already spent my budget for wedding pictures and photo books, but I am determined to get our main wedding album with lay-flat pages one day because we have several pages in the book with full spreads (that span across the two pages), another wonderful option that Shutterfly offers.

Again, I might be biased, but you can see why!

For photobook sizing and pricing, click here.

One major annoyance: they have to have barcodes on the back of their books.  Why, Shutterfly, why?  This is incredibly annoying.  I guess I'm just glad they are on the back, but if there is a photo on the back it just can be ruined!  You are the only one that does this to my knowledge!

Other Options
I would love to give all of you a fair review of all the different services for you, but I simply don't have enough money in order to fully give the experience a fair review (which, to me, includes the quality of the printing).  But, if either of you use the following, let me know and I would love to use your reviews!
* I have previously created photobooks using Mixbook and did enjoy the experience.  It has been awhile so I can not offer an up-to-date review, but they seem to be adding more options for books, which I am excited about for you!  It also is apparently one of the best out there.

When I first started creating photo books, I used iPhoto.  I found they were pretty pricy and didn't offer discounts and specials so I stopped using them completely.  If this has changed, let me know!

Lastly, here is website that compared some of the photo book companies.

Disclaimer: other than my professional large print pictures, I do order my calendars, photo books, and prints from Shutterfly.  I also have a Shutterfly Share Site to share pictures with our family and friends from the wedding, family events, or other such occasions.  Shutterfly is no way in affiliation with this post, they are simply my favorite, go-to service for photo creations because they have always been easy to use, offer a variety of options, offer frequent discounts and special offers as incentives, and always produce quality printing.


  1. I did shutterfly for all my wedding books for friend/family plus calendars and love them!

  2. Mixbook is my favorite and I've tried a few as well!

  3. this is such a good idea Amy! love it :) i take so many pictures, some i really love and i love this idea of displaying them!

  4. Oh I'm complete opposite! I LOVE picaboo and just do not like shutterfly at all. I didn't even use the klout perk I got for one. It's funny how we're all different like that!

  5. Oh my goodness. Thank you so much for posting this! I normally use Snapfish since it's where all my pictures are housed. But I love that you can get lay-flat wedding albums online. I really love that! Our photographer wants to charge almost $600 for a leather lay flat album. And I can get one online for like $170. Wow. This opened my eyes!

  6. Hmm.. good to know! Again, I could be biased because I've been using Shutterfly for years and I dislike change! But they both have lay-flats, and that's all that matters now, right?

  7. Awh, I'm glad I could help! That's why I do some of these post-wedding posts. I loved finding lay-flat photobooks and was SO excited to get ours!!!

  8. Mixbook was really great when I used them. I might try them again since it's been a year and they seem to have quite a few new additions!

  9. I do family photo calendars as Christmas gifts every year. My mom and in-laws just LOVE them. I've even been paid to put together calendars for gifts. Shutterfly does so well with that. But I am tempted to give another photo site a chance with those and maybe conclude my reviews.

  10. I'm obsessed with displaying pictures!!! I have run out of wall space! And Shutterfly (and really many other places both online and in store) make it so affordable! Of course, I recommend maybe MPIX for the larger and varied sizes and formats of pictures.

  11. Thanks, Kelly! I wanted to do something more practical for this week's Wedding Wednesday post!

  12. Hi Amy, I happened across your review - you mentioned that you'd like to hear about reviews of other photo book companies. I write a blog on everything photo book.


    Congrats on your wedding!

    Photo Book Girl

  13. I wanted to thank you for this great read!! I definitely enjoying every little bit of it I have you bookmarked to check out new stuff you post.Ocean county wedding photographer

  14. This was really helpful. I've loved Shutterfly. I have hundreds of photos on file with them. I've been trying to return to Shutterfly, but every time, I get way too limited by what they offer. I made a 150 page photobook (never repeating a background page) a few yrs ago for our 20th wedding anniversary. It was BEAUTIFUL, SO easy, and Shutterfly was my very best friend for a few wks while I assembled it. I could choose any background, no matter what "category" it was in. Usually, I like to do year-in-review books for kids, so I want a halloween pg and a bday pg, a vacation pg, easter... all in one book. So what "theme" is that?? I hate having to choose a Path! The latest frustration is that I am making books for all my kiddos of our Disney vacation. How many pages can I find with bright colors, patterns, and even Disney theme? (I like subtle mouse-ears, etc.). Even if just for the back cover!! I don't know how to digitally scrapbook, so I cannot custom design on my own. I need a click the background and then drag the photos; journal the page and move on. Does anyone know of another site besides Picaboo that has this? I am hoping their photo quality is good. I've never met anyone that used them. It's going to be hard to beat Shutterfly.
    Anyhow, that's my long ramble, but I was SO in love with Shutterfly's the-sky's-the-limit possibilities. Now I'm not so in love. Is there something I'm missing?
    Thanks ever so much anyone...

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