Thursday, November 25, 2010

Photobooks Canada

Recently I ordered four books from Photobooks Canada as Christmas gifts for family members.  All four books are full of pictures of my recent wedding and are similar to those photo books that many wedding photographers offer in their packages package (in fact, some wedding photographers use this exact company to create those books).

To properly review Photobooks Canada, I’m splitting the review into two parts. This means it’s going to be a long one, but if you’re considering creating a photo book or using this company, this is a review worth reading.

Designing the Book
First off, if you say, struggle to add photos to Facebook, don’t even both trying to use Photobook’s free design software. It’s not actually that hard to use but it does offer a ton of choices and does require a certain amount of computer intuition, if that makes sense (but don’t worry, you don’t need to know HTML or how to edit photos or anything like that).

You’re also going to need high-res digital JPEG files of your photos and I recommend that you have these ready to go, in a folder on your Desktop. You can add in photos after you’ve started the process, but having the majority of them all in one folder will help make things go smoother.

While you can design your photo book from scratch, I recommend using the wizard.  It basically takes your folder of photos and then distributes them over the number of pages you’re going with (and yes, you can easily add in more pages later).

For some people, that might be your book, done right there. For others, you might just need to adjust how the image are cropped or swap the placement of certain images (all super easy to do). 

My pictures were pulled in a weird order so I ended up moving almost all of them around but the wizard did give me some great ideas about how the photos could be displayed. The software offers you dozens of different templates and if it weren’t for the wizard, there’s no way I would have thought of using some of them.

Do spend some time just playing around with the software and seeing what you can do because this program allows you to be quite creative. And do look at some of site’s examples for ideas you can be inspired from.

Overall, I found designing the book to be a fun and easy process. The only thing that annoyed me was that all of the backgrounds have at least some kind of pattern to them. Now, the templates all start with either a solid black or white background and while most templates come in either colour, some of them don’t. So if you have a template that only comes initially in a black background but want it to have a solid white background, well, too bad.

But on the plus side, you can download a free proof of your book and see exactly how it should look in real life.

Checking out and uploading my photos was also a pretty smooth process though uploading the photos can take a while so be prepared for that.

The Actual Product
The Photobook model we went with was the 11" x 8", Imagewrap hardcover book for $65. For this price, we got 40 pages of photos and images on both the front and back of matte laminated hardcover.

In full honesty, I wasn’t at first impressed by my Photobook. Just judging it just from the cover, it seemed rather year-book-y, though one with crisp, clear photos on the front and back.

Thankfully, I was more pleased with what was inside. The paper stock really is excellent and my photos were bright, colourful and laid out just like they were supposed to be. So at minimum we ended up with high-quality year books.

If you want, you can spend more money and upgrade to the PRO series, which, with leather covers, looks nothing like a yearbook. But then the cheapest PRO model is $300.

While $65 for what I got is a bit on the high end, Photobooks Canada seems to often run sales/offer discounts or coupons that turn their products into great deals. For example, it’s currently running a holiday promo were using the promo code “HOLSAVE40” will save you 40% the cost of a book.

Would I buy this again: Yes
Should you buy it: Yes

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