MyPublisher/Shutterfly/Mixbook/Blurb photobook experience

I was making a photobook for my parents. I had used Blurb and MyPublisher before, and although both were decent, I simply can’t understand why everybody fails in one way or another.

My last book was done with MyPublisher. It always has some big sales, and with those sales the books become quite reasonably priced especially for its quality. Let me just summarize the pros and cons:

  • Its lay-flat binding and super glossy pages upgrades get you something very professionaly-looking.
  • When you time it for promotion, the price is actually one of the best for the quality it offers. The $70 for 100 pages of very large photobooks was great if you can stuff the book with pages.
  • It has some nice clip arts and backgrounds if you’re into those.

Its cons, however are many:

  • Its software is just horrible. I won’t comment on how clunky it is nor how many bugs and crashes I’ve encountered, but in this round I simply couldn’t even place an order. After working on the project for over a week, I was super angry when it crapped out. Moreover this was right when the promotion was ending. Great. Their customer service came back with a downgraded version of the software which seem to do the job, and they also extended the promo, so in the end I still went with them. But why does it have to be so painful?
  • I’ve experienced this in my last photobook with them, but since I’m senile I keep forgetting this crap they put through people. If you upgrade to lay flat, it costs $45. The super glossy is another $20. Now here’s the unethical thing they do. If you don’t get either when you check out, you can actually get both upgrades for just $26. That’s more than half off! If you paid the regular price, you DO NOT get a discount and will never know this deceptive practice.
  • They have a very small collection of backgrounds and clip art, and there are very limited customizations you can do to photos, when you compare with other options like Mixbook which allows you framing and shadows etc.

I still order from them because of the price/quality. But you have to wonder why people would give them very low ratings – they’re simply poorly run. I dunno whether this is an effect of them being acquired by Shutterfly, but what a horror story.

I switched to two different services and tried to redo my book on Shutterfly and Mixbook, after MyPublisher’s initial screw up and my lost faith in them.  Shutterfly turned out to be much more expensive with less options, even with a 50% off coupon applied. The software was way better than MyPublisher’s and I had a breeze working with it. But since it was so costly, I looked elsewhere, and turned up Mixbook. By far, Mixbook was the most versatile. It has many different options for photo placement and decorations, the most important one for me being shadows to make photos “pop”. When you layer photos in a collage, shadows let you get away with piling things up, and I find it indispensable. Since MyPublisher was still a better deal and my book was complete with them, I didn’t use Mixbook this time, but I’ll certainly try it for my next book.

Oh, and what about Blurb? Its options are so limited that it was pointless to continue with it. It also wasn’t particularly cheap when you throw in all the options – and it didn’t have lay flat binding either. So it quickly became an afterthought.

Categorized as Misc

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