Shutterfly Versus Blurb

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Shutterfly got started in 1999, so it had plenty of time to create great products before many other companies even formed. The photo book has been the company’s flagship product for several years. Many people choose to make photo books with Shutterfly because they are familiar with the company. They know that the business does good work, so they feel comfortable using it to make personal photo books.

Storing images on a hard drive, CD or DVD might seem like a convenient option, but many people miss the opportunity to hold photos in their hands. The digital revolution will never change that. With Shutterfly, people can create photo books that memorialize important events, such as weddings and graduation days.

Today, many companies offer services that are similar to Shutterfly’s. Browse their options before you determine which company can make the best photo book at the right price for you.

How Does Shutterfly Photo Books Work?

Shutterfly gives you three ways to make a photo book. The Make My Book service takes all of the work off of your hands. Once you upload the pictures that you want included in your book, a professional designer will create a layout that brings the images to life. It takes about three days for the designer to make your book. It’s free to get started, though, if you want to check out the service before paying any money. You only have to pay when you decide to order a book.

The Custom Path option lets you create your own photo book from scratch. Shutterfly gives you access to all of its backgrounds, layouts and other embellishments that you might want to include. You also get to add text to any or all of the pages.

Custom Path is a good option for people who want to take control over their photo book projects. If you have some graphic design experience, then you may find that Custom Path gives you something fun to do over the weekend. Even if you don’t have any experience with graphic design, Shutterfly’s online software makes it relatively easy for you to add the pictures, texts and decorations that you want.

The Simple Path is your easiest way to make a photo book without paying a professional designer to do the work for you. Simple Path gives you 40 styles with preset layouts and backgrounds. Once you choose the style that you want, you simply add your pictures (up to 30 per page). Simple Path can arrange pictures for you, but it does so randomly. If you let Simple Path arrange your photos, you will probably want to go back to rearrange or replace some of them.

After creating the inside of your book, you choose additional features that will make it a unique item. Many of the additional features cost extra money, so pay attention to your total price as you customize your project. Then, Shutterfly can get to work making your book. Within a week or so (depending on the delivery method you choose), your new book will arrive.

What Makes Shutterfly Photo Books Stand Out?

Shutterfly Photo Books stand out by offering such a wide variety of printing and packaging options. Many companies only let you choose between two or three types of paper for your covers and pages. Shutterfly has a large catalog that you can use to personalize your photo books.

It’s also important to note that Shutterfly has a lot of experience in this area. The publishing company has been printing photo books since 1999. Over the years, Shutterfly has learned effective ways to print high-quality books without charging high prices. That helps make it one of the most popular photo book publishers on the internet.

Common Reviews of Shutterfly Photo Books

Practically everyone who uses Shutterfly to make photo books seems to love the service. Reviewers point to the high quality of the photos, binding, covers and pages as proof that Shutterfly does a better job than most printers. A lot of people also like that the company has so many options to add to their books. This doesn’t just include upgraded jackets and paper. It also includes clip art and themes that can turn drab books into fun objects that you’ll want to leave on the living room table for guests to browse.

Of course, you can always find some negative reviews. Even the best companies make mistakes. A handful of unhappy customers complain that they did not receive their photo books by the expected dates. A late delivery could matter a lot to someone who plans to give photo books away as presents. If the package doesn’t arrive by the right time, then you won’t have gifts for your special event. Shutterfly and other companies need to realize that delivery times make a difference to their customers.

Other than missing some delivery deadlines, Shutterfly gets stellar reviews from everyone who uses the company’s photo book services.

Is Shutterfly Photo Books for Me?

In most cases, Shutterfly is a good choice for people who want to print personal photo books. The company has affordable prices and excellent books, so practically anyone will enjoy using their services.

If you’re a professional, however, you may want to look for a photo book publisher that offers additional services. That’s especially true for professionals and experienced amateurs who plan to sell their photo books to consumers. There are other companies that will print professional photo books and help you sell them online through a variety of websites. A casual consumer wouldn’t want to use these companies. Someone with professional or commercial aspirations, however, should choose one of those companies over Shutterfly.

For the most part, though, Shutterfly is one of the best photo book publishers that you can choose. Of course, you should always compare prices and options from several companies before you decide to use Shutterfly. Most people, however, quickly discover that Shutterfly offers some of the best deals on the types of photo book services that they want.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Versus Reviews. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.

Blurb started printing photo books in 2004. The company set out to offer something different from what other companies were doing. While most photo book companies want to attract typical consumers, Blurb takes a greater interest in working for professionals who want excellent books that they could possibly resell.

How Do Blurb Photo Books Work?

Before you can make a Blurb photo book, you have to download the company’s graphic design software, named BookWright, to your computer. When you start a new project with BookWright, you need to choose layout option for your page. Simply select a layout and drag it onto the page.

Once you have the layout that you want to use, you create a photo and text tab for your page. You then navigate through your images and insert the photo you want on the page. You can add text if you want, but you don’t have to.

Unlike most web-based graphic design software, BookWright has a ruler and guide that will help you lay out your page elements perfectly. This part of the software makes the end result feel much more professional than the photo books you get from most other companies.

Before finishing your book, you can create front and back covers. You can also add information such as the author’s name and the title.

BookWright has a helpful icon that lets you know when you’ve made a page that may not print properly. If you make any mistakes while making pages, this icon will alert you to the problem.

If you don’t want to use BookWright, you can make your designs with Adobe InDesign, Booksmart or Bookify. You can also upload PDF files made with other software options. Again, professional bookmakers adore these options. Most people, however, just want a simple way to make their photo books look attractive. To beginners, these other options feel just as confusing as BookWright. Professionals who have favorite pieces of software, however, don’t have to learn a new platform to work on their projects.

What Makes Blurb Photo Books Stand Out?

Blurb stands out for its commitment to meeting the needs of professional writers and artists. The company knows that it gets negative reviews for taking this approach. Laymen who choose Blurb by happenstance may find themselves confused by the design and printing processes.

While most people say that this creates a weakness for Blurb, professionals know that they can trust the company to finish their projects well. When you want to make and sell a book, you have different priorities than those of people who want their photo books to sit on their living room tables. Blurb is the kind of company that gives professional and semi-professional publishers the services they need to succeed.

Common Reviews of Blurb Photo Books

Not surprisingly, some people love Blurb, and others don’t like it at all. Fans of the company enjoy using its sophisticated graphic design software instead of a web-based alternative that doesn’t come with as many options. In other words, these people have experience with graphic design, and they like using software that they’re familiar with.

Of course, most people don’t have experience using professional graphic design software. Negative reviews from these users point out that the software isn’t as intuitive as Blurb seems to think. Even after watching online tutorials, many customers struggle to make pages look right. To them, it seems like an arbitrarily difficult task.

Customers give Blurb overwhelmingly positive reviews for its wide range of print and cover options. You won’t find many companies that let you choose among newsstand paper, standard book paper and photo quality paper. In most cases, you can only choose between one or two types of paper. Blurb gives you a more professional edge by offering more options.

Blurb clearly knows that some of its users plan to sell their books to consumers. One of the great things about Blurb is that it lets you sell your book through the Blurb website, or your personal website. You can also set up a pre-sell with Kickstarter to fund your project. Blurb has an entire program dedicated to Kickstarter pre-sells. This makes it a terrific option for authors who need to raise money before printing their books.

Some people feel that Blurb has high prices. That’s true when you compare its products to those made by most photo book printers. Keep in mind that Blurb operates on a professional level. When you compare it to other publishers that offer similar services, you will realize that Blurb has affordable prices.

Are Blurb Photo Books for Me?

For the most part, everyday consumers don’t like Blurb. They find the design software confusing, and they don’t like putting so much work into their projects. These people want an easy way to print the photos that they cherish. They’re not interested in unique printing options or selling their books online. If this sounds like you, then you should probably avoid Blurb. It’s a great company, but it isn’t right for you.

Graphic designers and authors, however, will love the printing and selling services that Blurb offers. You would have to get a publishing deal to find a better printing option.

If you want a high-quality photo book that you could sell to other people, then you should use Blurb. If not, then you should look at other photo book printers before making a decision. Blurb has excellent printing services and high-quality printing, but it’s probably not the company that meets your needs. Let people who are more serious about bookmaking spend their money getting professional books printed by Blurb.

About the Author

Jeff Hindenach

Jeff Hindenach is the co-founder of Versus Reviews. He graduated from Bowling Green State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism. He has a long history of journalism, with a background writing for newspapers such as the San Jose Mercury News and San Francisco Examiner, as well as writing for The Huffington Post, New York Times, Business Insider, CNBC, Newsday and The Street. He believes in giving readers the tools they need to get out of debt.