Printing a scrapbook album used to be a no brainer for me. I used Shutterfly and always got great results. But now Shutterfly has made some changes that have left me scratching my head.
What are they thinking? Certainly not about digital scrapbookers.
Digital scrapbookers used to have an option to select a photo book that was not pre-designed. Every page was a full page bleed, meaning you could upload one jpeg file, and it would cover the entire page.
In this digital scrapbook friendly system, the cover and the title page worked flawlessly. In short, the main thing you had to worry about was turning off Vivid Pics for each page, or the system would automatically color adjust your pages.
New Custom Path Not So Friendly
Now Shutterfly has introduced the Custom Path photo book, which contains many scrapbooking features. You upload the pictures that you want to use in your book and choose from the backgrounds and elements created by Shutterfly’s digital designers. Then the program gives you the option to adjust the look of each layout by adding, removing, or adjusting photos and text anywhere on the page.
Apparently, Shutterfly thinks that this will satisfy digital scrapbookers, but with the Custom Path they’re really only catering to people who never create their own digital pages.
And in reality, most digital scrapbookers are control freaks! We usually want control over every aspect of the page (not to mention which elements and papers we’re “allowed” to use). We want to print the pages that we’ve already created, not make new ones. In short, we want to design and create pages ourselves on our own computers, and all we need is a company who respects that and will give us a good quality printed book of our pages.
With the Shutterfly Custom Path we’ve encountered the following problems:
They have removed the full bleed page option for all photo book title pages (the first right hand page in the book) and have informed us that they have no plans to reinstate it.
The Customize Page menu gives you the option of dragging out a photo to full bleed size but it’s a clumsy and inaccurate way of making a photo fill the page.
If you use the “use Picture for a Background” option and remove the fade effect, apparently you still get a page number 1 printed in the corner because it’s a background effect.
Even on the regular pages, it’s annoying to have to select a full bleed option every time. If they know digital scrapbookers create the entire page, why don’t they include a full-bleed digital scrapbooking option in their choice of photo books? It would be such a simple gesture that they understand our needs.
On the front cover I found myself trying to “outwit” the program to get my full bleed page, since none was offered in the cover templates, but perhaps the biggest problem of all is that the spine doesn’t appear to line up with front and back covers in the preview. (We ordered a book and tested it — sure enough, it was close, but it didn’t quite line up.)
Shutterfly has known about this issue since June 2011, but has not fixed it. As one of our Team members said, “They don’t seem to have any sense of how important this is to scrapbookers. Digital scrapbooking must represent a very small percentage of their overall business for them to ignore us with such abandon!”
I also miss the nice presentation of the finished book.
Other Photo Book Companies
If you’re looking for a photo book company, check out these reviews that compare the top 14 photo book publishers, starting with their top pick first. Please note that only the first 10 companies are listed on the first page, so you’ll have to go to the second page to see the rest of them. (Look for the “Next 10” link in the upper right bar of the review panel.)
Another great resource is PhotoBookGirl.com.
And there are some publishers who are either too new to make the list or are still undiscovered by the public at large.
Persnickety Prints comes to mind… they’re great!
And there may be others that folks will want to share about in the comments. In fact, if you’ve used one of these companies, we’d love for you to comment on your experience, good or bad.
One note of caution: be sure to check whether these websites offer international shipping before you start uploading your albums if you are outside of the United States!
Get The Best Deals
And finally, here’s a great tip: GET ON THE MAILING LIST for the companies you like best, and start getting their promotional emails and coupons for discounts and savings! So when it’s time to print your book, you’ll have a deal that will save you some $$.