Gadget Bag: Publish or Perish

New options are making it easier and more fun for you to create your own photo book

This Article Features Photo Zoom

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Few things in life are more gratifying than seeing a photo that you’ve taken published in a book. Books have a sense of permanency that suggests that your pictures will last forever. Thanks to today’s modern online picture-book publishers, you can begin this process without leaving your desk. It’s easy and affordable, and the production quality is astounding.

Beyond the sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, there are practical reasons to publish your own book. It offers a great way to promote your business—or yourself—in a unique format that others can’t exactly duplicate. Picture books make incomparable gifts, too, particularly when personalized for family members.

Plus, you can create collections of cherished images that become family heirlooms. Gather the best images from every family member and “art direct” the production of the family photo archive.

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With many sizes and style options to choose from, you can create a hardcover photo book for any occasion with AdoramaPix. The PixPublisher software works from any web browser, allowing you to simply drag and drop your photos into one of hundreds of templates. For a more customized look, build your book from scratch with a variety of color backgrounds, borders and frames to choose from. The pages are Fuji Crystal Archive Album photo paper, a professional-quality archival paper resistant to fading. An 8x10-inch book with 26 pages costs $34.

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Apple iPhoto

Apple offers more than just great ways to listen to music or edit photos. You can create picture books directly from within the company’s iPhoto application. Hardcover, softcover and wire-bound options are available, and you can choose from 13 predesigned book themes that feature photo drop zones and multiple formats. An 8½x11-inch hardcover book with matching dust jacket will cost you $30 for 10 pages (20 sides). Additional pages are $1 each, with a 100-page maximum.

Artography Photobook Designer is simple enough for first-time users, but robust enough to handle your creative needs as your skill improves. Once you’ve downloaded the software, you immediately can start designing your picture book. The program offers a full set of layout and editing options, including flexible text entry, along with a mix of sizes, shapes and formats. A Pocket Landscape photo book is $20 for 20 pages, and you can upgrade to a genuine leather cover for only $4 more. Completed projects usually ship within about three days.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

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AsukaBook is highly regarded as a top-tier provider of classy, luxurious photo books for all occasions. After registering on the website, you can do the layout yourself or seamlessly enlist the services of Red Boot Design, a group of professionals who are part of Kubota Photo Design, famous for its Photoshop plug-ins. AsukaBook offers an extensive assortment of book formats, including stitch-bound and book-bound, with various cover- and page-finish options. Blank templates, layout tips and a printable guide are available on AsukaBook’s website.

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Photo Book Press

Bangor Photo offers a special selection of Custom Cover Photo Books that allow you to use your favorite photo as a wraparound cover image. The scratch-resistant cover binds the pages perfectly using PUR Binding technology. It consists of an extremely strong, but highly flexible, binding adhesive and provides a clean, neat finish compared to stitching or staples. An 8½x11-inch book starts at $29 for 10 pages; additional pages cost $2 each.

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Blurb Travel Book

Blurb isn’t a book publisher; it’s an experience. Conceived, created and operated by ardent photographers who understand the production side of being creative, Blurb offers template-driven book publishing and lots of helpful mentoring. You can assemble a 40-page softbound collection for less than $13 or a 440-page tome with hardcover and dust jacket for $64. Blurb also is about sharing. You have the option of placing your book in Blurb’s bookstore for friends, family and other visitors to preview and purchase.

In the early days, the slogan of Eastman Kodak was, “You take the picture, we do the rest.” Today that could be shortened to “Upload your images, and we’ll take care of everything.” Kodak offers a variety of picture book-publishing options. Its lineup of hardcover classic photo books allows you to showcase your pictures and captions using Kodak’s professional designs and layouts. Cover size is 10¼x9 inches, and the base price includes 10 single-sided or 20 double-sided pages for around $35.

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Mpix is a division of Miller’s Professional Imaging, the largest professional photography lab in the U.S., and offers many options and styles of picture books. You can select from softcover, hardcover or suede hardcover books along with a variety of paper types, and then customize your creation. Pricing is quite reasonable. An 8½x8½-inch production costs $20 (with no minimum) for 12 pages. Additional pages run 50¢ each in increments of four with up to a 40-page maximum. To get started, go to the website and download the software. Templates are available. It’s that simple.

Photo Book Press
is a useful option if you want to make a photography book of images you shot on film. After you send the photos, they scan them and deliver an electronic workbook displaying image thumbnails and space for you to write captions. Then, Photo Book Press designers lay out the images. You can be as involved as you desire. Standard hardcovers feature sewn bindings with laminated photographic covers. Traditional leatherette or classic bookbinder’s cloth cover options also are available.

This Article Features Photo Zoom

gadget bag

RocketLife offers a fully featured, yet highly automated process that gets you up and running quickly. Begin by downloading the RocketLife software (it’s about 1 MB and takes no time at all), then upload your images. Once you select a theme, you can personalize your creation to suit your taste or let the application do all of the heavy lifting for you. Pricing ranges from $10 to $36 with cover options that include leather, canvas and suede.

Unibind’s Pro PhotoBook
steel-binding system allows you to create lasting, pro-quality books from home. It’s also perfect for producing scrapbooks, proof sets and ad hoc portfolios. The Pro PhotoBook kit includes self-adhesive end sheets, photo paper and other materials needed to bind up to 40 pages. Plenty of options are available, including covers with or without window openings. A 40-page, 8½x11-inch kit containing black linen covers in landscape format with picture window costs just $20 for a pack of two.

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Zookbinders Photobook

Aside from a full selection of book-printing services, White House Custom Colour provides long-run offset printing as an economical alternative for higher-quantity print runs with the same value and consistency found in short-run digital printing. Its press-printed books are renowned for high quality, superb craftsmanship and speedy turnaround time. Press-printed books are available in two paper options (standard or hinged) and several sizes from 5x5 to 11x14 inches.

Zookbinders PhotoBook
now offers large-format sizes of 9x9, 8x12 and 9x12 inches. Also available are 9x6- and 6x4-inch horizontal sizes ideal for panorama-style picture books. Other features include wraparound photo covers, pages that are designed to lie completely flat for viewing and a two-week delivery turnaround. Packages start at $100.

Adorama (888) 216-6400

Apple (800) MY-APPLE

Artography Photobook Designer

AsukaBook (866) 330-1530

Bangor Photo
(207) 942-6728


(800) 360-9098


Photo Book Press
(888) 333-6950



White House Custom Colour
(800) 252-5234

(800) 810-5745


    While it’s nice to see an article that compiles a larger-than-typical collection of photo book publishers, what your readers (at least this one) would like is some real feedback on quality differences, ease of use of software, user satisfaction, price-value, etc. I am weary of reading infomercials in Outdoor Photographer. Can your experts also give us some real advice? I understand your ad revenues come from a very small number of companies (camera manufacturers, lense makers, software firms, and printers), but if no one is making them nervous in public, how will we ever see improvements in their products? OP – please help!

    To the contrary Gary, but perhaps it is because I am an amateur photographer. I really like this article and will check out certain companies mentioned.

    Thank you Jon for also listing the prices!

    Great article!

    Thanks for the alternatives.

    Just a bit of buyer beware – Apple iPhoto produces books that have no color profiles and all bets are off on the print quality and color matching. This is a service for the lowest common computer user and not for picky photographers. After their lab told me they had no clue what a color profile was, I profiled my photos in sRGB color space and crossed my fingers; results were close on some, way off on others.

    I’d really like to know which of these vendors do provide a color profile for you to work with so you can be certain the book matches what you saw on the monitor.

    Thanks for listing a wealth of printers. I look forward to trying some of these companies.

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