I was very impressed with how quickly Shutterfly filled my photo book order. (Read about the original idea here.) Overall the experience was very good. Here are some photos of the finished product:
The finished book is 12 x 12, and 32 pages long. It cost me about $75 to print including shipping, and that was with a 20% discount that they were running. (The 12 x 12 size is quite a bit more than some of their other formats). Overall, it seems worth it considering the quality of the book.
I am totally doing this again. My plan is to do a book for every year of our married lives. But with that investment, I'll be staging it out slowly :) I think I'll start with 2008 and work backwards.
If you are considering doing a photo book yourself, read on. (If not, I won't be offended if you skip on outta here!) Here are a few things I learned.
1. I did quite a bit of research before choosing my printer. Shutterfly had great reviews all around. I was looking for full custom options, but if you want templates to help you, they have a lot of options.
A few other options I considered:
a) Blurb: I've heard they produce good quality books, but you have to pay extra to remove their logo (does it appear on every page? I wasn't sure on that. My Shutterfly book has their logo on the last page). Also, they don't have phone customer support so you have to depend on e-mail to communicate with them.
b) iPhoto: As a Mac user this would be an obvious option, but their formats and templates were to restricting for what I wanted to do with this particular book. I hear their quality is great.
c) Shared Ink: They have excellent options if you want higher quality, but it comes with a price.
d) My Publisher, Smilebooks, and a few others were ruled out because their software works only on a PC and I'm a Mac girl, all the way. I'm like allergic to Windows or something.
2. The method I used on this book (scanning real scrapbook pages) took quite a bit of time to prep because I had to add bleed on all the edges so it wouldn't cut off the content on the pages. I also typed all the journaling so it would be easier to read. Uploading it to Shutterfly, however, was a snap. If I build layouts from scratch in Photoshop, I can build them to exactly the size I need. Shutterfly has Photoshop templates you can download.
3. The color isn't perfect. As someone who is familiar with printing, I'm probably extra sensitive to this. Overall things seemed to print heavier than they looked on my screen. But, if there is one thing I've learned in my line of work, its that printing is not an exact science. For what it is, this is pretty darn impressive.