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Shutterfly Photo Books

Over a Decade of Experience Means Solid Quality and Service

About.com Rating 5 Star Rating

By

Grandparents will enjoy creating photo books for grandchildren with Shutterfly.

Shutterfly makes it easy and fun to create photo books.

Photo © Shutterfly
Shutterfly, an online photo printing site that also offers photo gifts and photo books, usually finishes at or near the top when photo book sites are reviewed. How does it maintain its standing among the 20 or so companies that produce photo books? The proof is in the pudding, as the saying goes. Shutterfly offers an enormous range of options, making it easy to create a book that looks professionally done, and it's great fun to explore those options. Another advantage of Shutterfly is the ability to use a single site for all your photo needs, something that you don't get with companies that only produce photo books.

Just the Facts

Here's the Shutterfly blueprint:

  • Online site so no download is necessary
  • Several design methods, all allowing customization
  • A wide variety of sizes, styles, templates and fonts
  • Help available by email or phone, or by consulting the Shutterfly Community
  • Simple photo edits enabled

Shutterfly was one of the first companies to delve into the fields of online printing and photo storage. They began offering photo books in 2001, and this year they introduced the All New Custom Path, which gives users almost total control over the appearance of their photo books.

Shutterfly Pluses

Here's what I loved about Shutterfly:
  • Versatile designware that's fairly easy to use
  • >
  • Frequent discounts offered on prices that are already competitive
  • Well-designed templates with lots of choices of embellishments
  • Generously sized text boxes that allow you to say what you want to say
  • The ability to make simple photo edits, such as eliminating red eyes, within the program
  • High quality photo reproduction
  • Little touches in the final product, like those waffle-textured end papers
Users who are fairly sophisticated will love the Custom Path, with options like "full-bleed" photos and photos used as backgrounds. They will like that they are not restricted to templates but can move and resize photos and text boxes. Newbies may find the number of choices mind-boggling. They can opt for the Simple Path option or use a simpler program such as MyPublisher.

Opting for a photo book site that also offers photo storage and processing has advantages, too, as your images are easily accessible. Shutterfly also allows you to share your photo books online. Although you don't have the immediate option of emailing the book to others or posting it on your Facebook page, as you have with Picaboo, you can create your own personal website, put your photo book there and email invitations to others to view it. In the long run, that may be a better solution.

Shutterfly Minuses

Here's what didn't win my heart:

  • Shipping charges that start at $11.99 for standard shipping
  • Standard shipping that may require a week after production
  • Some image detail lost in binding
Shutterfly doesn't offer lay-flat pages as some photo book companies do. I lost a bit of some of my images in the page crease. Next time I'll pay more attention to whether vital parts of my photographs are near the page crease. As good as the book preview is, it doesn't reveal this problem.

I also had a bit of trouble getting Shutterfly to accept their own promo codes. If at first you don't succeed, try again, and be sure not to confuse the numeral "1" with a lower case "l" and a zero with an "O."

The Bottom Line on Shutterfly

The bottom line is that Shutterfly has been doing photo books for a while now, and they do a lot of things right. Some sites may be better for the technologically challenged, and some may be better for people with lots of design experience. But for the vast majority of users, who fall somewhere in between, Shutterfly is just right. Most shutterbugs will be very happy with Shutterfly.

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