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Best Photo Books Online: Lulu vs Blurb vs Artifact Uprising vs Shutterfly & More!

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Artifact Uprising logo
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Shutterfly logo
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Blurb logo

Remember the days of going to One Hour Photo and dropping off your roll of 12, 24 or 36 photos to get developed? Oh, the excitement and anticipation of waiting to see how your shots turned out. Now that we live in a digital world, photography is instantaneous, and there is no limit to the number of photos you can take. However, we can still preserve our memories in a similar fashion to how we did in the past by turning them into keepsake books that you’ll look at for years to come. Read on to learn more about the various printing services to create photo books online, including the pros, cons and pricing for each.

Best Sites for Printing Photo Books Online

There are a number of companies that offer online photo book printing. They range in price and features but pretty much all offer similar products and services. However, we feel there are three that deserve the top spots for the best overall. (One note about the pricing in this category – it changes frequently and there are usually special offers and discount codes, so make sure you check out our coupon sections on this page and click on our links for the most up to date prices and promos before purchasing).

Artifact Uprising Review

#1

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Founded by a team of two sisters and a husband in 2012, Artifact Uprising is a mission-driven company that is a great pick for artists, graphic designers or anyone who is looking for a simple, no-frills service with an impressive high-quality product. Although Artifact Uprising has a little higher price point and it doesn’t offer fancy templates, they are our overall winner because the photo books are by far the most beautiful and the best quality. The platform is very simple to use and gives you a professional and priceless book that you will treasure for years to come.

Pros

Cons

  • Printed locally in Denver, Colorado
  • Made from 100% post consumer recycled paper
  • Online book builder or iPhone app
  • Import photos from Instagram or your computer
  • Offers square, vertical or horizontal book layouts
  • The hardcover books are canvas, giving a real high-end feel and making for a great coffee table book
  • Customer service is staffed by employees who are very responsive and helpful
  • Sells other products like calendars, prints and postcards, all made with the same high-quality and finish
  • While they don’t have any fancy templates, they do offer beautiful page layouts to nicely crop photos and add text
  • Distribution is not an option
  • Relatively new player to the online book publishing game, but they have quickly built a reputation and following in the design and photography community

Pricing

  • Starts at $16 for Softcover (40 page minimum); Hardback starts at $69 (50 Page minimum)
  • Additional Pages: $0.25-$1.00/page (depending on format/size)
  • Turnaround Time: 8 days for production + shipping
  • Volume Discount: 20% off for 10+ books

Coupon

Artifact Uprising often has time sensitive coupons, find and share them here!

Read our In-Depth Artifact Uprising Review

Shutterfly Review

#2

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Shutterfly is another popular photo sharing service which offers a variety of additional photo printing services and products including photo books. Shutterfly offers a wide selection of templates, customizations and book creation options in addition to competitive pricing and has been a major player in the photo printing world since 1999. If you want to create books on the go, you can use their Photo Story iPad app which even has the ability to draw using touch screen doodling.

Pros

Cons

  • Good Housekeeping’s Seal of Approval as best website for photo books
  • Printed in the U.S.
  • Good customer service including phone, email and live chat support
  • Free unlimited photo storage
  • Import photos from Instagram, Facebook or other photo services
  • Select from a wide range of cover options including linen, canvas, dust jackets, lay-flat options and leather covers
  • Reasonably priced for the quality
  • Variety of stylish, modern templates
  • “Photo Story” iPad app and Shutterfly app
  • 100% money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied
  • Many users complain about lack of good customer service with long hold times
  • Shipping prices are expensive (even for smaller items)
  • Reports of shipping not arriving on time, even with guaranteed delivery date

Pricing

  • Starting at $19.99 for a Hardcover 8×8″ book (20 pages)
  • Turnaround Time: Economy/Standard is 6-10 days (includes shipping); also offers rush service
  • Discounts: Offers a variety of seasonal discounts, promotions and exclusive offers throughout the year

Coupon

Shutterfly often has time sensitive coupons, find and share them here!

Read our in-depth Shutterfly Review

Blurb Review

#3

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Founded in 2005, Blurb is a book printing service and then some, offering many extra distribution features. Blurb is great for both personal use and aspiring authors alike who want to create books, ebooks, notebooks, trade books or magazines for personal use or for sharing with a larger audience. They have an online editor, or you can use their Blurb BookWright™ or Blurb BookSmart® software that downloads to your computer to create books from your desktop without the internet. They also integrate with InDesign and Lightroom to easily upload your publications and photos (no other photo book services offered this feature).

Pros

Cons

  • Blurb BookWright™ or Blurb BookSmart® software
  • Affordable pricing and bulk printing options
  • Use online editor or mobile app to create books
  • Adobe InDesign® Plug-in or integrate with Adobe Lightroom®
  • Instant photo book feature to connect with Facebook or Instagram
  • Offers a number of self-publishing options (to sell your book to others, including Amazon)
  • Support center includes online training documents, webinars and video tutorials
  • Browse the bookstore or get ideas in its inspiration center
  • Only offers book publishing (no other photo gifts)
  • More advanced software requires more training and/or experience

Pricing

  • Softcover starts at $14.99 (for 20 pages) and Hardcover starts at $28.99 (for 20 pages)
  • Additional Pages: $0.20-$0.45 per page depending on size
  • Turnaround Time: 4-5 days for production + shipping
  • Volume Discount: 15-25% off for 20+ books

Coupon

Blurb often has time sensitive coupons, find and share them here!

Read our In-Depth Review of Blurb

12 Ways to Supercharge Your Photo Album

Now that you’ve read about our top 3 picks for best photo book, how about some ideas for actually using these services to spice up your photo album? Check out our companion article for 12 ways to supercharge your photo album.

Other Photo Book Companies

Here are a few other popular photo book companies we reviewed:

Lulu | Mpix | PastBook | PhotoBucket | Picaboo | Snapfish

LuLu Review

LuLu logo

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Lulu is more than just a book printing company. It is a community of writers and designers looking to sell their work to a larger audience. This company has published more than one million books since 2002, helping to create and shape the self-publishing industry. Overall, Lulu is a nice option for those who are looking to print large quantities and those who wish to sell their printed and digital books via third-party retailers or on their own website or browse and purchase others’ self-published books.

Pros

Cons

  • Print-on-demand service is highly efficient and eco-friendly (only print what you need)
  • By far the most affordable of the book publishing services
  • Offers a variety of formats, paper finishes and binding options
  • More flexibility than the other services
  • The low price-point is ideal for bulk printing
  • Free ISBN barcode on books to sell at other retailers
  • Forums to learn or hire a pro to help if you are short on time
  • While the price point is low, depending on the type of book you print, the quality is slightly lower than some other sites
  • Less user-friendly website and user experience

Pricing

  • Black and white Paperbacks starting at $1.72 (for 48 pages) and $13.13 for black and white Premium Hardcover (for 24 pages)
  • Turnaround Time: 3-8 days (includes shipping). Download e-books instantly
  • Additional Pages: Varies
  • Volume Discount: 3-20% off for 15+ books

Mpix Review

mpix logoVisit Website

Mpix was founded in 2003 in Pittsburg, Kansas by Miller Professional Imaging, a local, family photography business. Although a lesser known company, their nimble team works hard to compete, produce and quickly print and ship its products. Being a bit smaller company also gives them the advantage of having a leg up on the bigger names when it comes to customer service. And because they are photographers themselves, they strive to have the best quality papers, colors and processes so you can trust your photos will turn out looking great.

Pros

Cons

  • Handmade in the Midwest
  • One day turnaround for most products
  • Variety of book size, paper quality and cover options
  • Mpix tap to print app
  • Individualized customer service
  • Drag and drop photos into pre-made designs (or create your own DIY)
  • Offer boutique gift packaging and foil stamps
  • Not as many discount codes or special offers as bigger competitors
  • No e-publishing or ability to sell books online
  • Must sign up for an account to start creating your book

Pricing

  • Softcover and Economy books start at $19.99
  • Turnaround Time: 1 day (excludes shipping).
  • Additional Pages: .50 each

PastBook Review

Pastbook logo

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PastBook is different from other photo books in that it specializes in auto-creating books of your past. With one click of a “connect” button you can have a yearbook made within seconds. By syncing to your Facebook or Instagram account it automatically puts your uploaded/shared photos in chronological order along with the existing photo captions. You can also invite friends or relatives to contribute and add their own favorite moments (or upload your own photos directly).

Pros

Cons

  • Invite others to collaborate
  • Create archives of years to view online later
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee
  • Facebook and Instagram app to create books via mobile device
  • No square book size option (only horizontal layout)
  • Only one paper type (premium matte paper)
  • No custom design options
  • No phone or chat support (email only)

Pricing

  • Softcover starts at $30 for small (8.5×6″) and starts at $45 for big hardcover (12×8″) both for 26 pages. Price includes taxes.
  • Turn Around Time: 7-10 Days
  • Shipping is flat $5.00 and they claim to ship to anywhere in the world
  • Additional pages: go up to 50, 100, 200, 300 or 500 pages for set price (not pay per page like other companies)
  • Get extra copies printed for friends and family for a 35% discount at checkout

Photobucket Review

Photobucket logoVisit Website

Photobucket is an online photo album service that’s been around since 2003. They allow you to upload your photos into galleries and then order various printed goods including greeting cards and photo books. They offer a photo app for iPhone and Android that is capable of uploading, sharing, editing and retouching photos. You can even design and order a photo book using the app and pick it up the same day at your local drug store in as quickly as an hour. Photobucket makes it easy and quick to create books for yourself since it can easily import your images from Facebook and Instagram or use your existing Photobucket account. The books are clean, minimalist and high-quality, but they lack some of the bells and whistles when it comes to customizing your paper types, adding design embellishments, etc.

Pros

Cons

  • Beautiful, high-quality matte finish books
  • Same day print service via their app
  • Easy to upload, layout and design with just a few clicks
  • Integrates with Facebook and Instagram for easy importing
  • Don’t need an account to start creating a photo book
  • Often run promotions for discounts on products including free shipping
  • If there is an error on their part (damage, order not received), they will refund or replace (shipping costs are non-refundable)
  • More limited in design/layout options than other sites
  • No phone or chat support
  • Website is a bit busy to navigate with photo books only being one small part of their service offering
  • Only 3 photo book options (hard, soft or lay flat)

Pricing

  • Soft Cover photo books start at $11.99 (for 20 pages) up to $21.50 for larger, lay flat Hardcover (20 pages)
  • Turnaround Time: 3 days (plus shipping) or same day (via the app).
  • Additional Pages: Varies

Picaboo Review

Picaboo logo Visit Website

Based in Redwood City, California, Picaboo was founded in 2002 by two friends and college classmates. The first book was printed in 2005, and since the company has printed more than 2 million photo books. The clean, easy to navigate website has no frills and is very straight-forward. They also offer Yearbook software which gives schools the ability to collaborate on custom yearbooks that come with their own storefront to sell books on demand with a relatively short 3-week turnaround.

Pros

Cons

  • Come in a variety of sizes and formats including a sturdy glossy laminated hardcover or glossy laminated Softcover (cardstock)
  • Photos printed on heavy-weight glossy, acid-free, archival quality paper
  • Import photos from a variety of sources including Facebook
  • Print custom photo tablet and smartphone cases
  • Video tutorials and support center
  • Fundraising program to help support local charities and organizations
  • 100% satisfaction guarantee
  • Fewer book cover options than other services (no coil bound, dust jackets)
  • Higher price point (price per page more than other services)

Pricing

  • Starting at $19.99 for softcover 8×6″ book (20 pages) and lay-flat hardcover books start at $64.99 for 8×8″ book (20 pages)
  • Additional Pages: $0.50-$1.50 per page
  • Turnaround Time: 3-10 days for production plus shipping (overnight available)
  • Discounts: Varies

Snapfish Review

Snapfish logoVisit Website

Snapfish is a popular photo printing service that prints your photos on everything from photo books to a variety of decor and gifts like mugs, shirts and more. It’s quick and easy to make photo books in a snap using Snapfish. Now a part of the HP family of products, your photo books are printed and delivered using high-quality gloss or matte finishes with a variety of designs and sizes to choose from. They offer plenty of design and layout options to make it customized and a variety of sizes and book types.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy drag and drop editor
  • Import photos from Facebook, Flickr or Snapfish
  • Variety of pre-designed themes or use their Freestyler service to create your own
  • Competitive pricing
  • Same-day pick up of select products at your local Walgreens or Walmart
  • Reasonably priced for the quality
  • Select from a wide-range of cover options
  • 25-minute courtesy window from the time of purchase for last-minute changes
  • 100% money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied
  • Large company (partner of HP) with less individualized service support; however, they do offer a live chat via virtual agent.
  • Snapfish logo printed on select products.

Pricing

  • Softcover 5×7″ starts at $12.99 (for 20 pages) and hardcover 8×8″ starts at $28.99 (for 20 pages)
  • Additional Pages: $0.99 -$2.99 per page depending on size
  • Turnaround Time: 1-5 days for processing + shipping
  • Discounts: Offers a variety of seasonal discounts, promotions and special offers throughout the year

Video: How to Create a PhotoBook

Watch how easily and quickly you can create a photo book on Snapfish in five simple steps.

Photography Tips

Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy DSLR Camera or any photography experience. The great thing about the digital age is that most iPhones or smartphones take spectacular photos that are suitable for printing. If taking your own photos is not your thing, think about using some stock photography for your books. One of our very own writers, Kimberly, offered her own photography advice and must-have tool for great picture taking in a blog post on Bigstock. You too can shoot like a pro but first, time to start collecting your memories into a book to share with your family and friends!

Good luck and happy memory book making!

What photo sharing service do you use when printing albums?

As a new homeowner Sadie understands the importance of keeping her property, and all that’s in it, a top priority. Through apps like the Nest thermostat and Nest Protect she can keep an eye on things and control the temp via her smart phone why she’s away. She believes in being proactive in life and using technology to keep you safe. She enjoys decorating on a budget, small DIY improvement projects and all things HGTV.

Leave a Reply

21 Comments on "Best Photo Books Online: Lulu vs Blurb vs Artifact Uprising vs Shutterfly & More!"

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Kata M
Kata M
I used Mpix for a book to put together highlights from a recent trip to show friends and family and the turn around time is crazy fast! I got the book within 3 days of placing the order. And they are super affordable too for the quality. Plus I prefer the matte look and canvas cover (versus glossy and photo cover).
Edie
Edie
Have you been able to look at MILK albums in comparison to Artifact Uprising?
Bekah
Bekah
Which company would you recommend for making a professional high-end looking wedding album?
Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt
We would recommend Artifact Uprising for a wedding album. They have many styles to choose from and they look beautiful.
Dinah Carolipio
Dinah Carolipio
Hello. Thank you for this overview review. My child has an autobiography assignment that needs to be formatted into book form. I was going to try Shutterfly but have heard it is not friendly to text-heavy pages. I thought to give Lulu a try based on your review, but sounds like it is best for when you have to make multiple copies. I’d like to use something that will be easy to use for text-heavy pages but will print pictures beautifully. 🙂 Some nice backgrounds or embellishing options would be cute too. Oh and of course all for a reasonable price. Too much to ask for? Thanks for the advice.
Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt
I have personally used Shutterfly and have had pages in books with lots of text and I thought it turned out great. We haven’t heard reports of Shutterfly being unfriendly toward text-heavy pages, so I think it’d work out for your child’s assignment.
Maureen Frank
Maureen Frank
Pardon a silly question, new to self publishing. when you state “20 pages”, does that mean 20 sheets of paper or 10 sheets (counting each side as a page)?
Kelly
Kelly
I’ve used Blurb and Artifact Uprising. Blurb is good for photo books but takes more time. Artifact is amazing for Instagram based books. Since I post my best kid photos on Instagram, making yearly books takes about 15 minutes on my iPhone. The smaller format books are great for grandparents to carry in a purse or such as brag books. Great print quality.
Berruiser
Berruiser
I am kicking myself because I lost the link to a photo book layout I liked. Does anyone know the company that produces a lay-flat hard cover book with a layout that opens from the center out? I think it had 2 spines, both on the outside. Anyone know about this layout presentation?
Susan Lea
Susan Lea
I’m reading reviews of Blurb after a disastrous experience with Blurb BookSmart creating a book of family history stories and photos. I’m waiting to receive it now and crossing my fingers that BS (excuse the fitting abbreviation!) didn’t change it AGAIN after I saved and uploaded it! I’ve made numerous books with BookSmart, although I prefer Shutterfly by far for photo books. I’ve never had the problems I had this time, and I suspect that now that Blurb has come out with BookWright, they’re failing to update BS to work with newer operating systems. My desktop got a new hard drive that automatically upgraded to El Capitan, and BS was absolutely unusable on it. I imported a back-up into my laptop, which is still using Yosemite, and I finally managed to get the book done with such horrible problems that I nearly threw the computer out the window. BS would insert extra blank lines, remove lines of text, move entire paragraphs, shift photos up to cut off heads, crash and crash and crash repeatedly. What caused the most crashes was trying to edit text, so I’ve learned that the only possible way to use Blurb in the future is to create and edit the text in Word, copy and paste to BS, and then LEAVE IT ALONE! However, after looking at your reviews, I think I might try Lulu, since the second book will also be a family history book. I really can’t recommend BS (BookSmart) to anyone, anymore!
pamelalevene
pamelalevene
Advice please.

I have kept a holiday journal which means lots of text interspersed with lots of high resolution photos. I sent it through daily emails to friends and family. They suggest I print it out in book form.

I pretty much want to keep the layout as it was in the emails. The photos were inserted into the text, not sent as attachments, as they are an integral part of the story.

Which photo book do you think would be the easiest / most appropriate to choose?

I like the idea of being able to sell the finished product as well as having my own personal copies printed.

Thanks!

lechels
lechels
I went with Blurb for a travel photo book because I could not reorganize pages in AU. This was a big problem in laying out a 100 page photo album.
Lotte
Lotte
Hello, I wanted to share my experiences with Blurb and Artifact Uprising. Just got my new squared book in from AU and unfortunately I am a bit disappointed. The paper quality is not what you want for your best photos to be printed on. I don’t like it being kinda see-through. The small and medium format prints (not page filling) of photos (I used 1000px) aren’t printed that great as well. But what I do like is the filled pages (I used high resolution photos for these), the linen cover and the matt dust jacket. And I think the book would be better if you’d go for no less than 100 pages.

Blurb on the other hand is maybe more convenient for me, because I can use Lightroom for making a book. You can also choose the paper quality you want. I don’t like the glossy dust jacket and image wrap though.

JeanLuc
JeanLuc
Thanks for the great article.
I would not recommend Blurb. Their design software is appalling and after a succession of poor service (pages repeating, running images, etc.) I finally gave up and moved on.
Artifact Uprising looks promising and so does Lulu.
Miriam
Miriam
I use MILK Books. Elegant page templates, beautiful linen bound hard cover photo books and albums, quality art paper, excellent customer service. I have tried a few companies now, and I won’t print anywhere else after finding MILK!
Kimberly Alt
Admin
Kimberly Alt
Thanks Miriam! We will check them out and consider adding them to this article in our next update!
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