Photo Book Showdown

Well, the time has come.

The time to take the 2,223 pictures I took (yup, no joke) during my semester in New Zealand and turn them from a giant space-sucker on my computer into something that will allow me to actually enjoy them.

As much as I love taking pictures (as the however-many gigs on my hard drive and the giant Tupperware of prints under my bed can attest), I’m not that great at doing anything useful with them.  I’ve always had very ambitious goals of scrapbooking/photo album-ing my whole life… but you can probably guess how many of those I’ve actually made…


Three!  You were going to guess zero, weren’t you?  Come on, give me a little credit… anyway, I have made a pretty cool scrapbook (yes, they’re very quaint) for each of the major travels I’ve taken: Panama, France, and Australia.  It worked out pretty perfectly for these trips: each was 2-3 weeks long and left me with 500 photos max (and I definitely didn’t print and include all of them).

france 476

That puffy pink coat with fake fur trim was a great choice, 16-year-old Julie.

When it came to doing something with my New Zealand pictures, this formula obviously wasn’t going to work.  Five months in the most incredible country on Earth simply left me with wayyy too many photos, even considering the number that wouldn’t make the final cut.  I know there are plenty of modern ways to enjoy your photos in their digital state (e-albums, slideshows, etc.), but I guess I’m old-fashioned in that I want something big and glossy and coffee-table-worthy that I can flip through at my leisure while wearing a smoking jacket and sitting in a leather recliner.

One possibility was to break down my trip into manageable segments that could each be their own scrapbook: life in Christchurch, South Island roadtrip, North Island roadtrip, uni & friends, etc… but that would be more than even my sturdy little coffee table could handle.  Plus, that many paving stone sized scrapbooks wouldn’t really accomplish the goal of concisely and effectively displaying all my photos.

Just when I thought all was lost, I found out about these nifty photo book things.  You can create them online, have them printed and bound, and shipped right to your door.  Actually, I should have thought of this earlier, since my brother and I created one for our parents last Christmas, but the number of photos we used for that project was so much smaller than what I’m dealing with for NZ that it didn’t cross my mind as a similar undertaking.

Anyway, I really got the idea again from this post on Young House Love.  Ooh those are some swanky looking photo books, eh?  They seemed to have a lot of pros for making a photo book through MyPublisher, like they did, including:

  • A 600-photo, 100-page book that ended up being about half an inch thick
  • Really high quality printing
  • Frequent promotions to bring down the price
  • Lots of creative control over the layout of your book

So after that vote of confidence from my BFFs John and Sherry (nope, false, I’m just a creep), I was pretty much going banana sandwich at the thought of having a b-e-a-utiful shiny New Zealand photo book through MyPublisher in my arms to hug and hold in just a couple of weeks.  But then I figured it would be good to look around and just make sure this was the best option, and I found out about Blurb.

For comparison’s sake, or if you’re in the market for a sweet as photo book of your own, here are the sites for MyPublisher and Blurb (side note: is it bad that I got completely sidetracked by the picture of the Royal Wedding photo book on the MyPublisher website and considered ditching my whole project and just buying that one?  I can’t help it.  They’re just so gosh darn classy.)

Anyway, there were definitely some clear pros to Blurb as opposed to MP:

  • More options for size and shape of book
  • No 100-page limit
  • Less expensive overall

I know, that makes it sound like no contest.  But here are the main reasons I’m still hung up on using MP: 1) they sent me a coupon for 50% off my first book, which pretty much negates the price difference between the two websites, 2) a bit of Google searching turned up the conclusion that MP print quality is better than Blurb, and 3) MyPublisher is the YHL-approved option.

What to do, what to do?  I found this very thorough review and comparison of these two and other photo book websites, but unfortunately, it’s a year and half old, with only a few updates… so I’m not sure I should make my whole decision based on that.

So, any words of wisdom?  Have any of you actually made photo books through either of these sites (or other ones) and ended up with any conclusive evidence to share?  Or can you make better sense than I can of the reviews that are out there?  Any and all advice is appreciated.  This is definitely something I’m willing to spend money on, especially considering that printing hundreds of digital photos and purchasing materials to make my own scrapbook would cost far more than either photo book option, but I only want to do it once and I want to be really happy with the result… after all, these pictures are the highlight of my life thus far.


I realize that the pictures in this blog post give the impression that I primarily hang out on snowy mountains… which is ironic, since I live at the beach.

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4 thoughts on “Photo Book Showdown

  1. Those are awesome! I want to do one! I’ve never made an album for any of my photos…panama, AMA, germany…they’re all homeless. 🙁

  2. Hi Julie, I happened across this old post – I wonder if you went forward with printing your photo book? I do have a lot of more recent reviews of photo books and I also update photo book deals on my site. Both MyPublisher and Blurb produce great photo books. I think MyPublisher’s are a little better print quality wise however, but I’ve made several books with both companies. Both have frequent deals so it’s good to check on those before making a final decision. 50% + deals are not uncommon with MyPublisher. In fact I have a 70% off deal going right now! Best! Photo Book Girl

    1. Hi! I’m so glad you found this – you know, I never did actually make my NZ photo book! I started with MyPublisher but just had the most terrible time with the software. It was slow beyond belief and kept freezing. It’s been a while so I should probably give it another go. Your reviews are really helpful so I’ll definitely check out the updates. Beautiful photos btw, I loved seeing the places you visited and I remember them so well! Manly Beach, Akaroa, Mirror Lake… it’s making me nostalgic! 🙂

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