A comparison of our 11 favorite custom photo book services, for one of our all-time favorite gifts.

artifact uprising softcover photo books | cool mom picks

This is that time of year when I start thinking about putting together a photo book with all my pictures from the year, but I usually get hung up on wanting one that will actually last until my kids are adults, so they can enjoy them for years to come. There are so many options out there, I know! So to help you wade through them all, we’ve put together this round-up of 11 terrific options, and what makes each one so special.

 

Blurb photo books | Cool Mom Picks

Blurb Photo Books
The photo books at Blurb are super popular and for great reason—the quality is just spectacular, with some of the most customizable I’ve seen anywhere on the web. In fact, this feels more like a self-publishing website than a quick-and-easy drop-and-go photo book generator. On Blurb, you can create books to sell through their site as well, and their ideas are endless—from cookbooks with old family recipes to these cute alphabet books starring your own kids. Prices start at $12.99.

Artifact Uprising

Artifact Uprising
Artifact Uprising makes some of the most beautiful photo books I have ever seen. (Including the photo at the very top.) In terms of artistry and archival quality, you can’t beat them. And they’ve recently launched an iOS app to make creating their books even easier. The hardcovers are bound in linen with a variety of dust jacket choices, and they also offer softcover books and an Instagram-friendly book. The downside? I don’t have a professional photographer following my family around all the time making us look as gorgeous as the featured photos here. Small sizes start at $69 for 50 pages, and larger books max out at $189 for 200 pages. Definitely an investment, but one worth making for a serious keepsake gift.

Photo books by Pinhole Press | Cool Mom PicksPinhole Press
This site is known for really gorgeous formats and exquisite attention to detail like paper and printing. They have some unique formats for photo books, including a spiral-bound board book that would make an especially great gift for the toddler who loves to keep familiar faces nearby. They also have gorgeous lay-flat photo books, spiral bound photo books, and accordion-style brag books. Their modern, simple style and exquisite attention to detail doesn’t come cheap, though: their softcover books with 68 pictures (shown above) start at $45. There were some challenges with this site when they first launched in terms of shippping dates but that seems to be resolved.  Still, confirm your delivery date to make your deadlines.

 

Photo booklets by Kindred Prints | Cool Mom Picks

Kindred Prints
If you’re the type who’d rather make a new booklet of pictures more frequently rather than one huge one at the end of the year, check out this subscription service we recently discovered. What makes them different is their format (6″ x 6″ booklets only) and their pricing ($5/month subscription, plus $5 per book). These books are super-easy to make. In fact, I made one from start to finish while sitting in the carpool line. Don’t you love multi-tasking?

Impressed photo books | Cool Mom Picks

Impressed
I have to admit, I’m impressed with this new-to-us service of the same name. You build these books using their iOS app, but the most unique feature here is the fact that you can add voice to your photo book (yes, the actual book), which sounds a little gimmicky but can make the book extra special, especially to preserve those sweet little baby and kid voices. Every physical book also comes with a QR code so you can view a digital copy on your tablets or phones, since you don’t always carry your photo book around with you but may still want to brag. A 6″ x 8″ hardcover starts around $29.

Shutterfly photo books | Cool Mom Picks

Shutterfly
With a background in basic digital photo printing, sharing and storage, Shutterfly was one of the first services to offer custom photo books and is still a strong option. Especially for the price. And especially now that they’ve partnered with Tiny Prints to create some books with the more modern aesthetic Tiny Prints is known for. They’ve recently launched a new app called Photo Story that allows you to create photo books on your iPad (real ones you can hold), but you can also instantly share the digital version with audio voiceovers. Prices start at $14.99, but they frequently offer discounts.

 

Snapfish photo books | Cool Mom Picks

Snapfish

If you’ve tried scrapbooking and it just isn’t for you, Snapfish (and Shutterfly, above) are probably your best alternatives. Their books are heavily designed, and Snapfish has recently introduced “embellishments,” which are fancy clip art designed by the likes of Martha Stewart and Sirron Norris, to give the books a more personal (and more scrapbook-y) feel. The quality isn’t quite what you’d get from Artifact Uprising, Blurb, or Pinhole Press, but you may not need that. Snapfish offers multiple sizes and starts around $12. Be sure to check for specials, which are frequent and can be quite attractive.

Artkive books | Cool Mom Picks

Artkive books 
The Artkive App  has become our go-to way to digital preserve your child’s artwork—our editor Liz swears up and down by them.  The app allows you to take a picture of your child’s masterpiece, catalog it, and then you simply select the pictures you want to include in a custom photo book of art; Artkive does the work for you. They even personally review each order to make sure it looks perfect before printing. The books start at $25.

 

My Publisher photo books | Cool Mom Picks

My Publisher 
What I love about photo books from My Publisher is that the book is created via a software program you download for free onto your computer. Anytime I upload new pictures to my laptop, I quickly click on My Publisher (which imports my last upload), drop my favorites into the next few pages of my photo book, and save it until I’m ready to upload more pictures. Then, at the end of the year, my book is ready and I don’t have to sift through 3,578 pictures all at once. Books are nice, keepsake quality and start at $29.99. But you can add-on all kinds of customizations, like a leather cover, glossy interior, and more. And a tip—get on their mailing list, they send out discount codes all. the. time.

 

Mosaic photo albums | Cool Mom Picks

Mosaic
If you want to make a photo book from your Instagram photos, then the ones from Mosaic are a gorgeous option, with the cut-out front cover and packaging to match. These books are very archival and feel expensive, so they make great gifts. That said, your options here are limited. They come in one size—7 x 7 hardcover—and you can only add 20 pictures to the book, so make one of these when you’re feeling decisive. Still, the result is lovely for just $20 each. But you do need their iOS app [edited to add: or Android app] since it pulls pictures right from your Instagram account.

 

Minted photo notebooks and booklets | Cool Mom PicksMinted Photo Books

While these photo books from Minted, a long-time favorite of ours (and recent advertiser), aren’t what you’d traditionally expect, I absolutely adore their blank journals with photo covers. I’m all for going digital, but I still use an old-fashioned blank journal whenever I take notes at school meetings, parenting lectures, you name it. Minted also has amazing 7-page Christmas card booklets that are basically mini photo-books to send to everyone you love at the holidays. They’re splurgy though, starting around $3.50 a card, with a minimum order of 15. Perfect for the more curated list of close friends and family; maybe not for your postal carrier.

Kate

Kate Etue divides her time between the book industry, checking out the newest tech trends for kids, and indulging in craft foods in a cool suburb of Nashville.

10 Comments

  • Reply December 4, 2013

    pia

    One that I love for gift giving, especially for the grandparents, is the mpix accordion minis. Great for me too, since I’m not good about carrying around recent photos of the elves and am always flipping through my phone for a recent one if someone asks.

  • Reply December 5, 2013

    Jill

    Thanks for this great roundup–photo books are an absolute favorite gift of mine. I know it’s obvious, but I’m surprised you didn’t mention Apple photo books. Since I store all my photos in iPhoto, it’s always been the easiest way for me to make books and I think the layouts are easy to use, clean and elegant, with enough variety but not overwhelming options. They’re reliable and good quality. (and no, I don’t work for Apple!) I have used Blurb in the past for books where I needed more variety and options, and control, but Apple is easier I think. Just curious to know how these other options compare–if it’s worth getting myself out of my comfort zone!

  • Reply February 1, 2014

    Sarah

    I love these ideas! I’m always looking for more affordable photo books for everyday memories. :) Which company produced the white books at the top of your post? I love the look of those!

    —-
    Glad you like them Sarah! The top photo is from Artifact Uprising. Terrific company. -Eds

  • Reply February 24, 2014

    Bella

    Love the comprehensive list. Lots of good ideas.
    Also, I just read your review for Booksto.me. A friend already has his first book from them and is enjoying the heck out of it. (His gf and his hobbies fill the pages) Love this idea. So, I just subscribed to it and can’t wait to get a photo book every month from now on without me doing another thing. Thanks for pointing me to it.

  • This is great! I’ve only used MyPublisher and PhotoBook America and these look way better!

  • Reply May 12, 2014

    Sue

    This is an amazing comprehensive list of photo book publishing sites. Thank you so much for sharing!

    I have lots of mom-friends that have mentioned that they just don’t have the time to do through all their photos and make a book. It can become a full-time job which is hard when managing everything else. I have a 4 year old and 10 year old myself.

    All those digital files with no where to go except the “cloud” made me want to start my biz, Pixobook, where I gather all the photos from any event (or non-event) and curate, retouch, and publish them for time-poor people.

    I, of course, find myself making my families books at odd hours because I can’t stand the thought of losing an archive of some of my most memorable moments into a broken computer or a obsolete piece of digital media.

  • Reply June 16, 2014

    Dot Paolo

    Really Great list but how do you choose? I need to start somewhere and I am not sure where to start. I have an art gallery and I want to publish book for my artists. Which one would you choose first to make and sell.

  • Reply July 22, 2014

    Lauren

    thanks for the reviews! have you noticed if Blurb offers lay flat pages yet? Or do you just go with the regular. It has been a few years since I ordered from them but was impressed back then!

  • Reply August 23, 2014

    suman

    We offers Web Designing, Web Development, SEO, Internet Marketing, Web in Delhi.

  • Reply September 5, 2014

    joanna

    could you please let me know who made the books in the first photo of the post? (the one with iPhone) Thanks!

    —-

    That’s Artifact Uprising, Joanna. Have fun with it! -Eds

Reader Comments