Since one of our very favorite Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and teacher gifts are custom photo books, we thought it was about time to take a fresh look at our favorite custom photo book companies. There are now so many out there, it can be hard to choose one service over another.
That’s where we come in! We’ve researched and tried dozens of them, and we’ve narrowed down 13 of our absolute favorites, with a few details on what makes each one special.
So, if you’ve got a few thousand photos sitting on your laptop like we do, it might be time to pick one of our favorite custom photo book services so you can get them off your phone or computer and out where people can see them.
We may earn a small commission from purchases through affiliate links in this article, which helps support our own small business at no additional cost to you.
This post has been updated for 2021, with new prices.
We have indicated a few companies that no longer offer photo books.
Artifact Uprising makes gorgeous, keepsake albums with exquisite design and we recommend them in our gift guides all the time. In terms of artistry and archival quality, you can’t beat them. The hardcovers are bound in linen with a variety of dust jacket choices, but they also offer softcover books and even 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 photos featured here! But hey, that’s what photo editing apps are for, right?
Pinhole Press Photo Books ($14.99+)
This wonderful, family-run site is another longtime favorite of ours to recommend. They’ve grown beautifully over the years, and offer lots of unique formats for photo gifts, like cool spiral binding, an accordion-style brag book, or photo tile games. Of course they also have classic soft and hard-cover photo books, all with exquisite attention to details like paper and printing.
The landscape lay-flat photo book with cloth binding above, starts at $69.99 for 20 pages, with a choice of ten different colors.
Blurb Photo Books ($14.99+)
The photo books at Blurb are super popular and for great reason — the quality is just spectacular, with some of the most customizable options I’ve seen anywhere on the web. In fact, they have options for book and magazine publishers too, which makes it a bit more than a quick-and-easy, drop-and-go photo book generator.
You can even create books to sell through their site, and their ideas are endless, from cookbooks with old family recipes to cute alphabet books starring your very own kids.
Impressed Photo Books App (Update: no longer in existence)
The most unique feature of an Impressed photo book (also shown at very top) is the fact that you can add voice to your photo book (yes, the actual book!). It may sound a little gimmicky, but we’ve found it can actually make the photo 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 tablet or phone, since you don’t always carry your photo book around with you, but are always ready to brag.
Shutterfly Photo Books ($14+)
Shutterfly was one of the very first services to offer custom photo books and is still a strong option in our opinion. Especially for the price. And now they’ve launched a service called Make My Book, where you send them all your photos and they personally design it for you. It’s free to get started, but if you order the book they’ll tack on a $9.99 design fee, though NBD for the great work they’ll do.
Since their prices are low to start with and they regularly offer big discounts, this is a great way to order books if you’re a few years behind on getting it done.
Snapfish Photo Books ($12.99+)
If you’ve tried scrapbooking and it just isn’t for you, Snapfish (and Shutterfly, above) are probably your best alternatives. Their books have options for hundreds of 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. Plus, with low prices and frequent discount codes, these books can be a huge bargain.
Artkive Photo Books App ($25+)
The Artkive App has become our go-to way to digitally preserve our kids’ 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 rest for you.
They’ve recently moved to a membership format, where you pay a low fee (starting at just $3/month) for them to store your kids’ artwork…but that fee also gives you discounts and credits toward books. There’s also a concierge service, where you can send your child’s actual artwork to them and they’ll scan and store it digitally for you. But personally, I think taking the photos and tagging them in the app is so easy that’s not really necessary, unless you truly have no time to keep up with it.
StoryJumper Photo Books ($12.99 and up)
This cool service allows you to add your child’s photos to an illustrated template, so they become the star of their very own story. You can write your own text (or use their suggested copy, if you’ve got a bad case of writer’s block) to add your child to the narrative.
We’ve seen a lot of companies willing to make similar products for you — at a fairly steep price tag for a kids’ book — but I love the innovation of this affordable DIY version. Paperback copies start at about $12.99, hardcover at $24.99, and they’ll even give you a black-and-white printable version for free.
Of course, this is a really fun option, though not your typical keepsake photo album. But we wanted to include it here because wow, our kids would love it.
Mosaic books by Mixbook are gorgeous archival photo books on thick paper with cool cut-out covers. They feel expensive, so they make great gifts. That said, your options are limited: they come in one size — 7 x 7 hardcover — and you can only add 20 pictures to the book. So, maybe make one of these when you’re feeling decisive.
That said, you can upgrade to their Montage version, which allows you more sizes and options for photos.
Minted Photo Books (prices vary)
While photo books from Minted, a long-time favorite of ours, 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 card mini-booklets that are basically mini photo books to send to everyone you love at the holidays. They’re splurgy for cards, starting around $3.50 each, but a downright steal for a small photo book to keep in your bag.
Tweed Wolf Photo Book (Update: This service is no longer available)
For the parent who simply has no time to spend on creating photo books (and, uh, plenty of disposable income to spend on them), look to Tweed Wolf. This service culls through thousands of your personal photos to choose the very best, then organizes them into a custom book for you.
You’ll get a few rounds of feedback to get the book just the way you want it, then they’ll send you a hardcover, linen-bound book with thick, archival paper that’s truly a forever keepsake.
This isn’t cheap, but if time equals money for you, it just might be worth it.
Snapbox (Update: Snapbox no longer offers photo books)
The gorgeous photo board books from Snapbox are a breeze to make, primarily because there are almost no customizable options. If you want basic, basic, basic…but beautiful, then this is the option for you. You can edit the photos and the color of the text on the spine, but that’s it.
However, these lay-flat books printed on silver halide paper (known for its vibrant color) are lovely gifts at an affordable price point. Note: Right now, if you give them your email when you log in, you’ll get 25% off your first order — not bad!
Chatbooks Photo Books ($8+)
You may have first heard of Chatbooks when they put out a hilarious viral Facebook ad featuring a mom in the bubble bath. This service is smart — you start an album in the app, and once you hit 60 photos, it sends you a book. They’re cheap enough you don’t have to worry about just including the best of your best pictures.
You can auto-populate books straight from your Instagram or Facebook feed, and filter by hashtag too. Or, you can add photos to a collection as you go. And don’t miss their albums designed by some of our favorite design bloggers, from Oh Joy to The House that Lars Built and Seb Lester.
As a busy mom with a sentimental side that loves looking through my family’s photos, this is the app I’m sticking with for quick, cheap, beautiful photo books.