Since custom photo books are among our very favorite gifts for the holidays, for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and even for teacher gifts and gifts for favorite sitters, we’ve put together a helpful comparison of our top picks.

For years, we’ve compared our favorite custom photo book companies –there are now so many out there, it can be hard to choose one service over another. Especially because they’re all a little different.

That’s where we come in! We’ve researched and tried dozens of custom photo books for comparison sake over the years, and we’ve narrowed down the list to our absolute favorites, with a few details on what makes each one special.

This post has been updated for 2021

So, if you’ve got a few thousand photos sitting on your phones or laptop albums like we do, pick a date to take care of that — then pick one of our favorite custom photo book services from this comparison, so you can preserve them somewhere more beautifully than “in the cloud.”

Top image: Shutterfly

Related: Creative men’s gifts for hard-to-shop for dads and grandpas

 

A comparison of our favorite custom photo book services

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. 

Comparing top custom photo books: Here's why Artifact Uprising is always a top recommendation

Artifact Uprising Custom Photo Books
(starts at $17)

Artifact Uprising makes gorgeous, keepsake albums with exquisite design, and our readers may recognize that we recommend them in our gift guides all the time for all kinds of occasions and people we love.

In terms of artistry and archival quality, you can’t beat these custom photo books; the hardcover books are bound in linen with a variety of dust jacket choices, and they also offer occassion-based photo books (babies, weddings, travel), as well as extremely affordable softcover books in all sizes, including a square, 5.5×5.5″ Instagram-friendly book.

We also love their new Color Series Custom Photo Books, to let you create a gorgeous library of small, affordable photo boos — say one you send to Grandma each month?

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?

A comparison of our favorite photo books: Why we love Pinhole Press

Pinhole Press Custom Photo Books
(starts at $14.99)

This wonderful, family-run site is another custom photo book site we’ve recommended for a long time — actually, right when they launched! Since then, they’ve grown beautifully over the years, and offer lots of unique formats for photo gifts, with features like cool spiral binding, an accordion-style brag book, or even photo gifts like photo tile games or puzzles.

Of course they also have classic soft and hard-cover photo books, all with exquisite attention to details like paper and printing.

Their modern, simple styles starts around $19.99 for layflat custom photo books with nice softcover binding, and there’s a wide variety of beautifully produced hardcover keepsake photo albums starting at $49.99 (though most are around $69.99) including their popular landscape lay-flat photo book with cloth binding, which comes in vertical, horizontal, or modern square sized custom photo books (above).

They starts at at $69.99 for 20 pages, with achoice of ten different binding colors, and the result is just lovely.

 

Blurb books custom photo books: Comparing with other top photo book companies

Blurb Photo Custom Books
(starts at $14.99)

The options from one of the original custom photo book sites, Blurb Books, are super popular and for great reason — the quality is spectacular, with some of the most customizable options I’ve seen anywhere on the web.Softcover books start at $14.99, hardcovers with image wraps or dust jackets are in the $29 range, and their higher-end hardcover, layflat custom photo book starts at $49.99.

Find options from cookbooks with old family recipes to cute alphabet books starring your very own kids, and of course, the classics.

Additionally, they offer options for book and magazine publishers, or let you become a self-published author yourself. That make the DIY design tools on their site a bit more than what you get from than quick-and-easy, drop-and-go photo book generator — you need to download their BookWright by Adobe design tool first — and that saves you 35% off your first book. But the multiple page templates make it kind of fun to put together, and the result is tops.

 

Mixbooks custom photo books: How they've evolved, and how they compare with other custom photo book services

Mixbook Custom Photo Books
(starts at $15.99)

What started as a series of Mosaic photo books featuring Instagram photos has really grown into a wide variety of books that you can either design yourself, or make it easy using one of their dozens (and dozens!) of custom templates.

A softcover 8×6″ book starts at $15.99, while a premium leather book with dust jacket starts at $44.99 for a smaller size, all the way up to $114.99 for a large 14″x11″ custom photo book.

While they do still offer some of the minimalist designs we originally loved, they have evolved to a more scrapbook-y feel, that may or may not be your cup of tea. However we do appreciate their specific categories for LGBTQ+ families, adoption, and family remembrance — plus Martha Stewart Mixbook designs — it really is worth a look around, especially for very reasonable prices.

Related: 18 meaningful Mother’s Day gift ideas for the far-away mom or grandma you really miss

 

Comparing the top custom photo books: Shutterfly has come a long way since they first started making custom photo books!

Shutterfly Custom Photo Books
(starts at $14)

Shutterfly was one of the very first services to offer custom photo books and is still a strong — and affordable — option in our opinion, so don’t sleep on them!

Because their background is in photo storage, they understand the value of sorting books by topic or occasion, meaning they offer ready-made templates with themes like Year in Review, Seasonal, Family, and Celebrations photo books to cover you from graduation to weddings to new babies. (Not necessarily in that order!)

There’s also a lot of modern new template styles (Simply Modern shown above), as well as a new designer collection of custom photo books, with collabs from various designers and design companies — even a  new “Memories That Spark Joy” book from none other than Marie Kondo.

And now they’ve launched a new Photo Book Experience service (formerly called Make My Book), that allows you to send the company all your photos so they they can personally do all the work for you. It’s free to get started, and a reasonable $9.99 design fee if you order the book.

Since Shutterfly custom photo book 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.

Related: 15 cool gifts for the guy who has everything. Except…well, these.

 

Chatbooks photo albums can be sent monthly, with photos you pull automatically from Instagram

Chatbooks Custom Photo Books
(starting at $10…sometimes less)

If you want to do as little work as possible, The Chatbooks service is smart — their original custom photo book is a fully automated monthly subscription in which you hook up your camera roll to their free app (iOS or Android), subscribe, and automatically get a beautiful 30-photo mini album (or Monthbooks album) mailed to you or a relative, each month for just $5 a month — or $10/15 for the larger Monthbook.

Similarly, Chatbooks offers an Instagram photo series book (starting at $10), which pulls your Insta snaps into 60-photo albums that only go to print when you’ve uploaded those 60 snaps.

For something more traditional, check out their Premium Layflat Photo Book, a custom photo book with up to 100 premium, archival pages of photos that also can be flowed right in from Instagram, Facebook, Google Photos, Dropbox, Flickr, or your own computer’s photo library.

Chatbooks new Facebook photo album lets you flow your favorite photos and posts into a keepsake album

And, depending on what you tend to post on Facebook (ahem), they also now let you turn your favorite Facebook posts into a photo book. Good idea, if your’e considering leaving the platform but want to keep some favorite photos and posts in hard copy somewhere.

 

 

Comparing the top custom photo book services: How Snapfish stacks up these days

Snapfish Custom Photo Books
(starts at $12.99)

If you’ve tried scrapbooking and it just isn’t for you, Snapfish, like Shutterfly, may be what you’re looking for. They offer lots of ready-made template pages, along with options to add in hundreds of embellishments — i.e. fancy clip art designed by the likes of Martha Stewart and Sirron Norris, all to give your book a more personal, scrapbook-y feel. So if modern designs feel “empty” to you and you’re a more is more kind of person, this may be right for you.

One of the big plusses is the ability to design your books (or other photo gifts from ornaments to mugs to t-shirts) right from the Snapfish app.

Admittedly, the quality of the photo books isn’t quite what you’ll get from Artifact Uprising, Blurb, or Pinhole Press, though they have improved over the years. However, they offer decent books at solidly low prices — Hardcover books start at $39.99, and that $12.99 will get you a 5×7″ softcover. With Snapfish, keep an eye out for frequent discount codes too.

 

Minted custom photo cards with accordion fold -- perfect photo book alternative when you have lots to make

Minted Custom Photo Booklet Cards
(starts at $2.52/ea for 25)

While Minted doesn’t specifically offer custom photo albums, they do offer some wonderful  7-page mini-booklet photo cards — basically mini custom photo books you can send to everyone you love over the holidays. While you do have to order a minimum of 25, they start at just around $2.50 each, which is pretty sweet. Plus, all their designs support the artists and designers who make them.

It’s a terrific option when you want to make a custom photo book, but have quite a few people on your list you’d like to send one too.

While we’ve got other posts focusing on photo gifts we also want to mention Minted’s custom photo cover journals. Especially since you can include multiple photos on a cover, they give you that sweet photo book feeling, only with a more practical use than just a coffee table book.

Related: 20 unique personalized gifts for kids, from toddlers to teens

 

Artkive albums are a beautiful way to professionally photograph and preserve your children's artwork into photo books

Artkive Photo Books of Children’s Art
(starts at $75 plus box fee)

With so many of us using photo books to preserve our children’s artwork, we have to give a nod to the Artkive Photobook service.

This dad-run service has become parents’ go-to way to digitally preserve our kids’ artwork and they do a lovely job. As in, they do the entire job, pretty much. You carefully pack a box of your children’s masterpieces, send them in, and Artkive does the rest for you from professional photography and editing, to designing the book, to sharing a digital proof.

Just know you definitely pay for this service — the box itself costs $39, and you’ll pay an additional fee if you want the artwork returned to you. (Some parents are really fine just having the photographs.)  From there, the photo books cost $75 for 25 photos.

They also offer framed mosaic prints, which recently received an Oprah seal of approval. Though we’ve been recommending them for years. In fact, find their Lifekive Heirloom keepsake prints service in our guide to best gifts for Grandparents from small businesses.

Related: 15 custom photo gifts to make your friends and family swoon

 

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