where should you print your softcover photo book?

I’m excited to bring you another photo book comparison post, but this one is a little different- I looked at SOFTCOVER photo books this time! For my last two comparison posts, I was specifically looking for a higher-end hardcover photo book with impressive quality for printing my annual family yearbooks. I only make one copy of our yearbook each year and I am willing to pay more for this keepsake.

Many people like to make extra copies of their photo books though (one for each child, for example) and a nice way to keep the cost down is to print the extra copies as softcover books.

There are LOTS of options so I chose seven popular companies to compare. Here are the results (in alphabetical order).

SOFTCOVER PHOTO BOOK COMPARISON

Where should you order your softcover photo book?  Check out this helpful comparison of seven popular companies!

Artifact Uprising

I haven’t included Artifact Uprising in my previous comparisons because, honestly, they’re REALLY expensive. Their softcover option is more affordable so I decided to include it (plus many people requested it!). The quality was quite nice. The pages are a nice matte finish, I love the 10×10 size, and it feels more ‘luxury’ than many of the other books I compared.

But, my book was 76 pages and it cost almost as much as my hardcover book does annually! Personally, for that amount of money I’d rather get a hardcover book that will hold up better in the long run.

Where should you order your softcover photo book?  Check out this helpful comparison of seven popular companies!

Blurb

I’ve printed with Blurb many, many times over the years so I knew what to expect. I upgraded to the Proline Pearl paper (SO worth the extra few dollars) and the quality is great. However, the 7×7 size feels too small for my family yearbook. I wish they offered a larger square size. I also wish the cover wasn’t quite so glossy (you can see the way it reflects in the photo above).

Chatbooks

I get the 6×6 Instagram series from Chatbooks and I’ve never been impressed with the quality (it’s only $10 a book though) so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I ordered the 8×8 and it’s much better quality (still at a very reasonable price). They also offer a ton of cute, designer cover options or you can use your own photo too. The main limitation is their page designs are limited so if you want to include multiple photos + text on the pages I’d recommend designing your pages elsewhere (I use a program called Album Stomp to design my pages- love it! You can learn all about my design process in my Family Yearbooks online course.)

P.S. You can save $10 on your first Chatbook with this link!

Where should you order your softcover photo book?  Check out this helpful comparison of seven popular companies!

Mixbook

This is an 8.5×8.5 book from Mixbook and it’s very basic quality. Compared to the previous options it feels more like a magazine than a photo book- the cover is very, very glossy. It can get expensive once you add a lot of additional pages (thankfully they frequently offer very large discounts though), but for the price I think there are better options. I don’t recommend this one.

Mpix

The quality of Mpix’s “Softcover Panoramic” book is definitely the highest of all the books I compared. The pages are very thick, they lay flat, and the cover is sturdier than any other. I also think the 10×10 size is perfect. I’m impressed with the level of quality you receive for the price, for sure.

I will say I really struggle with their design interface- I almost gave up on this book at one point, but I’m glad I stuck with it. Another complaint is that my cover photo printed much darker than the other books, but the interior photos are true to color so I’d still recommend it.

Where should you order your softcover photo book?  Check out this helpful comparison of seven popular companies!

Persnickety Prints

The color quality of the Persnickety Prints book is really nice and I like the matte texture of the cover. But, the spine color couldn’t be changed so the color doesn’t wrap around the book which looks strange. Plus the spine text displays upside down (they design software doesn’t allow you to rotate it). I also think the 80 page maximum on a softcover book is too low. I don’t recommend this one.

Shutterfly

I’ll admit I didn’t initially want to include Shutterfly in my comparison because I swore them off a few years ago after lots of frustration with their design interface and multiple books that arrived looking different than my design. But, there’s no denying that when you’re looking for a really affordable solution, Shutterfly leads the way. If you wait for one of their ‘unlimited pages’ sales you can get an incredible deal. That said, this book is pretty standard and has a fairly glossy cover. I like that they offer 10×10 size.


Ok that was a LOT of information to digest. I know everyone’s personal priorities will vary quite a bit so I made this chart to compare pricing, sizes, pros, and cons for each.

A note about the costs reflected in the grid below: no sales or discounts are reflected. The pricing is based on the book size that I ordered (which is the first size listed in the grid). My Family Yearbook was 76 pages so I included that cost for comparison.

Where should you order your softcover photo book?  Check out this helpful comparison of seven popular companies!

My final thoughts…. (drumroll, please)

If PRICE is your priority, Chatbooks is my favorite.
If QUALITY is your priority, Mpix wins for me.


Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a book from one of the companies I reviewed today, I’d love it if you would use the links within this blog post to visit their websites. I will make a small commission from your purchase which will help cover my costs for all these sample albums.  I hope you found my reviews helpful and really appreciate your support!

Where should you order your softcover photo book?  Check out this helpful comparison of seven popular companies!


3 comments
  • Kathleen

    I have never printed a photo book, but have always wanted to. The price has scared me, as well as the unknown quality of the photos. So many have given negative reviews for poor color quality. Thanks for doing this. I might jump in with a smallish soft cover.ReplyCancel

  • Ellie Gudeth

    Great info, thanks!  I print my loose prints through MPIX but have never tried their photo books, I’ll have to check them out. I was wondering why you didn’t include Printique softcover, but after looking at their website, it looks like the max pages is 40 – definitely not enough.  ReplyCancel

  • Traci

    Another plus for mpix – they are a small business! And for me, they are local.ReplyCancel

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