Friday, 5 October 2012

Trials and Tribulations of Photobook Publishing

I have been busy over the summer and one of my projects was to publish a photo book. For various reasons, I ended up producing three with very different aims and therefore, pricing has also been from one end of the scale to the other. However, I thought that some of my thoughts and experiences may be interesting for others.
Initially, I just put a lot of my favourite photographs of Skiathos together with quotes and ordered a small paperback copy from Vistaprint. The software was easy to use although the lack of spell checker and not being able to see what I was actually writing because it was so small  with the online program was problematic. However, when it arrived, I was pleased with the result, the photo paper quality was great, the print colour rendition was lovely and the binding was quite nice for a paperback. I ended up taking two of them to Skiathos as gifts for some friends who have been very kind to us. One of these friends has a shop and questioned if we could produce something maybe of a bit lesser quality, a little more cost effectively for the tourist market.

So, on our arrival home, firstly I looked into buying greater numbers of the book produced by Vistaprint. Sadly, when I accessed the site, only the very small photo snap books are now available. Therefore, I contacted customer services. The response was brilliant given that it was a Saturday and I had my answer inside an hour! However, Vistaprint have stopped doing photo books temporarily while they increase the quality of their product. Actually, as value for money, I was quite happy initially. Every day, I get an email from the company offering discounts on every product in the sun...apart from the one I want!

So, then I went looking a little further. This time I used Lulu because the pricing was competitive. Especially for what we were thinking of and the discount is good for multi buys. I spent a week creating a 30 page book. The online publishing tool was good and very easy to use. When adding text, it zoomed in large so you could easily see what you had written. As recommended by Lulu, I then ordered a proof copy. When it arrived, it was nicely laid out, the cover was lovely gloss and overall represents fairly good value for money. If I have one complaint, the binding is a little tacky. The print quality is not as good as the Vistaprint one either but, then the price tag wasn't so hefty either. Except.......

After viewing it for real, I had a couple of minor alterations to a couple of pages, only tiny tweaks but, things that stood out to me. After going back online and changing these, the price mysteriously more than doubled! To be honest at the time, I was incensed! Customer services took more than 24 hours to respond and told me to republish. After which, the pricing came down a little more but, even then the cost was half as much again as the original price! After puzzling for ages, I took a good look at the site and realised that in between the first copy and the second, the prices has been increased somewhat dramatically. I wished I had left it as it was, so much for proof reading! Anyway, customer services came back and offered me a laughable discount.....I was so angry, I almost removed it. However, that would be silly, if anyone uses the 20% discount from the Lulu homepage, it is still a very affordable book with lots of images and wildlife of Skiathos. It can be viewed here

Nevertheless, I am still looking around for something along similar lines because I have not been entirely happy with the Lulu experience!

My final experience was completely different but, I decided I wanted a book for our coffee table. For this one of course I was not thinking of commercial viability at all. This was a no expense spared one for us, with our memories and favourites. Having experienced two very different qualities already, I wanted a top of the range super glossy, large, hardback book where the binding lay flat. I came across Albelli who are doing a promotion at the minute of £15 off any photo book. I have to say their editing software was a treat and unlike both of my previous experiences you could see exactly what price you were going to end up with at every step of the way. The price updates as you add pages, photo cover etc in the corner of the software program.

Now, this one has arrived today and it will take pride of place.....The colour rendition is wonderful and I love, love, love it. I guess you get what you pay for!


kaslkaos said...

I flipped through the Abelli version, and must say it looks stunning in layout and design, not to mention the photography itself. It looks so lovely.

sue said...

I agree the Abelli book looks wonderful.
When on a Mike Sibley course last year I met a lady who has self-published several books using Blurb. She bought a couple to show me and they looked very professional but don't know how they compare pricewise with what you've had done?

CherryPie said...

I keep thinking I should have a go at one of these but never quite get around to it.

Peter Hunt said...

What a fantastic book and filled with wonderful photos.
Well done!!

paintingskiathos said...

Hi Chrissy! Another fine post! I always enjoy your blog so much that I've nominated you for a 'One Lovely Blog Award'. Check out my latest post at for the details on how to accept. Keep well! Much love, Yvonne xx

Peter Hunt said...

Further to my earlier comment,I can completely and utterly recommend this company(Albelli)for photobooks.Having browsed your copy for tips and ideas I have just received mine of the same first class quality.
Thanks Chrissy for putting me on this.I know my wife will like it at Christmas.