July 12 2008

Over the long weekend in the States last week, I passed a fair bit of time making physical images out of recent digital photographs.  The effort made for an interesting experiment, as I tried working with three photobook services -- Flickr/,, and iPhoto itself on my (daughter's) iMac.  As the subject of the post indicates, is the hands-down winner, and here's why.

I was working on the iMac/iPhoto with snaps from three recent trips -- Playa Del Carmen, Mexico, Istanbul and Athens, and Paris and London.  I placed an order with each of these three services at the conclusion of all the deleting, sorting, cropping, and digital manipulation.

: Considering that all of these photos already existed on Flickr, I assumed it would be easy to work with to build some pretty cool albums.  In the end, I discovered that QOOP's choices for photobooks are extremely limited -- in fact, you have absolutely zero ability to manipulate the layout of a book.  It's simply a stream of pictures, in the order in which you determine.  Unfortunately, this isn't apparent until after you finish the process of putting your photos in sequence.  That was a real time suck.

In the end, I still used a Flickr print service.  I ordered individual prints of the photos from Playa del Carmen, delivered via a nearby Target store.  I know there are several vendors that offer this web-to-print service, but it's still a technical marvel to me.  I took my wife to the store about an hour later and just stopped off at the photo desk.  We picked out an album while in the store, and now we have our memories of Mexico.

I think QOOP has some interesting photo products, including canvas prints.  But the photobook experience was disappointing, and I'm not sure how quickly I'll try again.

Apple iPhoto
:  As with all things Apple, iPhoto's book-ordering service is very sleek and easy to use.  The one-click purchase option, tied to your existing account, is a nice bonus.  The downside is that you have relatively few page layout options, and sometimes iPhoto thinks it is smarter than you in working with layout.  As I mentioned the last time I blogged on this topic, the production output from that first use was sub-optimal, and it took a lot of extra effort to "warm up" the photos in the album.  I had already done a fair bit of work with my Istanbul photos to make them look their digital best, so I decided to give Apple one more shot and click "order".  I'll update this post early in the week when the actual book arrives... even though it was ordered the same day as the MyPublisher book (below), it's not here yet.
Update: Well, it's here.  Some of the pictures look surprisingly grainy (shot at 6 MP), and a few appear to have uneven color application (clear blue sky has different shades).  The paper feels damp (perhaps because the shipping box sat in a FedEx delivery truck all weekend).  Overall, I'm unimpressed, again.
: My wife and I have used before, and when it came time to build our Paris and London album, there was no question of which site I was going to use. has an extensive list of book design choices, both hardcover and paper-bound.  For the pages themselves, a near-limitless set of layouts exist, including some interesting montages.  The software is incredibly easy to use, offers a constant navigation tool, and is available for Windows and Mac.

Also, while re-ordering a project on iPhoto involves re-uploading it, keeps the uploaded album online.  In fact, if you'd like to see my finished Paris and London album, you can click here. FTW!

The album arrived on Thursday and I was totally impressed, again. often e-mails coupons and discounts, further drawing you back to using the service.  I'm sure in the next few weeks, as I catch up on some more printing needs, I'll be back on

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