My Photo Book Review: Smilebooks, Picaboo, Mixbooks, Shutterfly compared
Choosing a photo book publisher has been a quest for me for over a year. I've tried all of the above and investigated many more.
My current go-to-publisher is Smilebooks - their paper and print quality is great. Thicker paper than any of the others gives them a real photobook quality. Their desktop software is easy to use. I will say that their software does not have the bells and whistles of Mixbook and Picaboo - lots of paper choices and add-ons - but then, I do my pages in PSE and save as full-bleed size jpegs or I use my own digital papers and png files and import to their layouts which are easily adjusted.
I love the ability to get files straight from my desktop without a tedious upload that the others require. Sharing books is not as easy as the other sites but can be done. I love Picaboo print quality and the binding of their books - glued and stitched. Their paper is much thinner (100lb compared to Smilebooks 135 lb) Picaboo is also more expensive for most books - even with coupons and specials.
Mixbooks print quality is adequate - a little faded in the book I made. Shutterfly binding suffers - poor quality gluing - won't take much wear before pages fall out. The pics were good, but the 8x8 was actually 7.75x7.75.
I actually ordered the same book in Smilebooks, Shutterfly and Mixbooks to compare. I do a lot of digital scrapbooking and wanted to find "the one". Smilebooks looked the best. Just wish they stitched like Picaboo.
One last thought -- a review of problems on any of the photobooks center around print quality -- most likely due to poorly calibrated and over-bright monitors. So, what you see is not what you get. Anyone editing photos has got to address these issues or they will likely experience print quality issues not related to the publisher.
Check out the site specs - be aware of any "vivid pic" options and turn them off if you edit your photos, get the full bleed size specs so that you don't lose stuff due to the book-making trim process. Happy book-making. I just ordered my 4th Smilebooks. Can't wait.