Make Your Own Photobooks

Shutterfly Review:
Shutterfly's Photo Book Service

At the end of this Shutterfly review, you'll probably come to the conclusion --as I have-- that Shutterfly.com is a good photo book site for you if you're a beginner to intermediate user.

While there are a few flaws to this photo book printer (which we'll talk about below), they're one of the most popular photo book printing services out there for a reason. The quality of their photo books is high, they offer a good amount of options and customization without a lot of additional hassle, and their photo book creation software is clear and easy to use.

What We Review: When reading through Make Your Own Photo Book's Shutterfly review, keep in mind that we mostly stick to: the software, pricing, options, and customer service elements of Shutterfly. These are very important elements of creating a photo book, and tend to be what differentiates one printer most from another.

But the product itself is important, too. For user reivews of the photo books themselves and personal user experience, see the bottom of this page. Ordered from Shutterfly? Please share your experience, as well!


Shutterfly's Photo Book Software

Of course, the most important element of this Shutterfly review is the overview of Shutterfly's photo book creation software. A photo book printer's software will make the difference between a nice-looking and easy-to-create photo book, and a not-so-nice pain of a book to create.

The result: For the most part, my review of Shutterfly's online photo book software was a positive experience-- it'a a nice piece of software that you use directly on their website. No download is required. It doesn't have quite the flexibility or all the features of a downloadable photo book software, but it offers a lot for something that's so easy to use.

The only photo book software option at Shutterfly still lacking --and, really, the only thing that kept them from getting an A+ in this Shutterfly review-- was the capability of using a picture as a background, with the option of putting pictures on top, which is a nice feature some other photo book printing services do have.

Using Facebook Photos in Shutterfly

One element of the Shutterfly photo book maker that I loved, though, was the ability to connect your Shutterfly account with Facebook.

What does this mean? It means you not only can share the photo books you create with your Facebook friends, the Shutterfly Facebook connection also allows the photo book software itself to use photos directly from Facebook-- which means no extra time spent uploading those photos you've already got uploading. A really nice feature.


Shutterfly Photo Book Customizability

When you go to create a photo book at Shutterfly.com, you'll be prompted to choose one of two paths:

  • Simple Path, or
  • Custom Path
  • The next part of this Shutterfly review will be a short critique of each.

    Shutterfly's "Simple Path" Photo Books

    Shutterfly recently introduced "Simple Path" books - layouts that are created for you from you pictures. This is a little more sophisticated than an "autofill" option.

    To Use or Not to Use? This tool is a great way to save time, but still end up with a digital photo book from Shutterfly that looks very nice. And it does create a nice book. But what it doesn't give you is a lot of flexibility.

    Photo Editing: Be sure to edit your photos before you add them to the book because it does not allow in-book editing as it does with the regular books. I also had a case where I had taken my pictures with less resolution than usual and one layout showed the picture to have too low of resolution. I tried switching several pictures and that didn't work. What I could not do was to change the layout on the page to have a smaller picture. But all in all, it is a good option if you want a to put together your book with a touch of a button.

    Shutterfly's "Custom Path" Photo Books

    Most readers of this Shutterfly review are looking for a more in-depth photo book creation experience. If that's you, the custom path at Shutterfly is probably the better option. This can be as simple or as work intensive as you want, and the Custom Path allows for a lot of flexibilty in layout, photo editing, text, etc.

    The Storyboard Tool: One thing that stood out in Shutterfly's Custom Photo Books was their Storyboard Tool. I like this software option, as it's a nice mix between custom photo book and automatic. It allows you to decide which of your photos you want on a particular page. But instead of having to decide what goes where on the page yourself, the Storyboard tool arranges them automatically for you. It's a nice feature and easy to use when you're short on time.


    Types of Photo Books at Shutterfly




    In the most basic sense, Shutterfly offers two kinds of photo books: "regular" and "premium" books. The regular books have more options available when you're creating a book. There are options to change backgrounds, layouts and edges of the pictures. The premium books are laid out with predetermined backgrounds with very little options to change-- but they look very nice as-is.

    Bonus: Shutterfly's User Photo Book Gallery: Shutterfly has a large gallery section with a wide assortment of books submitted by users. I loved the fact that you could sort through the tags and find your area of interest quickly. This is a great way to get an idea of how a final photo book will look.


    Cover Designs, Sizes, and Layouts

    Of course, an important part of any Shutterfly review is a good picture of the variety of covers, designs, etc. available. And while Shutterfly photo books come in a good variety of sizes, the one place they might be lacking is in cover options. Right now, Shutterfly's photo book cover options consist of:
  • Softcover Photo Cover
  • Hardcover Photo Cover
  • Padded Photo Cover
  • Leather Cover with Inset Photo
  • Fabric Cover with Inset Photo
  • While this is enough options for most users, it doesn't provide nearly the level of variety as, say, Picaboo, which has a ton of cover and design options.

    See the chart below for more information on Shutterfly photo album sizing and pricing.


    Other Shutterfly Photo Gifts and Products




    Besides photo books, you can also make a lot of other custom photo items at Shutterfly. Some of these options include:
  • Custom photo greeting cards
  • Custom photo calendars
  • Different kinds of photo mugs
  • Photo Coasters
  • as well as mousepads, clothing, tote bags, jewellry, organizers, Christmas ornaments, etc.


    Shutterfly Share Site and Photo Show DVD

    Shutterfly lets you share your stories or send out your favorite photos through customized share sites that are easy to create. It's kind of a fun bonus, and it's great because it also works directly with Facebook.

    Read my Shutterfly review and overview of the Share Site here

    or you can create a share site directly at Shutterfly here.

    Photo Show DVD

    Making a DVD of your photos is also easy, and a nice way to share or present a photo slide show for the family (though of course you can do this yourself if you have a DVD burner on your PC).

    To read our Shutterfly review of this product and an overview the six steps you'll need in creating a photo show DVD with Shutterfly, click here.


    Shutterfly Review: Customer Service Quality

    In my dealings with Shutterfly (both as a website about making your own photo books, and as a customer), I've generally found them to be prompt and friendly. Which I suppose is the least you would expect from a company this size.

    Their help interface comes in the form of email submission form, which will usually be answered within the next business day (faster, in my experience). They also have a customer service direct email address and a telephone number. I called once to test it out and the level of service was high, though it closes at 5pm.


    Shutterfly Photo Book Specifications

    Paper Weight 110#
    Max. # of Pages 101
    Shipping for one book $4.99 - 11.99
    Mac Compatible? Yes - if using Firefox not Safari

    Comparative Photo Book Software Review

    Background Themes Nice variety
    Layout Variety A wide variety
    JPG as a Background No
    Digi-Scrapbooking Friendly Extremely
    In-book Editing Yes
    Text - Variety and Full Page Good variety, also able to easily change font.
    Embellishments and Corners Top variety of edges that you can apply to your pictures.
    Full-Page Bleed Yes
    Final Grade A

    For an explanation of the Feature Set Review


    Shutterfly Photo Book Sizes

    The prices given are based on a 20 page book with printing on both sides of the pages. Additional pages are available for an extra charge. The price given is the lowest price for that size category.
    Softcover Photo Book
    7x9 $15.99
    5x7 $12.99
    8x8 $19.99
    Hardcover Photo Book
    8x8 $29.99
    8x11 $34.99
    12 x 12 $54.99
    Padded Photo Book Cover
    8x8 $34.99
    $8x11 36.99
    12x12 $64.99
    Leather Photo Book Cover
    8x8 $39.99
    8x11 $39.99
    12x12 $69.99

    Updated: August 11, 2010


    Your Shutterfly Questions, Comments, or Reviews

    Have you ordered photo books from Shutterfly? Tell other users about your experience!

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    Other Visitors' Reviews of Shutterfly

    Click below to see reviews from other visitors to this page...

    Print Quality Just Isn't Good Not rated yet
    I disagree with the whole premise of your review. The most important thing isn't the book creation software; it is the quality of their printing. What …

    Shutterfly's Photo Books with New Custom Path are SUPER! Not rated yet
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    Shipping at Shutterfly- Question Not rated yet
    I submitted my Shutterfly Photo Book order on June 29th. I requested the books be shipped to Nova Scotia, since I was planning to be there until the 25th. …

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    Making my photo book was difficult at the beginning... mainly because I was on a time frame and did not realize all …

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    For a more detailed pricing, please visit Photo Book Covers and Sizes

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