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The Best Affordable Photo Books

posted by on September 16, 2011 in , Cameras and Photography, Photo / Video Sharing, Guides & Reviews, Money Savers :: 5 comments

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iPhoto Photo BookI hate to admit it, but I rarely print photos anymore.  Yet when I have a memorable get-together with friends or family, sometimes I surprise everyone afterwards with a little photo book of the highlights.  They take just a few minutes to make online, and with prices starting under $3, they are affordable gifts.

Today’s photo books come in all sizes, qualities, and prices for every budget and occasion.  And they’re a lot easier to make than you’d think.

Most photo book sites can auto-fill your photo book with one click, based on when you took your photos. And some go beyond that. For example, Apple’s iPhoto uses facial recognition to center pictures on faces when fitting photos into templates, star ratings to feature favorite photos more prominently, and meta-data (date info and more saved in your photo files) to group related photos together on the same spread.

You’re not stuck with files that you’ve uploaded to the site you’re using to create your photo book either. Many now let you pull photos in from Facebook, as well as from your PC.

You can also choose to edit your books online or offline. If you’re just looking to auto-fill your books or do a few edits, online works well. Downloadable applications are great for working on very long or complex books, especially if you don’t have a fast Internet connection.

Two other things to keep in mind when choosing a photo book site. First, if you plan to use the book as a keepsake album, pay more for acid-free archival books.  Also consider online archivability – some sites just keep your online book for 30 days, while others will store it indefinitely, even letting you share it with others online so they can make their own customized version. 

Also, double-check the shipping options and costs before you start, and factor them in to your total project.  Many sites have optional pick up at an affiliate retail store to avoid shipping costs.

Here are some of our favorite sites for affordable photo books.   

SnapfishWalgreens and Snapfish
No kidding, Walgreens offers some of the smallest and most affordable paperback photo books, with 2” x 3” minibooks at $5.99 for 25 full-page photos.  These have fixed length and don’t allow captions.   Step up to the 4” x 6” bound brag books at $6.99 for 25 pages (up to 15 photos/page), expandable up to 150 pages, with customizable layouts and captions by page.  Walgreens’ print partner, Snapfish, features the same robust user interface and similar book formats, and many more ways to repurpose your photos.  Use Walgreens when you want to avoid shipping costs with in-store pickup, and even get same-day pickup on one hardcover format. 

Mixbook is a relative newcomer that offers robust customization in books starting at 4” x 6” for $6.99.  Unique to Mixbook are its sharing and collaboration tools.  Invited friends can collaborate on the work in progress, adding photos and pages to the book. Finished books can be shared by embedding the Mixbook player code on a website or blog.   

Blurb is all about books, and it shows.  Here you can make (and sell!) customized books of any shape, size, paper type, and layout.  Its entry level is a $4.95 paperback 5” x 8” booklet with 20 pages.  Use the online tool, or download the bookmaking software.  Blurb excels when text and photos combine in complex layouts, as in a memoir, and when special shapes and sizes are needed.  

iPhoto photo bookiPhoto
Mac users have a simple but functional solution in the pre-installed iPhoto application.  The smallest book format is 3½” x 2⁵⁄₈” soft cover with 20 pages, sold in 3-packs for $11.97.  (Similar-sized booklets in multi-packs are available to non-Mac users from and  Additional pages can be added.  Also unique to Apple is a spiral-bound option in larger sizes that allows the 2-sided printed pages to lay flat when open.  Few formats and layouts are available from iPhoto, but the software runs on the local PC, which means no worries with Internet lag, and checkout is easy using an AppleID. 

Discussion loading


From Amy on September 16, 2011 :: 1:04 pm

iPhoto users can also upload their PDF to Viovio and have more options to print at lower prices -


Great idea to make books as favors

From Helen on October 03, 2011 :: 1:57 pm

I think that is so cool that you give photo books as gifts after memorable get-togethers.  When someone is hosting an event, they rarely take pictures of the event, so I think the best way to say thanks is with a photo book.  What a great keepsake!  I am a Creative Memories consultant, and one of the favorite things about my “job” is the joy of helping others to preserve and share their favorite memories.  Photo books are a popular way to do that, and as the author says, “they’re a lot easier to make than you’d think.”  Once you make your first photo book, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!


Hotprints out of business

From Anjani M. on December 13, 2011 :: 1:44 am

FYI: Hotprints has gone out of business.  Their site says their business has gone now to


Anjani M


What about larger photo books

From Dianne on January 09, 2014 :: 12:31 pm

Can you please tell me what are your favorite places for photo books like the 8x11?

Also are there any larger like the 8x11 “spiral” photo books?



Your timing is fortunate!

From Josh Kirschner on January 10, 2014 :: 11:51 am

Did you see this story we published today?


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