A while back I enjoyed making a bunch of the mini iPhoto Books for family members as holiday gifts. The size was fun and portable, good for the grandparents to show off and all that. They were relatively cheap, and in typical Apple fashion, easy to […]

A while back I enjoyed making a bunch of the mini iPhoto Books for family members as holiday gifts. The size was fun and portable, good for the grandparents to show off and all that. They were relatively cheap, and in typical Apple fashion, easy to create.

But when they arrived in the mail and I tore it open to have a first look, I was pretty disappointed. The print quality of my images was mediocre at best. I could understand the colors possibly not being calibrated, but this was image quality, not tonal distortion. And while they were still a hit as gifts, I was less than pleased with the final product.

But I tried again. I scoured the Apple Discussion Boards and Googled the topic. I ordered 2 or 3 more books, each time changing the settings to see if there was a sweet spot. Higher resolution images, scaled-down image sizes, etc, etc. Nothing really seemed to do the trick. Each time they made for nice memories, but it was the content, not the quality to be certain.

So since I’ve stayed clear of iPhoto Books over the past couple years, I wonder what they’re like these days? I’d love to hear from anyone who’s ordered one recently – please share your thoughts on the final product if you don’t mind. With Services such as Lulu.com that put out actual high-quality, is Apple’s offering a bit lacking and behind the times? Or have they quietly upped the ante and developed a more satisfying product for their customers?

  1. Just bought one for my parents (buncha pics of the grandkids) as a test, since I’d never ordered one before – and it turned out GREAT! My mom’s in the printing business, so she’s pretty picky about… well… printing, and she was impressed with the whole deal. I ordered one of the medium-size soft-cover books.

    Regardless, I’m guessing that most people (with a mac) will pass over Lulu.com just because it’s so stinking easy to do with iPhoto, and the final product is much more professional looking (lulu only does saddle stitching (staples) for up to 32 pages, and then only offers perfect-bound above that – no hardcover for photobooks).

    I’m curious about the greeting cards and calendars, though. Any feedback on those?

    1. did any one now where apple print ther foto books?
      In with Factory in Europe ?
      Pleas i ned an Answer…

  2. I agree completely with your thoughts, but I tried it again this year using Aperture’s Book System. I have to say two things about this. First, the photo quality was MUCH higher. Now, these are printed in a different state, so they are clearly not exactly comparable. That being said, in the largest images (spread across two pages with a less than ideal photo size), the quality was less than ideal and worse than my iPhoto book. Looking back at the Aperture book production, I would say that you don’ ever want to push the limits of their warning system. In the pictures that I was dissatisfied with, I was several reductions away from their built in warning system, but I think you want to stay well away from their warning levels. I know that my answer is not exactly on target since it was Aperture, but I was looking for whether the two books were dealt with differently, and I could not really find the answer on the web. The point is that if you have Aperture than the answer is that the quality is good, if you only have iPhoto the answer is that they have better technology, so the books may have improved in iPhoto ’06. I can also attest that the Aperture book is better than my experiences with lulu and shutterfly, but both of those companies had better “books” or “Hardback” despite their lower quality image pages.

  3. I chose to use Shutterfly for a photo book for my wife. Their choice of covers is what sold me – leather, linens, etc. The 50 page book was delivered within 4 days of my order and it looks very professional. Book-store quality IMHO. They have an iPhoto plug-in so uploads were a breeze.

  4. I did a photoalbum in lulu.com and it was really great. The advantage is that Lulu is much more flexible.

  5. I saw examples of every type of item that Apple prints at a recent MUG, and all of them looked impressive. I ordered a bunch of the small books as gifts.

  6. Over the past few years the books and large prints I printed with iPhoto turned out nicely. However, the large prints I ordered last holiday season were so bad I required that they be reprinted or my money refunded. They were so extremely bad I was shocked that the factory mailed them out: the printer was obviously out of ink in one color and patterned lines were clearly visible through several of the images.

    The last two books I created through Aperture were also of very poor image quality and had issues with the binding. To this day one of the cover images will not remain affixed to the cover! I should have sent them back but the first order was “lost in the mail” and had to be resent. I was just glad to finally get them.

    On a brighter note: I just ordered calendars through iPhoto for the first time to give as holiday gifts. The print quality was excellent. I just wish they were of the standard off-the-store-shelf size instead of the small size they make.

    In my thinking, Apple needs to attend better to quality control in this area.

  7. Jason Alexander Tuesday, December 5, 2006

    Having recently converted to Macs in the past year, my wife was ecstatic to find this ability with iPhoto. She’s now built and ordered books for our entire family for Christmas gifts. Overall, I think the process was incredible (as is par with Apple). I’m disappointed to hear of the lack of quality in the photo books themselves, but we’ll see I suppose. We haven’t gotten our’s in yet, but I’ll have my fingers crossed.

  8. http://www.mpix.com looks interesting for making books, calendars, etc. I haven’t tried it yet but I’ve gotten very positive reports from photographer friends that use them for high quality prints on metallic paper, etc.

  9. I just ordered a calendar through iPhoto and was very impressed with the image quality and look of it in general.

  10. FUDsucker Proxy Tuesday, December 5, 2006

    As a professional photofinisher I would like to remind people about GIGO.
    Garbage In, Garbage Out.
    I can attest to the unbelievably bad photos that people submit and try to blame ME for the bad “quality” when there was no “quality” there to begin with. What looks good on the screen does not guarantee that it will look good printed on the page.
    Taking a good quality photograph requires skill that probably 90% of the population does not posess, hell, even so called “professional” photographers don’t posess those skills! Of course being “professional” just means you get paid to do it, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are any good at it!
    So when comments talk about issues with bindings I can believe that, but poor image quality, well, that I take with a “grain of salt” I would have to see the original file before I would take anyone at their word.

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