iPhoto Books: Great Gift or Behind the Times?

30 Comments

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?

30 Comments

Cheryl Fleming

buy from http://www.mypublisher.com they do not make the mini books, however they used to. They run great deals all the time, and if you do not like ANYTHING ABOUT THE BOOK, you can return it and get another one, great tech support too. really cool.. good luck, this is an old post, however my post is current, i am a pro and use these books all the time

Sweet Tooth

Mac screen default settings are more contrast and saturated than need be. You need to calibrate your screen. When I did it I was amazed at the difference and had to go back and reedit numerous photos. Make sure your screen is displaying what you are actually ordering. I am satisfied with my iphoto book orders. My first choice if I need something (usually soft cover session book) in a hurry.

Lukas

did any one now where apple print ther foto books?
In with Factory in Europe ?

Pleas i ned an Answer…
Thanks

Barry

To James:

I “HIGHLY” doubt the book took three weeks to get to you, unless you live in Antarctica!?

We have ordered dozens of books from Apple’s service and have ALWAYS been pleased, and have NEVER waited longer than 5 – 6 days FROM the time we’ve submitted our order online.

Furthermore, if you have ANY issues with your book you should have immediately contacted Apple with the contact information you receive when you order the book, or from the shipping info you receive. In most cases, if you don’t receive a partial refund – they’ll refund your ENTIRE order!

That’s just HOW GOOD Apple is!

kevin

Does any one know if and how you can get coupons to off set the cost of making an iphoto 100 pg. book that runs now about $150.?

James

I have just received my iphoto book and i am very disappointed, the images lack color and sharpness. I spent hours editing photos that needed a liitle touch up and it seems they have just resorted back to the default. The photos where taken at high res and look great on the apple monitor, but on paper the are terrible… considering it took 3 weeks to get here… im not a happy camper.
Will not recommend apple books to friends at all.

Shan

So people write that they have used older iPhotos. What about the new ’09 version. I work as a photographer and quality is very important for me. Once I heard that one photographer was using a Australian company for he’s books with superb quality but I do not remember the company. Now I need to order 20 books(35 pages) for a client and I have no idea from who to order. So please let me now if you have any good ideas.

And they have to be shipped to finland…

Regards, J

Karen

I just printed an iphoto book with version 4, using high quality photos. I was very disappointed as the sharp colors, images were not crisp, seemed fuzzy. Based on #20 feedback, version 4 may have been the culprit. I’d be very interested to know if anyone has experienced a significant change in quality when they upgraded to newer iphoto versions. Should I trust iphoto or move on to another book maker (though no one seems to be raving about another easy / quality option)

an$ett

I’ve found an improve since moving to later versions of Iphoto. Back when you commented, i imagine you were using Iphoto 4 (?) which limited picture quality when uploaded or built to send to apple to 300×300 pdfs. The newer versions (6 onward) have increased quality to 600×600 allowing sharper less “hairy” looking images. You may not find this a problem anymore

Vicky

I just finished and received an album made from pictures taken of a wedding in St. Thomas. I’ve ordered 4 more. The colors were stunning and the quality was top notch. My girlfriend was thrilled! Two suggestions… do not print pictures that have a warning about the quality and use a camera that has at least 6 mega pixels. My only suggestion to apple is to increase the choices for album colors. Does anyone know about coupons for apple albums? There’s a box for a code# but I have been unable to locate any.

Daniel

Well, I’ve tried the service for various things over here in Europe.
Suffice to say that I have been please when I have actually recieved my orders. This year I placed three separate orders (one for books, two for different xmas-cards) and I have as of today only recieved ONE shipment. These were placed well over a month ago, and two of them have been lost in the mail according to Apple. 2 out of 3? Pretty poor.

We’ll see if Apple offers me compensation. Regardless, does anyone have recommendations for alternatives in Europe?

//Dan

Carrie

I ordered a book for my parents for Christmas from Apple. The picture quality was great, but when I was looking through the book, the pages that were stapled together just fell into my lap. They were not bound to the cover. I was under the impression that they would be.

I am not sure what to do, because we are leaving in a few days to visit my parents and I would like to give them the book, but as it is I don’t feel like I can.
Does anyone have any experince with this. The pages are not attached to the cover.

Jason Alexander

To follow-up on my previous comment, we got everything in finally, and the results:

1.) Xmas Cards – This year we chose to use Apple for our Xmas cards. While the experience to build and customize our cards was incredibly nice, once we got them in we were a bit disappointed. We used a really high resolution photo and everything, but the photo looked a big fuzzy.

2.) iPhoto Books – These turned out great! The pictures were super crisp, the quality was very, very nice. We’re going to definitely be doing more of these. My wife is even a scrapbooker and she said she may start doing these instead of trying to scrapbook everything.

Anyways, just wanted to report back! :)

Christine

I recommend mpix.com very highly. Mpix is part of a larger parent company that has been printing photos for professional photographers for many years called Millers. I have been using Millers for about 7 years now and have always been impressed with their quality. I also use mpix for my personal pictures and can’t say enough positive things about them. The cool thing is that mpix uses the same technicians and quality standards to print your photos as they do with their professional customers. The papers that they use are exceptional and the metallic paper is gorgeous. It shimmers. They also offer many speciality products and they ship fast. I would suggest you give them a try.

DrKoob

I have done books and calendars. I have always done books from iPhoto and my quality has been good. I did seven hard cover this year and they looked great.

In the past I have done calendars with Ofoto but I love the new options in iPhoto like being able to put all our annual dates right out of iCal. And being able to put multiple pics on each page as well as pics on dates. Very cool.

I too am in the printing business and find their product excellent. And an excellent value for the money and nothing could be easier.

Mitchel

Personally, I do not use the Apple’s service through iPhoto, I use the MyPublisher.com plugin for printing. The books are a little cheaper and if you order any books before the end of December, you can use the coupon code: mac2550 to get 25% of $25+ or 50% off $50+ spent on books.

Nick Santilli

Fudsucker – there’s some truth to that of course. But it’s a null point when i print the image on my home inkjet and compare it to the version from Apple. Same exact file. You can tell a difference, and it’s not the elements of the photograph.

Jasona – let us know how they come back. As I mentioned, my experiences are in the ballpark of 2 years old. I’d sure hope things have improved since that time.

Weldon – I’ve heard of mpix, never seen a product from it though. Will have to re look into that.

FUDsucker Proxy

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.

Brian

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

weldon

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.

Jason Alexander

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.

Tim

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.

Galley

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.

Bruno

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

Larry

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.

Leo Smith

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.

Steve

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?

Lukas

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

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