With Christmas just around the corner, the best photo books make a great gift for your loved ones. They're sentimental, personal and will bring so much enjoyment every time you look through them. Whether you want to create a photo book of memories over a period of years or just a single day such as someone's wedding, photo books won't break the bank and it's fun designing them too!
A photo book doesn't just make a great gift – they're also a fantastic way of celebrating your own memories and experiences. Perhaps you've just come back from your travels or you want to document your children's lives, photo books make perfect keepsakes that you can cherish and look back on in years to come.
There are lots of customizable features and stylish templates you can choose from when designing your photo book. If you're feeling extra creative you can choose a blank template and design everything including the front cover from scratch which adds another touch of personality.
If you're feeling a little lazy or perhaps you're just running out of time, lots of the services we've listed have an autofill option if you don't want to drag and drop photos manually. Of course, if you're trying to tell a story then you'll have to insert them yourself but if it doesn't need to be in a specific order, this can be a massive time-saver.
To help you find the best photo book service for you, we've reviewed and rated each of the products in this guide. We've tested each service based on the quality of their books, the speed of the shipping and how functional and user-friendly their photo book creator tools are. Discover our favorites below…
The best photo books
The best photo books in 2022
Printique is the online service of Adorama, the well-known photo store in New York. And the company's expertise in photo printing is obvious in the quality of its products and finish it delivers. If you're looking to create a professional photography portfolio, you'd be hard-pushed to find a better photo book service to do it.
The best photo book options are available in square, portrait and landscape format, in 14 different sizes, plus there are six paper weights to choose from. All of the hardcover, fabric, and leather photo books options have pages that lay flat, which, unlike other companies on this list, Printique doesn't charge extra for.
The Printique photo editor interface looks a little busy, but is fairly intuitive and easy to use, clearly highlighting book edges, where and how to upload images and add special features including stickers, shapes and frames. The only slight downside to this service is the lack of editing options after a product has been added to the cart, so make sure you're completely finished creating your book before doing so.
When it comes to providing the best photo book service, Mixbook is certainly a tough one to beat. Not only are its products available to ship worldwide, Mixbook often runs sizable discounts, making its range of photo books (and other products such as photo calendars or photo prints) a veritable steal.
The Mixbook software is incredibly easy to use – you don't have to download anything, as it's all done in your internet browser. There are nearly 400 fully customizable templates, backgrounds and stickers to choose from, which enables you to create a perfectly polished photo book that will impress anyone who sees it.
Mixbook photo books come in three versatile paper types, semi-gloss, pearl finish and an ultra-thick premium matte paper for its lay flat photo book option.
We ordered a 8.5x8.5" Classic Square Glossy Hardcover Photo Book. We found the process of creating a Mixbook photo book simple and easy to navigate, with plenty of customization options available for each of the many templates Mixbook offers. Uploading images to the site was simple, and arranging them on the pages didn't take long at all.
However, when the photo book arrived we did have a few issues with the quality of the front cover of the book. There was some fringing on edges of the image and the logo. While it wasn't immediately obvious, it was definitely noticeable when inspecting at close quarters. In addition, the colors were inaccurate on the cover as well. While the original image used for the cover photo had been graded with warm oranges, the printed cover skewed more red.
However, most of our issues were with the cover of the book. The images printed on the inside were true-to-color and printed nicely. Plus, the design and layout of the book were genuinely beautiful and helped bring the photos to life.
Picaboo's print quality might not quite be on par with others, but what it lacks (only slightly) in finish, it makes up for in features and customization options.
Its software is super-easy to use, with features such as backgrounds and clip art option easily located to help you achieve the desired look. The print quality is of a high standard, and the added option to polish photos to help them match backgrounds goes a long way to helping get that professional finish.
Shutterfly is a fantastic option for anyone who wants really simple-to-use software to create a professional-looking photo book. There are lots of templates and background to choose from plus a Many My Book service where you can supply your images and design ideas and Shutterfly designers will do all the hard work for you.
Shutterfly also offers a number of great discounts throughout the year, so if your need for a photo book isn't immediate, a good offer is always just around the corner.
Snapfish is probably one of the best-known photo book services having been in operation for the past two decades. It certainly knows a thing or two about printing and offers a range of personalized services including photo books. With so much experience in the printing game, it has a really simple drag-and-drop photo book editor which will help you through every step of the process including how to pick from over 120 themes.
If you're on a bit of a budget, Snapfish offers really good money-saving deals all year round so if you're not in a rush to get it sorted, it's worth keeping an eye out for discounts. It's worth noting, while the discounts are attracting, if you want a super high-quality finish, you might be best off looking at some of the other services on the list that specialize in professional photo books.
That being said, we were fairly pleased with the photo book we received from Snapfish. Colors were accurate throughout the book and on the cover too. Other photo books had a tendency to struggle with printing the colors on the cover photo accurately, either the skin tones would be too red or overly saturated with orange. The cover was however a little wonky and once we noticed that, it was hard to unsee.
It’s also worth noting that while Snapfish’s offering was probably the most accurate color reproduction for the cover out of all the photo books, it was still quite heavily saturated. To ensure you’re happy with your photo book front cover, we recommend avoiding images that are already highly saturated.
In terms of the rest of the book, the printing quality inside the book is fairly good. The color accuracy is decent and, although the prints could be sharper, the image quality as a whole is fine.
Walgreens Photo is one of the best photo book sites to use to make a quick and simple custom photo book. And by quick we mean the same day if you're able to pick it up. Its easy-to-use editor means you can put your design together in no time, and with the company constantly running discount offers, it won't break the bank either.
If you want a photo book in a hurry, you always run the risk of sacrificing quality. And while other services on this list undoubtedly offer a superior finish, Walgreen's still offers a very decent service in terms of print production and value for money.
Mimeo Photos offers both a third-party Photos app extension for MacOS, allowing you to create and edit an Apple Photo project to be printed, and a web-based builder. There are over 50 theme options, including well-known Apple favorites and you can customize layouts and backgrounds for your own personal touch. You can also apply edits, adjustments and filters to any photo directly within the app's design page.
We created our photo book using the Mimeo Photos app. Once we'd downloaded the app extension, the software itself was relatively easy to use. However, where Mimeo Photos really shone was in the quality of the book we received. We ordered a hard cover book, which arrived with an attractive dust jacket (although the cover image was also printed on the actual cover of the book as well).
The only gripe we have about this book was that the saturation seems to have been pushed up for the front cover image, as the skin tones on both the dust jacket and the hard cover itself became a luminescent orange. However, the photos inside the book were beautifully printed. They were nice and sharp, with none of the fuzziness experienced in cheaper options. Unlike the front cover, the colors also printed accurately.
My Social Book offers something slightly different from the rest – allowing you to create books from your Instagram or Facebook pictures, providing you a hardcopy of your favorite social media memories.
The software is easy to use – as you simply link your chosen social media source to My Social Book, and then choose the time frame you want your book to cover. Fortunately you can exclude those embarrassing posts and out-of-focus images, so that you only print the images you want. And you can also choose the image you want on the cover. However, we found the whole compilation process is rather slow - and the printing and delivery takes its time too.
However, the quality of the printing is much better than an average photo book printer – and this is a great way of ensuring that you have your camera phone pictures backed up in a physical form.
Vistaprint is another photo book option that you might want to consider, offering plenty of options for a fun photo book creation. There are three different cover options to choose from, including linen, leather and photo. Users can also select from two different paper options – Glossy and Standard Matte.
Vistaprint offers two different ways to design your photo book. You can use the web-based builder, which is pretty similar to many of the web-based builders from other photo book manufacturers. Alternatively, if there's also an Offline Editor that you can download from the Vistaprint website. Vistaprint recommends this type of photo book builder if users are looking for "enhanced personalization options, like extra backgrounds and layouts".
The Vistaprint web-based builder was fairly intuitive to use, offering a decent selection of layouts to choose from. The one thing we would say is that Vistaprint don't offer the same selection of designs that manufacturers such as Mixbook or Snapfish do. However, there are some customization options for the backgrounds of the pages, clip art and frames that users can incorporate into their designs – just don't expect them to be overly stylish.
The web-based builder gives users the opportunity to design their own book from scratch, or have the builder fill in the pages for them. Most other manufacturers offer this service and Vistaprint's isn't much different than the rest – it's a little hit-and-miss. Some pages will look nicely put-together, while others might seem clunky.
Overall, Vistaprint offers some affordable options for photo books, but if you're looking for more sophisticated design choices, then you might want to go for a different manufacturer, such as Mixbook, instead.
Blurb might not have a web-based photo book builder but it does have a lot of other things going for it. For example, unlike any other service on the list, once you create your book with Blurb you can then sell it to other people. This is great if you're a photographer as you can easily self-publish your work and sell it through the Blurb bookstore. There's no need for a traditional publisher and you'll keep more of what you earn.
Blurb isn't the cheapest by any means but it's still pretty reasonable. Prices start at $21.99 for a 20-page book with each additional page costing $0.25. Blurb offers a range of finishing options including a softcover, hardcover or just jacket plus six different paper choices. If you're unsure what to pick, you can order a swatch kit to make sure you're happy with your choice.
There are a variety of ways you can create your photobook masterpiece including a plug-in for Adobe InDesign and BookWright, Blurb's unique desktop software. There isn't an online web-builder but Blurb does have an intuitive app for iPhone and iPad that works pretty well. The design templates seemed a little limited so if you wanted to create a super personalized book, one of the other services will probably suit your needs better.
Photo book creation advice
How to choose the best photo book service
If you've made it to the bottom of the list of best photo book services and you're still not sure which one to pick, don't worry! With so many different providers offering so many different book sizes, designs and paper options, it's natural to feel a bit overwhelmed at all of the choice. However, to figure out which service to go with, we'd recommend figuring out exactly what it is you want.
Are you after a super affordable service with speedy shipping? Then Mixbook might just be the provider for you. Alternatively, perhaps you just want the best quality possible? If so, Printique offers excellent print quality with a professional service.
However, there are features beyond image quality and great shipping to be aware of. User functionality is a key part of creating a good photo book, as you need to be able to navigate the photo book creator tool with ease. Here are some tips to help you make the most of whichever service you end up using:
• You don't need to prepare your pictures in any particular way. Regular JPEGs are fine.
• Some photo book services offer book design tools in your own web browser, others offer free apps you download and run on your computer.
• Your pictures may be cropped. This may apply if you're using multi-photo page templates or printing a picture right up to the edges of the page (borderless).
• Some books come with a lay-flat binding, which makes them easier to leave open.
• You will usually get a choice of paper finish. Glossy paper is good for contrast and color, matte paper is better at hiding fingerprints and reflections, soft-sheen lustre papers offer a good middle-ground compromise.
• We have listed our choice of the best US photobook services – however many of these will ship worldwide.
How to create a good photo book
1. Select your photos
To make the photo book design process as smooth as possible, we'd recommend selecting all of the images you want to include beforehand. If some of your desired photos are on your phone, it'll definitely make your life easier transferring them to your computer ahead of time!
2. Choose your design
The majority of the best photo book websites have hundreds of potential designs for you to choose from. This might seem overwhelming at first, but you can usually narrow the selection down into different sections, such as weddings, travel, family and more. When choosing your template, we would recommend thinking about what your own photos look like – if they're super busy and colorful, you might want to go for a simpler design to help your images pop.
3. Arrange your photos
What do your favorite books all have in common? They all have a narrative – and so should your photo book. While we're not asking you to construct Macbeth-level storylines, a beginning, middle and end will help your photo book feel coherent and more enjoyable. The simplest way to do this is often construct the photo book in a generally chronological order.
4. Make bold design choices
If you're a fan of scrapbooking, you'll love the stickers and text functionality that many photo book services provide. However, we would caution against overuse, as you don't want to overshadow your photos!