The best photo books in the UK in 2023

The best photo books in 2020: create a personalized picture album online
(Image credit: Louise Carey / Digital Camera World)

It's never too early to think about the festive season – and the best photo books are a great way to gift your loved ones something sentimental and personal (without breaking the bank!). Whether you want to create a wonderful round-up of your friend or family member's favorite memories or celebrate a specific event, the best photo books are the perfect gift.

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A photo book isn't just a great gift though – it's also a lovely way to celebrate your own memories and experiences. Plus, with all of the customizable features and stylish templates available, you can make your photo book truly unique. We particularly enjoy the ability to create your own custom front cover, which truly adds a little extra polish.

How to create a photo book (opens in new tab)

Many of the services available here give users the choice between autofilling the pages of their photo book, or manually arranging the images themselves. If you don't need your book in a specific order, being able to automatically fill the pages can be a fantastic 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 2023

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

(Image credit: Future / Louise Carey)
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Best photo book service in the UK

Specifications

Ships to: UK
Cover options: Soft, glossy, matte, leather
Paper options: classic, high-gloss, true matte, classic photographic, gloss photographic and matte photographic
Sizes: Landscape, square, portrait

Reasons to buy

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Award-winning software
+
Affordable
+
Professional finish

Reasons to avoid

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Highlights cost extra

When it comes to the best photo book services in the UK, CEWE (opens in new tab) leads the way. Not only are the products affordable, the high-quality finish and range of options are second to none. A beautiful book starts with the right paper and CEWE has six luxury options to choose from, each of which has been selected for its quality and print suitability. 

CEWE has it's own award-winning design software, for which you'll find a page dedicated to tutorials (opens in new tab) on how to create and make the most of your photo book design. There's also the ability, for an added cost, to get gold or silver highlights for any hardcover CEWE photo book. 

We’re not really a fan of having to download an app to be able to order from a photo finishing platform. However, despite being required to do this in order to be able to design our photo book, we did find the software quick and easy to download. It was also simple to navigate for our photo book creation process as well.

Using the photo book creator tool, you can add and edit text easily, choosing from a wide range of fonts and sizes to personalize your book. The CEWE Photoworld book assistant (CEWE’s tool for automatically arranging your images) is also one of the cleverer ones we’ve tested, allowing you to customize what number of photos are spread across what number of pages.

One of the first things we noticed when we took the CEWE photo book out of the fairly minimal packaging was how crisp the image on the front cover was. When compared with front covers on the other photo books we’ve reviewed, CEWE Photoworld’s offering had much more detail. In addition, while the color accuracy wasn’t quite perfect, it was much better than the majority of the other books. 

Inside the book we found that the paper stock was really good quality and the images were printed sharply and fairly accurately. It’s worth noting that the sharpness of the printing does mean that noise is much more likely to show up than in other books. We also found that the prints in general ran a little darker than the other photo books we reviewed. 

(Image credit: Future / Louise Carey)
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Easy to use design software and very good value for money

Specifications

Ships to: Worldwide
Cover options: Soft, glossy, matte, leather
Paper options: Semi-gloss, pearl finish, ultra-thick premium matte
Sizes: Landscape, square, portrait

Reasons to buy

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Simple-to-use software
+
Most affordable option

Reasons to avoid

-
Quality could be better

When it comes to the best photo book service Mixbook are hard to beat. Their products are available to ship worldwide, it regularly runs big discounts making it very good value. The Mixbook software is very easy to use and it can all be done on your web browser. Choose from over 400 fully customizable templates plus there are lots of backgrounds and stickers you can include to make it really unique. 

There are three different paper finishes to choose from, semi-gloss, pearl and an ultra-thick premium matte paper if you want a lay-flat photo book. We ordered the 8.5 x 8.5-inch classic square glossy hardcover book and found the process very easy. Uploading images was quick and it didn't take long to arrange them.

When the photo book arrived we noticed there was some fringing on the edges of the cover image and the logo. We also spotted some color inaccuracies, especially on the cover which has a red tinge to it. 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. 

(Image credit: Picaboo)
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3. Picaboo

Make your photo book unique with extensive customization options

Specifications

Ships to: Worldwide
Cover options: Glossy, standard
Paper options: Standard, lay flat, Premium Lustre
Sizes: Landscape, square, portrait

Reasons to buy

+
Good print quality
+
Excellent customisation
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the highest print quality

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. 

best photobook - Shutterfly

(Image credit: Shutterfly)

4. Shutterfly

Either design your own or let the Shutterfly design team do it for you

Specifications

Ships to: Worldwide
Cover options: Hardcover (matt/glossy), die-cut in cloth, leather
Paper options: Standard matte, ultra-thick satin finish
Sizes: Landscape, square, portrait

Reasons to buy

+
Simple to use
+
Lots of templates

Reasons to avoid

-
Finish can be inconsistent

A brilliant all-rounder, Shutterfly is another of the best photo books services to offer really simple to use software to help create a great-looking book. There are loads of templates and backgrounds to choose from, as well as a Make My Book service, with which you provide Shutterfly designers with details of your requirements and they 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.

(Image credit: Future / Louise Carey)
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A reliable, simple-to-use photo book service

Specifications

Ships to: Wordwide
Cover options: Softcover, hardcover, matte hardcover, hardcover (glossy), hardcover lay flat
Paper options: Standard, glossy, lay flat
Sizes: Landscape, square, portrait

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Easy to use
+
Accurate colors

Reasons to avoid

-
Quality could be better

Snapfish has been in the personalized printing business for more than two decades and offer a range of products including photo books. The software is an easy drag-and-drop experience and you can pick from 120 themes. 

The quality of the Snapfish photo book isn't quite as good as other on the list but it regularly offers pretty hefty discounts so if you don't need it straight away look out for these. We were pleased with the photobook we received although the colors seemed to be accurate they were a little more saturated so be careful if you're sending in images that are already highly saturated. We also noticed a couple of wonky prints and once you spotted them they were so hard to unsee. 

If you're after a super high-quality finish, look elsewhere but if color accuracy and value for money is your game, Snapfish is a great option. 

(Image credit: Future / Louise Carey)
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Despite fiddly software, you can't beat Mimeo's quality

Specifications

Ships to: USA, UK
Cover options: Softcover, hardcover
Paper options: Standard

Reasons to buy

+
Great quality
+
Inside photos true to color

Reasons to avoid

-
Cover photo colors not quite accurate

Mimeo Photos (opens in new tab) 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. 

(Image credit: Future / Louise Carey)
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The best photo book service for beginners

Specifications

Ships to: Worldwide
Cover options: Softcover, hardcover, lay flat
Paper options: Standard (170 gsm), thicker paper (230 gsm) or high-gloss finish (on 204 gsm paper)
Sizes: Landscape, square, portrait

Reasons to buy

+
Affordable
+
Easy to use 
+
Good for beginners

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the best paper and print quality 

Photobox is an online printing giant that almost always has generous discount offers available, so there’s a good chance you won’t pay the full price we’ve quoted. It also offers well-polished online book creation software that’s easy to use with a helpful 3D book preview, plus plenty of layout, background and cropping choices. 

Like many of the photo book creator tools, Photobox purports to be able to design your photo book for you. You can choose whether to do this by chronological order or by file name. While it wasn’t perfect, we were pleasantly surprised by Photobox’s efforts. It grouped the images together fairly intelligently and it would have only taken a few tweaks to perfect the layout. 

We were fairly pleased with our photo book from Photobox. The shipping was fast and the protective packaging was pleasingly substantial - in fact, this book was the best protected out of all the photo books we’ve reviewed. 

The color accuracy on both the cover image and the photos inside was pretty decent, with no major complaints from us. However, we did have a few small quibbles with the quality of the book. The first is that each end of the book’s spine had a few small creases. While these wrinkles weren’t anything major, they weren’t ideal and we didn’t see them on most of the other photo books that we tested. 

In addition, both the cover image and the photos printed inside the book weren’t quite as sharp as they could have been. This softness was only really noticeable upon close inspection of the book, but it would have been nice if each image had been nicely sharp.

(Image credit: Future / Louise Carey)
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8. Bob Books

Superior quality, service and finish

Specifications

Ships to: Worldwide
Cover options: Softcover, hardcover
Paper options: Classic, gloss, matte, lustre
Sizes: Landscape, square, portrait

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent quality 

Reasons to avoid

-
Editing software not the best
-
Barcode can't be removed

Bob Books (opens in new tab) offers four different options for creating your photo book, including the ‘Bob Designer Software’, the ‘Online Book Creator’, a PDF-to-Book option and an iOS App. We tried out both the ‘Bob Designer Software’ and the ‘Online Book Creator’, and found them both very easy to use.

While it took us a little while to wrap our heads around the design system that Bob Books employs, we actually grew to really like it. You simply add as many images as you want onto the page and then you’re able to choose from a variety of different layouts to get the most aesthetically pleasing page. You can also use the ‘Swap photos’ button to adjust your layout until you’re happy with the order of the photos. If you’re not sure how to arrange your images, Bob Books also offers a ‘Suggest a layout’ button, which does it all for you. 

Bob Books offers four different options for creating your photo book, including the ‘Bob Designer Software’, the ‘Online Book Creator’, a PDF-to-Book option and an iOS App. We tried out both the ‘Bob Designer Software’ and the ‘Online Book Creator’, and found them both very easy to use.

While it took us a little while to wrap our heads around the design system that Bob Books employs, we actually grew to really like it. You simply add as many images as you want onto the page and then you’re able to choose from a variety of different layouts to get the most aesthetically pleasing page. You can also use the ‘Swap photos’ button to adjust your layout until you’re happy with the order of the photos. If you’re not sure how to arrange your images, Bob Books also offers a ‘Suggest a layout’ button, which does it all for you. 

Update: We have since been contacted by a Bob Books representative, who has advised that the reason our photo book cover was so overly saturated was because we had used the 'Automatic Image Optimization' function. 

While the 'AIO' function only advises that "Crop, aspect ratio, red-eyes, etc. will be corrected if necessary", it appears that it also affects the saturation of your photo as well. We would recommend that you turn this function off to avoid your cover becoming over-saturated. 

You can do this via Settings > Photos in the Bob Books software. 

(Image credit: Louise Carey / Digital Camera World)
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Print a photo book direct from your Facebook or Instagram library

Specifications

Ships to: USA, UK, worldwide
Cover options: Softcover, hardcover
Paper options: Standard Paper (90gsm), Semi-Gloss Soft Paper 135gsm

Reasons to buy

+
Great quality colors
+
Choice of paper quality and cover type
+
Well packaged

Reasons to avoid

-
Website is slow to use

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.

(Image credit: Vistaprint)

10. Vistaprint

A great affordable option with a decent range of options

Specifications

Ships to: USA, UK, Worldwide
Cover options: Linen, leather, photo
Paper options: Glossy, Standard Matte

Reasons to buy

+
Website builder is easy to use
+
Option to download photo book builder software

Reasons to avoid

-
Not a wide range of designs

Vistaprint is another experienced personalized photo printer with a lot of customizable options. For photo books, there are three different cover options to choose from including linen, leather and photo. You can also opt for either glossy r standard matte paper. There are two ways to design your book, either using the web-based builder or you can download the offline editor from the Vistaprint website. 

Both are fairly intuitive to use, but Vistaprint's downside is there aren't as many options to choose from as other manufacturers. It does have several options for backgrounds, clip art and frames you can use but they're not the most 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, you might want to go for a different manufacturer, such as Mixbook.

(Image credit: Blurb)

10. Blurb

No web-based builder, but app works very well

Specifications

Ships to: USA, UK, Worldwide
Cover options: Softcover, Hardcover, Dust jacket
Paper options: Standard 80#, Premium Lustre 100#, Premium Matte 100#, Proline Uncoated 100#, Proline Pearl Photo 140#, Standard Layflat 100#

Reasons to buy

+
App-based builder is easy to use
+
You can sell your photo book creation

Reasons to avoid

-
No web-based builder

Blurb is a unique photo book seller compared to the other companies on this list. Not only can you create a photo book with Blurb – you can also sell it on to other people. This means that if you're a professional photographer, you can easily self-publish and sell your work in a book via the Blurb bookstore without having to go through a traditional publisher.

Blurb begins at £9.99 for 20 pages (with each additional page after that costing 15p), which is a reasonable price for a photo book manufacturer. Blurb offers a range of finishing options, including a softcover, hardcover or dust jacket and six different paper choices. In fact, you can even order a swatch kit (opens in new tab) to ensure you're happy with your design choices.

Blurb offers a multitude of ways to create your photo book masterpiece, including a plug-in for Adobe InDesign and BookWright, Blurb's own desktop software. There does seem to be a way to create some Blurb products on the website itself, but photo books aren't included in this unfortunately.

However, Blurb does offer an app for iPhone and iPad that works pretty well. The controls are intuitive and simple to use and the app responds quickly to your commands (with no lagging at all). The design options for the pages themselves seemed a little limited, so if you were looking for a super personalized book, then you may want to choose a different photo book manufacturer on this list.

Photo book creation advice

How to choose the best photobook service

There are many companies providing photo book services and deciding which one to use isn’t easy, with each offering numerous book sizes, designs, and paper options. First you need to work out what purpose your photo book will serve and then determine which service best suits your needs. For example, creating a professional photography portfolio will require high quality paper and printing services to ensure no image quality loss. 

But even high print quality isn’t much good unless you’re able to nail the layout and design. That comes down to each manufacturer’s accompanying book creation software, and what tricks it will let you pull off. Here are five tips to help you get started:aIf 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 (opens in new tab) might just be the provider for you. Alternatively, perhaps you just want the best quality possible? If so, CEWE (opens in new tab) 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 UK photo book 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! 

Read more

Best photo frames (opens in new tab)
Best digital photo frames (opens in new tab)
Best gifts for photographers (opens in new tab)
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Best photo albums (opens in new tab)

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.