Having taken thousands of photos over the last year I decided to get a few photo books printed as a great way to show off the images from ten months abroad in 18 countries. After reading a number of reviews online I opted to go for MyPublisher which seems to be quite well regarded.
After sorting, selecting and finalising my images in Lightroom I used the MyPublisher software to build the books. It was very straightforward, allowing addition (up to 100) or removal of pages and the ability to select from range of page layouts. Once you’ve chosen the book size plus cover style and the photos have been imported into your project you just drag and drop them onto each page if, like me, you don’t want to ‘auto populate’ the entire book. You can also customise each page by adding, removing or resizing photo and text boxes. I designed the front and back covers in Photoshop then just added them to a 1 photo full page layout. The same applies to the first page (a map of our trip) and the back page (scanned copies of all our passport stamps). Other than that I stuck to out of the box layouts.
Once you’ve designed and previewed the project then you can complete the purchase and upload it all. Be sure to check the MyPublisher website for promotion codes because they always seem to have a discount available. Without a coupon code they can be very expensive. I made 4 different books (one per continent) but found that I couldn’t put them all together into one order – each had to be purchased and uploaded separately – which was a little frustrating but not a major problem (unless you have a 1 time only discount code). Throughout the process I received a number of updates informing me when the book was printed and dispatched (from the USA) and they arrived a week or so later using the standard delivery option.
I had opted for the lay flat pages with super gloss finish which really did look great! However, in order to achieve the lay flat effect about a quarter of an inch was lost from every page at the spine. This meant that text was lost from labels and photos that extended all the way to the spine were cropped. On the two page panoramas about half an inch was missing from the middle.
I complained and was quickly issued with an apology and instructions to amend my design and re-order them for free. The explanation and advice wasn’t quite as good though:
- “Please leave at least 1/4 inch around the borders of your image and text boxes. Please do this for all affected pages.” Well, the software doesn’t have this margin on page layouts and doesn’t include a ruler or guide to help you manually leave the space…
- “Please note, the Mac software is not capable of creating a two page spread.” Then why does it have the feature? If it can’t do it then don’t have a button that allows me to do it
When I redesigned (simply minimal changes to ensure no text was next to the spine and to re-position/crop a handful of images so they could afford to lose a little by the spine) and reordered the books I decided not to bother with the lay flat pages so I went for the normal layout and got the deluxe paper (thicker) instead. When I completed the purchase and uploaded the books I received the confirmations that the orders had been made but a week later I got a bizarre message from MyPublisher saying:
“Unfortunately, there was a problem with the file that you sent, and we are not able to process it. We realize this contradicts the fact that you have indeed received a confirmation number for this order. Please accept our apologies for this dilemma. Rest assured, you have not been charged since we did not receive your file. With that, we can also not tell which project you may have been trying to upload since we were unable to view the file on our side. When your file is sent over the internet, it is broken up into chunks. If you are connected wirelessly, sometimes not all of these chunks arrive on our side. Also, some poorer internet connections such as satellite or dial-up can cause this problem. If you are connected wirelessly, please connect directly into your network with a cable if that option is available to you as this should resolve the issue.”
Not very helpful and I’m not entirely convinced about the reasons… When I contacted customer support they were able to tell me which orders failed so why wasn’t that information included in the email? Also, since I had in theory completed the purchase, my discount codes had expired so I had to get them re-issued again.
The new books eventually arrived. The deluxe paper is very thick, like thin card, so each book is thicker, and by going for the standard layout (rather than lay flat), it is like a conventional book so quite tight close to the spine. They look great though and I haven’t spotted any errors!
In terms of colour, both the original set and the new set made a number of images look warmer than on my monitor. This is, I am sure, due to my monitor calibration rather than a printing error and is not a serious problem and was only noticeable to me on a very few images that were quite warm to begin with. In the second batch I did tweak the white balance of a few images so they came out looking a bit cooler, but that’s personal preference. Everyone who has looked at the books as been very impressed and I am very pleased with them.
To be honest, if I wasn’t as fussy as I am I probably could have lived with the original lay flat page versions (with the cropping problem) but given the price I thought a complaint would be worth it and I was very impressed that they replaced them so quickly without any questions. Yes, there were a couple of software problems which caused some layout issues delays due to upload but overall the service was very good.Reading the review through makes it look like it was all problems.
Yes, there were a few hiccups but the quality of the finished product is outstanding and everyone has been very pleased with them. I will definitely use MyPublisher again and have no problem recommending them. Next time I think I will probably go for the lay flat pages again and just be careful with my design to avoid the cropping. I will go for the standard page thickness as well. The deluxe is very thick and I personally don’t think it is really necessary – the regular paper was still thick with a high quality feel to it. The super gloss finish is great.