custom hardcover photo books

I’ve been an Apple loyalist for about a dozen years now. I’m there to support their great achievements like the G3 Powerbook Pismo and 2006/07 Macbook, but I’m quick to point out their blunders like the 2007 iMac and overpriced equipment like the Airport Base Station. I’m here to add another item to the greatest Apple achievements: iPhoto Picture Books.

At first they appear to be not exactly cheap, but they’re certainly competitive with other photo book services. It’s $30 for 20 pages in a hardcover book (ten physical sheets printed front and back) and $0.99 for additional page. Compare that to the cost of printing 4×6 photos and buying a nice photo album and suddenly the iPhoto Picture Book isn’t that expensive. And hey, you get your very own hardcover book. Hardcover books have a mysterical value that transcends the dorky 3-ring photo binder.

What you get for your 30 bucks is well-invested. Go with the hardcover book and it includes foil-stamped of your custom book title and a dust jacket that you design complete with inner flaps. The book cover is made of a “suede-like” material. This foil-stamping, suede cover and dust jacket is only available with iPhoto 08 (part of iLife 08 which comes with OS 10.5). I only have iPhoto v6, so I get a linen cover and a 5x7ish photo treatment with custom book title mounted on the cover of the book. It’s quite a nice display either way.

There are various different “themes” to choose from including the artsy fartsy “contemporary” to the fun and playful “crayon”. Within each theme are various page layouts you can choose. Options range from a full-bleed photo that covers the entire page to a six photo layout. Each and every page of the book is customizable. I’m an Art Director who works in Quark XPress and Adobe InDesign every single day. iPhoto Picture Book designs don’t offer anywhere near the full range of control you find in XPress or InDesign and that’s just fine. Apple is a leader in the world of design and their templated themes reflect that reputation. They are rock-solid, clean, professional layouts. What they sacrifice in design control, they make up in ease-of-use.

Side note for design professionals: Actually, you DO have full creative range with the layouts. Make your document size proportionate to 8.5″ x 11″ (remember to account for bleed). Do your layout in any program of your preference. Save or export the file as a jpg. Drop it into iPhoto Picture Book as a full-bleed image. Whamm-o. Fully customizable layouts.

The greatest thing about iPhoto Picture Books is the ease of use. It’s incredibly intuitive. I often find that easy-to-use software sacrifices powerful features. iPhoto Picture Books is able to maintain its practical functionality while offering tons of features.

Importing the photos into the book is a breeze. You just drag your photos from your iPhoto albums and/or iPhoto rolls into the book. Bam. All your images appear at the top of the window and you can freely move photos in and out. I just recently learned a great trick. Double-click on a photo and you can move it around. So if little Jimmy is at the very edge of your photo and he’s getting cut off once the photo is dropped in the Picture Book layout, then you can easily move the photo so he’s not getting cropped out. There’s also a zoom dial so you can easily crop your photos.

Remember whatever you do in iPhoto translates into the Picture Books. That includes red-eye removal, photo rotating, basic photo manipulation like sepia tones, and tonal range control. I prefer to do a lot of the back-end work within Photoshop cuz I’m a bit of a photo snob. However, I will say that iPhoto’s red-eye reduction works better than Photoshop’s.

Once your book is done, you just hit the “buy book” button and it walks you through buying the book and autouploading the layouts and photos. There’s a ton of other features that I haven’t touched on. I just can’t emphasize how incredibly easy it is to go from a collection of photographs to a final, customized, professional photo book. Apple makes it so frickin’ easy.

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16 years ago

I’ve seen one of these.. and have to say that I thought it was absolutely brilliant. If you had the right photos, one of these could make a great gift for that special someone.

I think it’d be fun to send a friend a photo book titled “Remember The Night You Had Way Too Much To Drink?”

Tom Saaristo
16 years ago

That’s a hard price to beat for what you get. Remarkable, really!

16 years ago

My boss and one of my coworkers have had one of these made. They are not bad. I’ve also seen littler books [kind of like flip books] that were made through Flickr.