Picture Snob

April 23, 2008

Battle of the Photo Books: Lulu is Comprehensive but Clunky

lulu.pngThis week we're looking at some key photo book services: Apple, Blurb and Lulu. We've written a bit about Apple already, but it's time to look at these three together. All three companies share a similar quality of printing and even pricing, but the way you build your photo book and the customization options are different.

How You Build the Book: Lulu Studio
First you sign up as a user (painless). You use Lulu Studio via the web to create your book. This application uses the latest version of Flash. Lulu Studio is intuitive but can be a little slow since it's dependent on your web connection. A great feature is that you can batch upload images. If you have ever considered your computer or internet connection to be "slow" this will probably be a frustrating way to make a photo book. It does allow you to save your books and switch themes in the middle of a design.

Extra Features:
The cool thing is that you can publish your book to the Lulu community and sell it there. This is great for exhibitionists, but also useful if you say, made a photo book of a friend's wedding and wanted other guests to be able to purchase it. Lulu has also partnered with some Universities and offers access to their logos and themed books.

How Customization and Design Weigh Out:
It's okay. There are quite a few themes to choose from, although we thought they were kind of hack. While you can't customize the covers very much they are at least an appealing format. What stinks is that you can't edit your image once it's in the book -- the images are auto-fit into the page -- if you want to zoom in on the image, rotate it or shuffle it to the left, you're out of luck. There's a lot of options for covers: dust jacket, casewrap, perfect bound, saddle stitch, coil bound -- more than any other service offers.

Pricing Baseline:
Hard Cover with Case Wrap ($24.95 and up)
Soft Cover Perfect Bound ($14.95 and up)

The Bottom Line:

Lulu's strengths are really in its community and self-publishing offerings. If your photo book project is simple and your internet connection is strong, go for it.

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Posted by Susan Moriarty at April 23, 2008 7:28 AM
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