Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Vistaprint photo book review

When I was recently offered the opportunity to review a photo book from Vistaprint, I absolutely jumped at the chance.

I've made photo books before - mostly as gifts for other people - and they never fail to impress. So with Daughter's penchant for the written word in mind, I set out to write and illustrate a book just for her.

We've recently been taking a lot of trips up and down the country, so I thought I'd focus on one of those - namely the one in which she got to go the Scottish Museum in Edinburgh with her beloved Aunt. Once I'd written the text, I knocked up some quick pictures and coloured them in using Photoshop Elements, which apparently came free with my laptop... who knew, right?

I'm still waiting for the book to arrive because the pictures took far longer to colour than I anticipated, but I'll do a write up on that too when it gets here. For now, I'd like to concentrate on the actual process of making the book.

Firstly, I really liked that you were given the option of making the book online through your browser, or through special software. As a general rule, I download as few programs as possible (a habit from back in the day when things like memory were an issue) so it was great to be given the option. 

Annoyingly, this part of the site wasn't working when I went to make the book - at 3am - but I presume this was due to site maintenance as when I first tried the link after being given the assignment, it worked perfectly.

So, my only option was to download the software after all. As I said, it was 3am when I finally finished my pictures, so I wasn't in the best frame of mind to experiment with the various tools on offer. I did make good use of the 'dropper' facility when choosing background colours for my pages though - something that gave the whole layout a really smart, streamlined look. 

Overall, I was seriously impressed at the sheer scope of the program. From what I could gather, there were even facilities that linked in with Photoshop (for those who weren't trying it for the first time in the wee hours). 

The actual ordering of the book went smoothly from software to browser - another plus - though it did take a little while and I wasn't able to do anything else on my laptop while it was loading as this interrupted the process. This isn't a problem, really, as long as you're not as crazy impatient as me... Though again, that may have been more to do with the the fact that I was desperate for my bed... 

The options  you get as you go to the checkout are nice - the type of finish on the page, the cover fabric and the size of the book, as well as an embossed title which is something I've not seen before. Just before payment you can choose to have a mini-version of your book printed too which would be nice if you were making this for a wedding - for example - and wanted to give a copy to the bride/groom's parents. 

There are masses of things you could use these books for - they're an obvious replacement for a photo album in this digital age, you can do very personal things like write stories, you could make a cook book for a student leaving home, a display of products for your business... anything really. Prices are competitive with other companies I've used in the past too.

Over all, I'm really happy with how the actual making of the book went and I can't wait to see the finished product. 

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