My Photo Book Dilemma

In addition to high quality printing, here are my requirements for a photo book:

  1. 12×12 – I design all my pages for this size and have no particular interest in smaller books.
  2. Softcover or Spiral Binding – I prefer to spend my money on my photos, not on an expensive hardcover binding
  3. PUR Adhesive – Photo books made with hot-melt adhesive will fall apart over time.
  4. Laminated or Coated Cover – Laminating or coating a cover protects it from damage due to handling.

With four simple requirements and a multitude of photo book manufacturers, I should be able to easily find what I am looking for.  Unfortunately, it is not so easy.

I was able to identify three photo book suppliers that offer 12×12 softcover photo books: viovioMichaels, and mypictales. Viovio and Michaels offer a perfect bound 12×12 softcover book, while viovio uses a spiral binding system. Other suppliers choose to offer the 12×12 size only in hardcover.

Next, I contacted these vendors to ask about their books. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Viovio laminates their cover but does not use PUR binding.
  2. Michaels uses PUR binding but does not laminate or coat their covers.
  3. Mypictales does not laminate or coat their covers.

In other words, no manufacturer is producing the book I want at a reasonable cost! Yes, I am aware of suppliers that will basically do whatever you want, but those companies are cost prohibitive.

If you are aware of any companies I have missed, please let me know. I need to complete my summer vacation photo book soon.



About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
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14 Responses to My Photo Book Dilemma

  1. Jean Rood says:

    Why are you not using Creative memories book service?

  2. Linda says:

    Why don’t you just use the “scrapbookers” method and put your 12×12 layouts in drop in pages? Why would you want to “bind” it anyway?

  3. Laura says:

    OK, is this a joke? I only use Creative Memories, don’t you?

  4. Mark Mizen says:

    Thanks for the comments:

    1. My understanding is that Creative Memories does not currently offer a 12×12 softcover photo book (see requirements 1 & 2 in my original post). I am no longer with CM and do not know if they are planning to change their product offering.
    2. I prefer a bound book to drop-in pages. It takes up less space, is more economical, and better meets my needs. I do use the Creative Memories Custom Album Pages and Covers for projects where I may want to add additional pages at a later time.

  5. Ola Otto says:

    Why, oh why, would you not include and use Creative Memories?????

  6. Jean Rood says:

    It is correct that CM does not offer a 12×12 softcover digital book. If they did I am sure it would be better than any of the other options.

  7. Liesbeth says:

    Mark, I know that you -unfortunately- no longer work at CM but you should be able to answer this question: Does CM use PUR for the (portrait) 8.5×11 soft cover book? I’ve only ordered this once. It already was falling apart when I received it. CM replaced it and since it was a gift (to someone far away) I don’t know how the replacement book is holding up. I rather have stitched books and regret that CM doesn’t offer that option in the 8.5×11 size. I’m surprised that you don’t want to invest the extra money to get a stitched binding. Thanks for explaining more.

  8. Mark Mizen says:

    PUR adhesive will only fail if it is not allowed to cure properly; otherwise it is as strong as a stitched binding. There is even a desire among some binders to allow PUR adhesives for long-term preservation. Current ISO binding standards limit the use of adhesives for long-term preservation – a requirement that, in my opinion, is not really justified.

  9. Susan says:

    I am curious as to why you prefer a soft cover book for the large 12×12 size? You mentioned that you want high quality photos in your book, but I would be concerned that a soft cover book would not protect the pages/photos adequately. Wouldn’t they be more likely to get “dog-eared” and be exposed to more wear and tear than if they were inside a hard cover book? I think of paperback books as more of a temporary item, and a hardcover book as more lasting, as long as it has a quality binding. Do you expect that the projects you print in soft cover will not be looked at very much?

  10. Mark Mizen says:

    I have many softcover books and have never had a problem with durability, even though I have two kids who frequently look at them. A well-made softcover book will last as long as a hardcover book. I also really like the fact that they are more economical than hardcover books, so I can afford to make more books..

  11. Kimberly says:

    Does CM use the PUR adhesive for their softcover books?

  12. Mark Mizen says:

    Yes, CM uses PUR adhesive. They offer 5×7, 8×8, and 8.5×11 softcover books.

  13. Jean Rood says:

    My other thought about a 12×12 soft cover binding is that the pages would not lie flat enough.

  14. Mark Mizen says:

    The Creative Memories 12×12 softcover StoryBooks that I produced as samples for Showcase 2011 had no problem with the pages lying flat. This product was one of the top requests from Showcase that year.

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