What is a good photo book?

photo bookI have gotten a number of messages recently asking what photo book I would recommend. I wish I had the resources and time to try out all companies that make photo books, but unfortunately, I do not. Here’s what to look for in a photo book:

  1. A photo book is easy to create. For me, this means that the manufacturer accept generic page files or at least that the manufacturer provide blank templates that I can easily drop my pages into.
  2. A photo book is durable. The photo book must be stitched or assembled with PUR adhesive so that it does not fall apart over time. Hot melt adhesives are not acceptable. If a book is assembled with adhesives, you will need to verify that hot melt adhesives were not used. Companies that produce low-cost photo books frequently use hot melt adhesives. Metal staples are not acceptable, unless the photo book is manufactured with hinged lay-flat paper. Finally, PVC must not be used for the pages or cover.
  3. Accidents happen. The cover must be laminated to protect it from handling. The best covers are laminated with polyester. Uncoated traditional photographic paper must not be used for the pages. These pages will stick together if exposed to moisture or high humidity. Ink must not bleed or run if the pages get wet.
  4. A photo book is for photos. Photos should be high quality and printed to exacting standards. Some manufacturers will enhance photos; others will leave them unchanged. Pages must not have streaks or other print defects. Print quality is subjective  and requires a variety of test prints to evaluate. The same photos must be used to compare photo books that different companies product.

I hope these guidelines help. I will continue to provide information on photo books that I am able to evaluate, and I encourage you to post your own views on what makes a good photo book in the comments section for What is a good photo book?


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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8 Responses to What is a good photo book?

  1. Laura Townsend says:

    THANK YOU, Mark! This is wonderful information that I can share with my Creative Memories customers who are asking questions like this. So appreciative of your time in providing this to us, your blog readers!

  2. Thank you! The information is much appreciated.

  3. Kathy says:

    Again….a huge thank you as we seek out options for the great CM quality that you ensured for us. You are truly a gem!

  4. Cheryl says:

    Thank you for your insight. Is there a specific type of printing process we should be looking for? I seem to remember something about a digital press is better than a photographic printing process. Is this correct or is there something else we should look for?

  5. Pingback: Panstoria Photo Book Review | All About Images Blog

  6. David says:

    Sound advice. You are looking for something that will last, that will look good after many years but will stand up to being looked at for many years too.

  7. yusuf says:

    What can make photobook to melt apart from water

    • Mark Mizen says:

      Photo books may be exposed to high humidity, or in extreme cases may be damaged by water leaks or in floods. When I was at Creative Memories I would frequently receive calls from people whose photos were accidentally damaged in floods or had otherwise been exposed to water.

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