Panstoria Lay-Flat Photo Book Review

photo 5_crop

The Panstoria lay-flat photo book uses hinged pages to allow the photo book to lay completely flat. I like these pages, even though they cost more. One of the advantages of lay-flat pages is that photos can extend from one page onto the adjacent, facing page. Panstoria uses a black hinge to prevent the hinge from looking like a white line between the two pages. The binding on my lay-flat book was uniform with good quality corners. The metal stitching held the pages together nicely.

photo 2_cropMy initial sample showed a loss of toner on the back side of the pages near the hinge. On pages where the sky or other medium density portion of the photo extended across both pages,  some of the toner failed to adhere to the page, leading to a lighter color near the hinge. This problem is similar to the wear that might be present in a heavily used book, except in this case the book had not been used at all. I saw no problems with darker photos and with photos that did not extend from one page to the other. If you see this problem, contact Panstoria and request a replacement photo book. Reprinting resolved the loss of toner and the new book is fine. I did notice that with certain images, the printing was slightly darker over the hinge, but I did not find this objectionable.

photo 1_cropUnfortunately, lay-flat books are somewhat difficult to create with Artisan. To extend a photo across two pages, the photo must be 23.124″ wide, with the same vertical position on both pages. The duplicate photo on the right page must be positioned at -11.124″ for the alignment to be correct. If this sound complicated, it is. In spite of my best efforts, I made a mistake on one page resulting in a 0.13″ misalignment between the two pages that I did not see until I received my printed book. One of the advantages of reprinting was that I was able to correct the alignment problem, and the reprinted book is fine.

I would like to see Panstoria improve the creation process in future versions of Artisan. Ideally, the software should handle a photo extending onto two pages without requiring a duplicate photo to be manually positioned on the second page.

Saving trimmed pages for photo books does not account for the lay-flat hinge. This factor prevented me from easily create a PDF slide show, like I have done for some other books. I would love to see an easy way of creating slide shows from within Artisan.

Panstoria uses different margin settings for their lay-flat photo books than Creative Memories previously used. Consequently, you may need to copy your pages into a new project and adjust the photo positions before printing, if you are trying to print a book that was previously printed at Creative Memories. Initially, I failed to make the appropriate changes and the results were disastrous.

Be aware that lay-flat photo books are currently limited to 59 pages with Panstoria, so if your book contains more than 59 pages, you will either need to order a standard book or locate another manufacturer that produces lay-flat books with more pages.

Lay-flat pages are more expensive, with an added cost of  of $34.50 for a 12×12 photo book. However, they also help make a special photo book truly special, and I encourage you to consider them for future projects.


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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12 Responses to Panstoria Lay-Flat Photo Book Review

  1. hueynews says:

    It’s it better to use ink rather than toner for photobooks?

    • Mark Mizen says:

      Most high-speed digital presses uses toners so this is how most photo books are produced. Some manufacturers use traditional photographic paper for photo books but this tends to create problems with the facing pages sticking too each other under high humidity, unless the pages are coated with a protective layer.

  2. Janet Phillips says:

    Mark – have you looked into MixBook? You can’t use your own content, but they have drag/drop templates so you can spread a photo across two pages easily and not have to tweak measurements. Wondering if you’ve investigated their quality.

    • Mark Mizen says:

      I have not looked at MixBook, because I am unable to obtain books from them without paying for them, See

      • Janet Phillips says:

        Understand completely. Unfortunately the validity of a “secret shopper”-type experience is compromised if the company knows they are being evaluated and blogged about – especially by someone with your credentials & internet reach. Appreciate the info you provided about Panstoria’s lay-flat books. I haven’t seen an update on their hardcover books – originally you stated that you would not print h/c books with them, only softcover. Is this still your position?

      • Mark Mizen says:

        The hardcover books have a wire stitching. I ran some additional tests which show that the hard cover books have good durability; although it is not quite as good as books with traditional stitching.

  3. Margie Wight says:

    Mark – In your comments about margin differences between SBC 4.0 and Artisan, are you saying that books created in SBC 4.0 will not have the correct margins when printed by Panstoria Print Shop?

    • Mark Mizen says:

      Lay-flat books created in SBC 4.0 will not have the correct margins for printing with Artisan and Panstoria Print Shop. The margins will need to be adjusted to accommodate Panstoria’s requirements. I did not try printing from SBC 4.0, but I would assume the same problem would exist there, as well.

      • Margie Wight says:

        Are you saying that I need to convert my book to Artisan to be able to have it printed correctly? FYI, I have no double-page photos in this book.

  4. Dorothy Huey says:

    Hi Mark, do you have any input about using a book with the following binding? I plan to use for my next photo book but I was wondering about this:
    The PUR perfect binding uses a polyurethane reactive adhesive. The PUR binding offers better adhesive than an EVA (ethylene vinyl acetate) which is used more for stitch binding. The PUR adhesive also offers the bound book to lay flat without compromising the binding strength. The polyurethane allows it to adhere to the UV-cured coating, films as well as to traditional uncoated papers.

    Due to PUR using smaller amounts of adhesive over perfect binding it also means that you can achieve a square spine even on the smallest of books. It is also more durable and flexible once the glue has set.

    • Mark Mizen says:

      Interesting option. I have not seen their books. PUR is an effective adhesive for photo book binding. I did note that Pixingo’s prices are higher than Panstoria’s at least for the 12×12 soft cover photo book.

  5. Barbara says:

    Thank you for explaining how to use the lay flat pages. I love them and think the extra cost is worth it and I hope they find an easier way also. I look forward to reading your blog.

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