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.
My 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.
Unfortunately, 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.