A Tale of Two Reprints

Photo Book with correctly printed cover (top) and with white line on the right edge of the cover (bottom)

Shutterfly offers an automatic photo book creation process. I created my photo book but when it was time to order, I suffered a case of severe case of photo book sticker shock. No problem. I could easily wait to place my order until the next suitable sale. This sale came in the middle of August when Shutterfly ran an unlimited free extra pages sale.

Right side of front cover

I placed my order on August 14 with high expectations, and in about a week I received my book. I saw the book and was immediately disappointed. Where I intended for a photo to wrap around the cover, I saw only a white edge. My first thought was that I had screwed up and failed to properly place my cover photo. I went back into Shutterfly’s site and convinced myself that the problem was, in fact, not my fault. Shutterfly had failed to allow sufficient space on the edges of the cover for wrapping the cover around the edges.

I called up Shutterfly the next day and was assured by the customer service agent that Shutterfly would reprint my book correctly. I had my doubts because I could not understand how reprinting would address the fact that the printed cover simply was not long enough to wrap around the book, but I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and let them reprint the book. I also took this opportunity to correct about a dozen photos that had printed too dark in the original book.

I’m sure you can guess what happened next. I received my book back with the same white line on the edges of the cover. Time to contact Shutterfly again. This time I escalated the problem and was able to reach someone who understood the problem and was able to edit the original file and fix the underlying problem. I received my photo book today, and I love the results.

I ordered my book with the hinged lay-flat pages and professional 6-color printing. Printing is high-quality and the text is sharp. The binding was well-done, although I will also note that the first two books had minor imperfections in the binding process. One of the books had a defect apparent at the top of the spine, and the other was missing some adhesive between the book block and the end sheet. I’m not sure if I would have returned the books for these reasons, but it didn’t really matter because of the cover defect.

Binding defect (left) and missing adhesive (right)

If a photo book has a problem, insist that the company fix the problem That’s what I did with Shutterfly, and I am glad I did. I could have lived with the initial book, but I would have always been disappointed. Now I have a photo book that I really like.

Shutterfly has also promised to fix the problem with their design software that led to a white line appearing on my cover, so hopefully nobody else will encounter the same problem.

Overall, I was impressed enough with Shutterfly’s photo book creation process and with the resulting book that I am planning to order from them again.


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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