I'd say look at alternatives first.
The kodak/sharedink/shutterfly/mypublisher/etc. books are all essentially the same thing as the Aperture/iPhoto books with slight variations in cover choices and different design software.
As far as I am aware the only real alternatives for magazine style albums are Asukabook, Digilabs, and Blurb.com. Asukabook is the best, but there isn't any design software. Apple/Aperture and Asukabook announced a partnership back in September but I haven't heard any update on it.
Digilabs books are not as good as Asukabook, but the pages at least have a protective coating. There is not yet any design software for the Mac yet, but supposedly it's coming soon.
I haven't seen the blurb.com books yet, but I've heard they are of the same quality as Asukabook, and they have beta design software for the Mac.
Great information about alternatives. Although Aperture is definitely the best and most professional software, I am not really impressed with the final product. I have learned that it is advisable to order a first print in order to check out color and contrast quality before comitting on larger quantities (5 to 20 books).
blurb.com books have indeed a software. Relatively simple as pictures can't be resized, cropped and arranged on the page in a free way, but for a standard presentation it looks fine. It means preparing all the pictures with photoshop first, long work. Aperture makes it easier. I specially like the "blurb bookstore" concept. There are great books out there...
I ave been very glad to find these posts. I not seen Asukabook or blurb. I found my self fairly disappointed in the end product of my Aperture book. It was not even as good as books I have gotten from iPhoto. I do not know if it is just a lack of quality control or what. In the end they are nothing I wound be conferable selling. I love the bookstore component of blurb and the Asukabooks look good also. But I do love the free form nature of the Aperture. Maybe if Apple could get the quality up the could do an iTune type bookstore for photo books.
Well I have my first order coming in tomorrow (according to Fedex) and I have my fingers crossed.
So far I haven't been able to find any local printers that will print and bind the books at a reasonable cost - best I've found so far is $200 (or more) per book.
Hardly cost effective for my relatively meager budget.
I've explored Asuka a littoe more, and their quality does appear to be superior at first glance, but it seems I am not able to take advantage of submitting my aperture-generated book directly. According to their templates I have to put everything together manually in Photohop. Great for end-control, but one thing that made me pursue this was the ability to generate a book inside Aperture using versions direct from collection (any changes I made to an original image were automatically incorporated in my book. Had I done it all manually, teh time/effort I'd be putting into the book with be well over 5x greater!
I've also looked at shutterfly.com so far - and they seem promising, and am wiating for my colleagues order to go through before I get too excited.
Either way, I hope to have my first printing this week - I'll keep ya posted!
Because the 8.5x11 format used by Aperture/iPhoto/Kodak/MyPublisher/Shutterfly/SharedInk is unique to the printers and processes used by these companies to make these books. You can't use a PDF in an 8.5x11 format and make a square format album with it.
These companies making the 8.5x11 books are also selling a lot of other photography products, so locking you into their software or website makes sense for them. They don't want to be commodity book makers.
What kind of output (size, number of pages, paper stock—metallic prints, quantity of the book order) ?
Do you want a flush-mount style or the coffee-tablebook style on this book?
If this is pre-designed from aperture, there is a workaround. Give me the specs. and I might find a less $200.00 price.
Sharedink has some stock InDesign layouts in their Photographer Program. I downloaded them but never used them.
They have a 45-day free trial so you can try out a book, and they just announced a new 16" x 12" book (XL Keepsake Book), at $99.95 for 20 pages.
Edit - I seem to remember that the issue with InDesign/uploading a pdf is that it defaults to the printing option of including a glued image on the front of the book like their non-pro books. One of the things I like best about Sharedink is having a "clean" cloth cover - I think this will look better in 10- years compared to one with the image falling off.
Mike Franklin has been looking into photo books and has been blogging the result. See this link on my blog for links to his blog:
Yes, I'd agree with that assessment.
I tried a book from the "professional photographers" program for my own use, and felt that I got what I paid for. It wasn't total garbage, but if one was trying to pawn this off on a client who was paying some serious cash I too would feel embarassed. I should also say that a couple of images printed out quite nicely - I guess they just had a gamut that fit well with the print device - while other images were dogs.
I shoot for internal use, and my images generally reside on my hard drive until they see the light of day every couple of years in major projects. So the books were an attempt to show other team members a hint of what was coming down the road.
But people have to be realistic - when spending $50 for a hard-bound 20 page custom book, you can't expect much. Anyone billing clients at market rates will have still have to spend real cash elsewhere to keep them happy.
MBP 2.0, 2GB Mac OS X (10.4.8)