By Tracey Dowdy
Remember the fun of flipping through family albums reminiscing over holidays and parties, or laughing over bad haircuts and questionable fashion choices? Sure, you can scroll through photos online thanks to cloud-based storage like Google Photos, Livedrive, or Amazon Photos. Still, there’s something transformative about physically holding an album in your hands.
The one good thing to come out of the coronavirus lockdown is when many of us have added back into our schedule, so there’s no time like the present to get those photos organized and into a photo book.
Probably the best known is Shutterfly, a site that does everything from photobooks to wallpaper. It offers free, unlimited storage and will never delete your photos, so you have plenty of time to sort through all those years of photos. You can choose from templates, or use Simple Path, a tool that automatically lays out your photos but allows you to rearrange, decorate, and add captions to customize your book. Pre-tax, an 8- by 11-inch 20-page hardcover photo book costs about $40 before shipping and tax, but they almost always have a sale or coupon available, so look for deals before you order.
Suppose you’re looking for more design choices. In that case, Snapfish offers dozens of templates and themes like Moments with Mom, Grad Nostalgia, Family Farmhouse, Summer Snapshots that extends through their catalog of products – think aprons, mugs, calendars, photo tiles – so it’s easy to create a unique and themed gift. You can add photos manually, and if you’re unhappy with your design, it’s easy to swap out the background or theme. The price is similar to Shutterfly, with an 8- by 11-inch hardcover 20-page photo book for $40. And, like Shutterfly, they continuously run deals, so be on the lookout for special offers.
Walmart may not be the first name to come into your mind when you think of high-quality photo books, but you may be pleasantly surprised. Their site allows you to upload digital photos from your computer, social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Dropbox, or Google Photos, but there are fewer editing options than Snapfish or Shutterfly. They allow you to add stickers, but customization is limited compared to other sites.
Google Photos is the most stripped-down choice on this list with a minimalist, plain white background with the option to caption your photos. Google will format a book based on your uploaded albums, or you can customize it by choosing an album you already made. If you want a more creative look, Google Photos has editing options within its app that allows you to add filters. A 9×9 photo book costs $20 before shipping, and each additional page costs 65 cents. If you’re looking for something less expensive, a softcover 7×7 book costs $10, and it’s 35 cents for each additional page.
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits, and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.