About a month ago I was contacted by an intern from Lulu who asked if I was interested in creating and reviewing one of their new photo books. And what timing … .You see, as luck would have it, I’d already started brainstorming Christmas gift ideas and creating a souvenir photo book of my nephew’s summer vacation in Calabria topped that list.
So, yes. I accepted. Even though Lulu couldn’t ship to Italy, they agreed to let me create a photo book for my nephew and I waited to write the review until after my mother had received and critically examined the book.
I’ve divided my review of the book-making process and final product into five categories and as you’ll see from my notes, I thoroughly enjoyed the project.
A few years ago I created a photo book through one of Lulu’s competitor sites and so it makes sense that as I built this book, I instinctively compared the two sites. While Lulu has hundreds of options, ranging from size of book, hardcover vs. paperback, number of pages, over 20 themes, cover designs and inside layouts, I felt like I had more control over individual pages with the other site.
That being said, Lulu has more than enough options to keep you browsing for hours and since I had a self-imposed time line for completing this project, I appreciated the simplicity.
2. Ease of Creating Photo Book
Speaking of simplicity, one of the most time-consuming aspects to creating a photo book is uploading your photos. Lulu takes the stress out of this by allowing their users to upload photos directly from Flickr, Facebook, Photobucket or SmugMug. If you don’t have a photo account with any of these sites, you can also upload photos directly from your computer.
The “Lulu Studio” software automatically saves your work, so you don’t have to worry about spending hours on the project and then losing it and you can easily “undo” or “redo” photo placement as you progress through the project.
You can also quickly change the size, theme or number of pages, allowing you to play around with the design or change your mind without losing your work.
3. Customer Service / Shipping
While it isn’t exactly “personal” customer-service oriented, I love that their software warns you if your photo won’t print well. Additionally, I had a great experience with the intern I worked with on my photo book. She contacted me immediately when she learned of a shipping hiccup (FedEx, not them), contacted FedEx with an updated address and the book was delivered the next day.
She also included a personal thank you note with my order, which I loved. I’m a sucker for details.
4. Price / Value
The books are less than $20.00 for a 8.5X8.5 square hardcover book with 20 pages. This is about 25% less than I paid for the last photo book I ordered and from what I hear-thanks, Mom!-it is better quality.
5. Final Product
As I mentioned earlier, I had to rely on a third-party inspector to scrutinize the final product and compare it to the last photo book I made … and she loved it. The photos were clean and crisp, the cover page was classy and “expensive-looking,” … her words, not mine and she highly recommends them to anyone in the market for a new photo book.
So … are you in the market for a new photo book? If so, you are in luck. Not only did Lulu ask me to create a photo book, but they are also giving away one 20-page 8.5X8.5 square photo book to a My Bella Vita reader. Here are the contest rules:
1. Leave a comment on *this post* by Friday, December 17 at noon, Italy time. Your comment can be anything, but I’d really love to know what kind of photo book you’d create if you win.
2. Tweet the contest for an additional entry and leave a separate comment telling me you did.
3. Repost and/or “like” this post on Facebook for a third entry and leave a separate comment telling me you did.
4. A random drawing will be held on Friday afternoon and the winner will be notified so (s)he can begin working on their photo book before the holidays.
The book can only be shipped to a US address.
In bocca al lupo and Happy Holidays!
** Congratulations to Sabrina Sattler for winning the $25 gift certificate to Daryll Capparelli’s ItalianThings store at Zazzle.
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