Lulu Photo Book Review and Giveaway *This Week Only*

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.

1. Options
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.

Traveling to southern Italy? Click here to see how I can help you plan your trip to Calabria or southern Italy.

16 Responses
  1. I love photography! I would absolutely make a photobook of all my shots of Rome since I moved and started my Roman Adventure ๐Ÿ™‚

    That would be a great book!

  2. Um, maybe an album of wedding pictures for us. I made two books for the parents and inlaws but still haven’t gotten around to doing one for us.
    Or all my favorite travel photos.

    You are as bad as me about those wedding pics, aren’t you?

  3. Yes! I am dreaming of a book about Stromboli…
    and the another of my daughter’s big fat Sicilian wedding…..
    and then another of her Questura wedding(same husband)….
    and onward…..

    Ha … sounds like (a lot of) fun projects!

  4. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m excited about the Zazzle gift card! I love photo books. I used to do more scrapbooking type books, but recently started with photo books. It looks so much more professional. Almost like a guide book ๐Ÿ™‚ Too bad you can’t add your keepsakes. Anyways, I think my next photo book would be about my upcoming trip to Europe: France, Germany, Italy. I’m leaving in a few days and am really excited!

    Buon Viaggio!

  5. I’m working on a couple of photo books from recent vacations. The “books” are still in my head, so this would make them a reality!

    Oooh, fun. I’ve been thinking of doing one from our honeymoon in Belize… yes, from three years ago! ha

  6. Laura

    I have used Lulu for calendars (and they do a wonderful job) but I used another company for a recent book of our 2010 trip to Spain. I have been really disappointed with the finished product – photos that were not fit to the size of the space, even though the preview suggested they were, no title on the cover, etc. It was nearly $50 so I won’t be doing another one. If I won the Lulu book I would do another edition of our 2010 trip to Spain. But, whether I win or not… I love your blog, so thank you!

    Ugh, I hate to hear that. How disappointing. Good luck with the contest and thanks for reading MBV!

  7. I’d love to do a photo book of our current travels! We are on a 7 month trip through Turkey, Italy, & Spain, with some short stays in Greece and Egypt. We have LOTS of good pics!

    Sounds like you are gonna need more than one book!

  8. ekc

    Thanks for another great post! I would love to do a photo book of our last two trips to Italy as gifts for my impossible-to-buy-for in-laws!

    How fun! I bet they’d love that!

  9. stpehanie gore

    I would love to check out LuLu based on your blog description. We took loads of photos on our last Italy trip this past September. Mostly scenic views and those really neat door knockers you see everywhere! We hope to enlarge, print and frame some and also a photo book sounds like a fabulous idea.
    Ahhh to live in Calabria, one day my dream will come true in the small city of Ciro on the Ionian Sea.

    I hope you make it back soon, Stephanie!

  10. Marcia Patitucci Waffner

    I love your emails and LOVE Italia! With roots in Calabria, you bring me HOME! Grazie!

    Yea… you made my day! Thanks for coming by.

  11. Bodach

    I’ve used Lulu for my 2011 Abruzzo charity calendar in aid of the Italian Red Cross. I’ve sold copies around the world and have only heard positive comments from buyers. I like to think some of the credit is due to my photographs but unless the printing is of a good standard you’re in trouble.

    All the feedback I’ve received indicates Lulu has done a great job.

    (Note: Please feel free to delete the next part of my comment if you feel it’s not appropriate for your blog.)

    If you are interested in seeing the calendar you can find it here

    Not at all … thanks for including your link! I’m happy to hear you like Lulu, too!

  12. Diego

    I have a friend who published a book dedicated to his son filled with life lessons and photos with Lulu. I would most likely make one of my photos to Italy!

    Can’t go wrong there!

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