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Shutterfly -vs- RealBooks-Scrapbooks

PrincessCrafts.com and ScrapbookKitsnBits.com digital scrapbooking hardbound scrapbook review images.Hi Scrapbook Friend,

Kathy and I just got our first Shutterfly.com 12x12 Hardbound Scrapbook delivered today.  We uploaded it on Sunday, July 15th, 2007 and we had it delivered today, Saturday, July 21st, 2007. 

Not bad, a one week turn-a-round!

While the overall book and quality is not up to the same quality you get with RealBooks-Scrapbooks, the overall quality is good and should last many years to come if taken care of.

We did like the ease of creating the Shutterfly Hardbound Scrapbook, especially the ease of uploading the completed pages... Hi-Speed Internet is a must here.  There were only a few minor things that their detailed instructions didn’t cover and that we had to figure out on our own.  But, we’ll talk more about that in just a few minutes.

First, let’s go over why we weren’t impressed with the book's over all quality.

I want to say right up front that the quality of the printed images and the glossy custom cover were wonderful.  We absolutely loved the look and feel of the 12x12 hardbound book itself. 

The images and colors were right on the mark and stunning!

But, the binding process they use probably won’t hold up well if the book is viewed on a regular basis.

Here’s an example of what I mean…

Hardbound 12x12 scrapbook binding example from a book printed by Shutterfly.com.As you can clearly see in this macro image I took, the Shutterfly page binding is only attached to the paper backing and is actually separated from the spine.  This is pretty common in most inexpensive book binding processes.  Eventually, the pages will come loose from wear and the entire binding can come out of the cover completely.  With proper care, this should be many, many years from now though.  Just don’t give the book to a young child to look at unattended.

RealBooks-Scrapbooks.com quality hardbound scrapbook binding example in 12x12 format.On the other hand, as you can clearly see, the RealBooks-Scrapbooks page binding is securely bound to all the pages and to the spine creating as strong a link as possible.  You can actually take the RealBooks-Scrapbooks hardbound scrapbook and open it until the two parts of the cover actually touch one another and the binding will not separate or be damaged.  This process will last many times longer than the process used by Shutterfly.  This is real archival quality.

You can click on any of the images above for the full size view if you need it.

PrincessCrafts Digital Scrapbook Hardbound Scrapbook made by <a target=What we liked about Shutterfly’s Hardbound Scrapbooks:

What we really liked, was the ease at which you are able to upload your images to Shutterfly’s server.  Talk about easy…

Here’s the first of the things we had to figure out on our own though.

First, you need to set up an account.  That’s not too hard and has many advantages… such as sharing your photo’s with family and friends with easy links.

Then, you need to create a new album to save the images in or choose one you already have set up to add to.  That wasn’t too hard either.

Now…

Just download a small module to install with your Internet Browser, browse to where your images are, select all the ones you want to upload and press the get photo’s button.  Then, just sit there and watch as it grabs up to 3 images at a time and uploads them one-by-one to their server.

It’s that easy.

Here's how we start to set up our scrapbook project.  You choose the Shutterfly Store option, then the products menu and finally the Photo Books option.

Now, you choose your size.  In our case we chose the 12x12 Memory Book option.  So, we pressed the Go button under the 12x12 image and description. 

Now came another of the have to figure it out on your own steps.  Under the big picture of all the changing books, there’s a small light green label that says Choose an occasion.  It’s defaulted to General.  You need to press the little down arrow and choose the “Print your digital scrapbook” option.

Once you select the new option, you’ll see the blank book and it will show you the prices.  Currently: $54.99 for the first 20 pages (more on what that includes in a minute) and $1.50 per page over 20.  Let’s talk about price and what you get in a few minutes, right now, let’s finish getting our project ready for order.

We press the Get Started button…

This brings us to a style page that we don’t need to do anything with, as we have no text to worry about.  Everything is a part of our images, so we just continue by pressing the “Next” button.

If you have taken too long to get there or have not signed in yet, it will ask you to sign in.  Otherwise, we end up at the title page. 

This is where we found out we needed a title page as you cannot just start with two page layouts.  This is also were we found out we still had to choose the images from one or more of our albums before we could start placing images on pages.

One note:  The instructions told us to turn off a couple of options for doing a scrapbook.  We never found out where to do that and assume that they now have them set correctly when you choose the scrapbook option in the menu to start.   Shutterfly needs to update their instructions for the new process.My Blurry 2 page hardbound scrapbook layout from PrincessCrafts Digital Scrapbooks.

So, we had to go get our images.

Just press the little blue Get pictures button and it takes you to your albums.  Choose an album and select the images that you want in your hardbound scrapbook.

Don’t look in the images window or at the bottom for the button to actually add them into your project.  If you choose the return to edit pages option before actually adding them via the button in the upper right, you’ll have to come back and do it again.  We found that one out the hard way too.

Now that you have added your photo’s to your project, you see them in the bottom of the work area ready to use.

BUT, YOU'RE NOT READY TO ADD THEM TO YOUR SCRAPBOOK YET!

First, you have to select a background style for each page.  If it doesn’t say Drop Picture Here on the page, you can’t put the images on the page. 

I had to click on each page one at a time and press the “Full Page” option, the one that is totally gray with no writing several times most of the time to get it to take. 

Use the dashed bar at the top or the forward/backward arrows to move through the blank pages.  Once you get to page 2 and 3 (your first two page layout), the page options menu has more types to choose from and you’ll have to scroll about half way down to find the full page style. 

WARNING: The gray ones at the top have writing associated with them, so be careful.  Also, the menu option that says "Apply to all pages" that you'll find at the bottom of the Page options menu once you get to page 2 didn’t work for me.  It didn't work in any of the projects I created using Windows 2000 or Windows XP.  I had to select each page one at a time with lots of clicks to get it to take.

The good news:

Now that we have all our pages set up, all you do is to drag and drop your images where you want them. 

One other little nitpicky item… I had to click on some of the images to enlarge them before placing them in the book as the thumbs don’t have labels and sometimes were out of order.  Shutterfly needs to add titles (file names) to the thumbnail images so we know which page is which.  Either that or make the thumbnails bigger so we can see more detail.

To add a new page once you get to the end of the 20, you use the add button on the Page options menu… also hard to find but easy to use once you do find it.

If you want all your two page layouts to show, you have to add at least one more page (at $1.50 each) since the title page is mandatory and counts as page one of your 20 allowed.  Not very sporting in my book to end the default book on the left hand page forcing most people to include at least one extra page.

We continue...

After you have all your pages in place, you press the next button in the upper right again and it takes you to the custom cover design. 

Same as with the pages, you need to set up the full page styles first, then just drop your back cover, front cover and spine graphics in place and you’re ready for preview and order.

We used PaintShop Pro and the PhotoShop templates that Shutterfly provided to create the cover and spine images before we uploaded them.  That way we knew that they would be the right size and the images and text would all show properly.  We also used the template to check each of our pages, although the standard 12x12 at 300 dpi saved to a high quality .jpg file was all that was needed for the pages.

The covers were another story and without their templates, I’m not sure things would have turned out as well as they did.

Shutterfly needs to create more template options as not all programs will accept the PhotoShop versions.  They do give you the measurements in the instructions, so you can create your own template if you need to.  But, that's another story.

PrincessCrafts hardbound scrapbook title page image in 12x12 digital scrapbook layout format.So, the books reviewed and we were ready to order.  Let’s go into pricing now.

As a review, we said that Shutterfly was currently: $54.99 for the first 20 pages and $1.50 per page over 20 for the 12x12 book.

Then, just to compare, RealBooks-Scrapbooks is $67.00 for the first 40 pages and currently 60 cents a page after the first 40 pages and the title page doesn’t count as one of your 40 pages. 

So, let’s see how that works out on a 40 page book (20 two page layouts, custom cover and title page).

Shutterfly would charge $54.99 for the first 20 pages and they count the title page as page one.  So, that’s only 9.5 two page layouts.  Then at $1.50 per page for the rest of the 10.5 two page layouts or 21 pages, that would be another $31.50 for a grand total of $86.49 plus tax and shipping.

RealBooks-Scrapbooks would charge $67.00 for the first 40 pages including a separate title page and custom cover.  That means that for the same project at RealBooks-Scrapbooks, you will only pay the standard $67.00 plus tax (Colorado only), plus shipping.  A savings of $19.49.  And, at 60 cents per page verses $1.50 a page, the savings go up drastically from there. 

So, let’s sum it all up…

Shutterfly has a very easy process that, while not totally intuitive, is easy enough to figure out and once you’ve done one, you have the process down pat.  The images and photo quality is a 10 out of 10 and you can’t beat the fast turn-around times.

On the other hand, they charge a premium price for less than a premium binding process and I doubt that they’ll hold up under normal wear and tear.  You’ll really need to treat them like a true family treasure and be careful when viewing the pages over time.

While RealBooks-Scrapbooks process isn’t near as easy, although those of you on dial-up will greatly appreciate the fact you can put your images on CD or DVD and send it in with a printed order form to get it done… the RealBooks process does take a little more getting use to.  It’s not hard, just different.

But, the quality and price of a RealBooks-Scrapbooks hardbound scrapbook is far superior to Shutterfly.  The bigger your books are, and you can go up to 200 pages… the more you’ll save over anyone else in the world.  The best part is the RealBooks quality.  The binding is the best in the industry and will stand up to the normal wear and tear over generations to come.

Kathy and I would pay a good amount extra for the RealBooks Hardbound Scrapbook just so we know it will last.  It’s just nice that we also save money using them.

Final analysis:

If you are in a hurry and it doesn’t need to stand up to a lot of wear over time… then you can pay extra at Shutterfly to get it in a hurry.  You’ll be very pleased with the photo’s and colors.

If you need something that will stand up through generations of wear, if you want to get the best price around and you don’t mind waiting a few days more…

Then talk to the folks at RealBooks-Scrapbooks.com.  They’ll give you all the support you need and you will end up with a book that is the best the industry has to offer at a price you won’t beat anywhere.

Oh yes... almost forgot.  You'll love their colors and print quality as well! 

That’s how it goes… happy scrappin’

Kathy and Wes