This is the fourth installment of my photo book service review. I hope you have had as fun reading them as I have had reviewing them. As I mentioned at the series start, my goal was to do four reviews and then by judging the response, perhaps do four more. Well this is where you, the audience, come in. Let me know if these reviews were useful, informative and fun, and whether you have any stories to tell. Have you done other printing projects – Prints, calendars, mugs, etc? Let us know how they turned out.

Company: Kodak
Binding: Hard
Size: 9 x 10.25 (landscape) other sizes and bindings available
Cost: $29.99 (matte, linen), $34.99 (martha stewart), $39.99 (leather)
Added Pages: $1.99 (2 pages)
Shipping: $6.99 via USPS
Max Pages: 100 (double sided)
Layout Software: Website

I’m sure you won’t be shocked to discover that this web application is very similar to the one offered by Snapfish. Also, that you need to signup for a free account and upload your pictures before starting your project. However, there are some differences worth noting. There is an iPhoto plugin that allows you to upload images straight from iPhoto. Also there is a desktop application called Ofoto that allows drag and drop from iPhoto or the hard drive. Lastly, there is Kodak’s EasyShare software that allows you to both create projects (though not books) as well as upload photos. So many choices! This is a much easier process than Snapfish for Leopard users.

Once the images are uploaded, you can use the online wizard to guide you through the setup process, allowing you to choose the book, cover, single-sided or double-sided printing, background, and Autofill or manual image layout. Whoa! Definite do not do autofill here… While it does allow you to choose the number of images per page and keeps the page count pretty low (I got 24 pages), it doesn’t seem to know the difference between horizontal and vertical images and will throw the pictures willy-nilly into frames that may not be orientated properly (and only in order of uploading). So far there seems to be no intelligent automation of this process that would suit me or you, I’m sure.

Backgrounds and borders can’t be changed per page. Backgrounds and borders can’t be seen in Edit view, only in Preview. You can rotate, zoom, move, and remove the image within the photo frame. Not all layouts are available in all page designs, why, I don’t know. The results of which may mess up the position of your photos if you decide to switch between them so review your pages after you switch. I think there were 3 layouts not available between the page designs I swapped between. There is no marking/hiding of used photos. Like Snapfish, the web app runs smoothly, constantly shows you book style, color, number of pages and current cost. I do like that if you are working within a budget.

Alright now to the nitty gritty. The book arrived in a Kodak-branded cardboard box, in a similar cellophane envelope to iPhoto. The suede like material has a nice feel. There is no printing on the cover or spine, no slip cover. There is a diecut in the cover as well, but the preferrable thing to Snapfish’s version is that it has a vellum sheet to protect the photo. There are white end papers and a Kodak logo on the back page. Color reproduction is good, paper has a nice feel and the contrast is also good. Again, wasted space due to non-existant captions. There are some mirrored layouts, but no caption-less pages, no page numbers, no header and footers. I would have like to have used some of the more stylish backgrounds, but they didn’t have the same layouts that I wanted to use. Oh well.

So, who is the winner? Out of the four I reviewed, iPhoto is by far the best at layout, purchasing and has so many of the details that the others overlooked, it’s hard not to make that #1. Out of the others, it’s a mixed bag depending on what you are looking for. If simply the most bang for the buck, go with Blurb and its 40 page book. If you are looking for good software and good layouts, go with Snapfish. Kodak’s product has promise, but the software is a major block to choosing it. There are four more services I reviewed that are included in the spreadsheet.

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