- Available with existing Amazon account
- Simple, straightforward online editor
- Various customization options
- Good value for money (hardcover books)
- Free shipping available
- Exhaustive customer support options
- Insufficient amount of covers and sizes
- Pay-only unlimited photo storage
- Slow free shipping
Whether you have read our photo book builder reviews or not, it is very likely that you have placed orders or used the services of Amazon before. The company that started its long-lasting career as an online bookstore now has turned into an ecommerce and cloud computing giant, engaging in many different activities. In September 2016, the company launched a new service that completely flew under the radar other of photo developing giants: Amazon Prints is its name, and it brings us Amazon Photo Books and a range of other printing services and products. As a newcomer, one doesn’t expect anything spectacular from Amazon Photo Books; however, you should judge a (photo) book by its cover. Should you have an Amazon account, you are just one step away from a simple, straightforward online editor with countless customization options regarding pages, backgrounds, embellishments, layouts and more. In Amazon Photo Books you can create high-quality photo books with two different covers for relatively cost-friendly prices and even get them shipped without paying a dime should you satisfy certain conditions.
Once you have selected the type of photo book you want to work on, you are greeted by a very simple, straightforward and eerily familiar online editor with auto-save and undo functions. You can fetch photos from your computer to be uploaded to Amazon Prime Photos, which serves as your primary 5GB photo storage. Prime subscribers have the privilege of making use of the same unlimited storage space they have access to for other Amazon products. However, despite the above limitation, you are eligible to use the Prime Photo Apple/Android app with which you can (automatically) upload your photos from your mobile devices – but still cannot create photo books.
Returning to the editor itself, it features everything you need for creating a quality photo book. You have the option to place your photos the way you want, or use the auto-fill option to save time. Regardless of your choice, you can modify the arrangement of the photos any time, either by selecting a different layout with 20 or more photos, or by adding a new photo to the page by yourself. As for the photos, there is nothing much you can do with them aside from rotating, moving, swapping them, adding different colored borders thereto or creating 2-page spreads. However, if a low-resolution photo is placed into the book or if it’s bigger than the crop line, you get a proper warning. You have the option to do more or less the same with spell-checked texts (aside from swapping and borders), which either come as part of a layout or can be added manually.
When it comes to designs and embellishments, you are in for a treat. You can apply simple colors or more complicated, texture-like backgrounds on selected or all pages. Even though the type of the book’s cover cannot be modified later on, you are allowed to use the design elements of the styles you can select before editing. And if you prefer to make your book look funnier, you will be pleased to hear that the section of the embellishments is a true Canaan.
Like we briefly touched upon before, you have two options when it comes to selecting a design for your photo book. The first option is to simply select one before the commencement of the editing, while the other option is to select a blank photo book and pick a design when the book is already in the works. Regardless of your choice, you can only choose from 14 styles (including the blank one) from two, well-distinguished categories, Featured and Collections.
However, like we said before, designs can be modified later in the editing process, even if you have chosen the style from the simpler Featured category or one from Collections. Design elements (and anything else provided by the editor, for that matter) can be freely added or removed in both cases, giving you complete artistic freedom. Furthermore, you even have the option to replace the preset design with another on one, several or all pages, thus creating a truly unique and literally colorful book.
Because this is completely a newcomer on the photo book builders’ market, selecting the appropriate type of book is relatively easy – mostly because you have two choices regarding cover and only one regarding size. With that said, Amazon photo books can only be purchased in 8×11 size, either with a simple (albeit fully customizable) glossy hardcover or the more prestigious, deluxe matte premium layflat hardcover. Like we mentioned before, this is the only feature you cannot modify during the editing process; in other words, you have to choose your cover carefully, otherwise, you have to start your project all over again.
As for the number of pages an Amazon photo book can have, the minimum amount thereof is 20, while the maximum is a pretty decent 150. However, it is the amount of pictures you can have in a single book that is the most impressive: it is 300 – at least in the case of a regular hardcover photo book.
Pricing & Shipping
In spite of offering a small variety of photo books, Amazon Prints has a decent pricing policy. The regular hardcover 8×11 photo book with the default 20 pages is $19.99, while each additional pair of pages costs $1. The premium layflat cover photo books are much pricier: they cost $44.99 with 20 pages, while adding a pair of extra pages requires an additional $2.
We already mentioned that Amazon Prime Photos storage is limited to 5GB: however, if you subscribe to Amazon Prime for $10.99 per month (with a 30-day free trial included), you get unlimited storage space, plus other extras like 2-day free shipping and access to the refer-a-friend promotion for a $5 discount. However, even non-Prime members can get their shipping fees waived should they allow the company to get the photo book shipped within 8–12 business days; otherwise, shipping within the U.S. is $7 or $13 to get your order delivered within 5–7 and 4–6 business days respectively. And for those who are thinking in gift cards, there is the option to purchase one in the amount of $25, $50, $75, $100 or $150 to be used on all Amazon products.
Since the entire print product section is part of Amazon, you have nothing to worry about when you need help, because you have an entire powerhouse at your service. Even though you have the option to contact the staff via email, phone, live chat (not available for all issues) and social media pages (mainly Facebook and Twitter), the main method of getting help from Amazon is by diving deep into the extremely detailed help page. Here you can find answers to almost any type of question – albeit, the part detailing the use of the photo book building software and the info pages on Amazon Photo Books are pretty brief.
Still, not too many companies can tell that they provide all forms of customer support imaginable. Aside from the options listed above, Amazon has a thriving community with thousands of different forum discussions and even tutorial videos which detail many things, such as how to get a refund should the received product be damaged, wrong or simply unsatisfactory.
Despite being a newcomer, Amazon Photo Books has a great head start. However, regardless of being aided by the powerhouse that is Amazon, it still has some teething problems. Aside from the very little variety regarding sizes and types, the insufficient storage space for non-Prime members is a huge dud which can become even bigger should you use this photo book builder regularly. It is also quite a shame that you cannot change the book’s type while editing, you can do very few things to adjust your photos, and the price of layflat books is ridiculous. Still, you get a pretty decent online editor with many customization options and valuable extras like the auto-save and undo functions. The price of a hardcover book is completely acceptable, you can choose free shipping, but you also have the option to get privileges by paying an extra. Overall, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship…