- Various top-tier covers
- Free online photo book
- Versatile customer support
- No extra charge for better paper/cover
- Fast shipping time
- Gift vouchers available with samples
- Overcomplicated editor
- Limited customization options
- Expensive pricing
Most photo book providers are trying to stay afloat in the ocean of similar companies by offering customers cost-friendly products but, let’s face it, sometimes the quality of these products are far from ideal. This is why MILK Books, from New Zealand, strive to gain new clientele by offering a smaller range of products – such as photo books, albums, canvases, frames and more – but only at the highest quality. And since there are also plenty of temporary coupons and discounts for all clients, there’s plenty of reasons to consider MILK Books. There’s even an option to send a gift voucher with samples to help the receiver make the best decision.
So when it comes to photo books, you’ll be looking at the best options – such as its choice of covers, which can be made of linen, Wibalin or Buckram. MILK photo books come with up to 24 photos per spread, and can be printed on a selection of paper quality types as well. Want something more special though? Well, then consider the company’s most prestigious product range, Moleskine books that will encase your most cherished photos with covers that look like true artistic masterpieces.
Quick Tutorial on the MILK Books Editor
Even though MILK Books promises high-quality products, the only option to create photo books is the rather bland online editor. But even before the actual building process begins you’ll need to determine the book’s main attributes, namely its type, size, format, paper quality, page count, and cover style. Some of these attributes can be modified later on, but only the cover and the paper type can be changed directly from within the editor.
The editor itself is advertised as being rather simple to use, but instead of a straightforward solution we found a photo book builder with limited capabilities and a rather frustrating user experience, especially for newcomers to such tools.
Thankfully, turning to the tutorial videos (which are available directly from the software) helps a lot: in fact, it was by watching one of these videos that we learned that pictures must be arranged in the correct order manually before they are put into the book. Granted, there is the option to arrange the photos into order you prefer later on – when they’re displayed in the toolbar at the bottom of the editor – but it’s quite the task.
Speaking of which, that section is more important than it might first seem. Dragging and dropping one photo only creates a two-page spread containing the chosen picture, so the only way to have more photos (up to 24) on the spread – or to simply create a new pair of pages – is by going to the lower toolbar, moving the cursor to the space between two photos and left-clicking when the two thick lines appears between this space. It’s a bothersome, cumbersome means of adding pages, and not user-friendly at all.
However, while customizing pages is indeed frustrating, with some practice it can be learned – which isn’t necessary for many other features of the software, which are self-explanatory and easy to use.
For instance, choosing the appropriate layout can be done either by selecting one on the left panel or by hitting page up or down on the keyboard. Pages can be flipped and their order rearranged, while text boxes can be hidden or revealed and fonts changed. Interestingly, it’s possible to also create text-only spreads.
Helpfully MILK Books’s tool has a so-called checklist, which warns of low-resolution photos, empty text boxes and whether the book has reached the minimum or maximum number of pages.
It’s hard to talk about design, as all books created with the company’s software are bland by default and have to be designed by the user. But even with that in mind the design options are limited to choosing a layout for the book’s pages and cover, with the latter being the only design-related attribute that can be preset before starting the building process.
As already mentioned, switching between different layouts is easy as pie – especially with the help of a keyboard’s keypad – but as more pictures are added to a single two-page spread, the less layout variety the software offers. As these layouts are all preset, there is no option to customize them to your liking – except for the mundane removal of text boxes.
And when it comes to text, the options for choosing a suitable font are equally miserable. By default only two fonts can be selected, not to mention the fact that their size is fixed most of the time. As a result, the only way to truly customize the photo book is by toying around with options like size, format, paper type, and cover.
Considering the extremely limited nature of the software’s design capabilities, the variety of photo book types available at MILK is a breath of fresh air – even if those options are heavily dependent on the chosen book.
For instance, the default product, MILK Classic, is only available in landscape format and in one of two sizes – both of which can be customized with seven different covers. MILK Premium, however, is available in all three shapes (square, landscape and portrait), provides 14 different covers (linen, Wibalin and Buckram types), and comes with four papers. As for the special Moleskine books, these are produced in four sizes, in three shapes with the namesake cover and comes with the top-tier paper type.
It’s important to note that MILK Classic and Premium books must contain at least 40 pages, but nor can they exceed 120 and 160 pages respectively. Not only that but books can only be printed if the total amount of pages can be divided by four, which is why extra pages can only be bought in four-page bulks. The only exception to this rule are certain Moleskine products which have fixed pages.
Regardless of what you think about the editor so far, there is one thing that you should be sure of: the resulting printed photo book more than makes up for the frustration of the building experience.
Touching the linen covered book for the first time after removing it from its paper wrapping immediately creates a feeling of the highest quality, but it’s not just surface deep too. Just as much care and professionalism is taken with the contents of the book, which really makes the service of MILK Books shine through.
One thing that will definitely surprise many customers is the fact that pages are stitched together instead of glued, meaning that – with the exception of the flyleaves – pages more or less lay flat when the book is fully opened.
Another surprise is how smooth the matte photo paper feels and how well it resists fingerprints, ensuring that photos – although appearing a bit dimmer than those printed onto the default semi-glossy papers – will last dirt-free and in top condition for many years. The only slight nuisance is that some of the pages stick together, but thankfully it’s only a minor issue and doesn’t damage the photos at all.
And as a nice extra – which shows how gracious MILK Books is for each customer – the cardboard box hides a voucher that entitles you to purchase a new MILK photo product with 10% off.
Cost-friendly pricing is not the forte of MILK Books, since even its cheapest product costs a shocking $57. Worse than that, though, is if you consider that the most common book size starts from $77, since these are exclusive to the MILK Premium category of products. However, these higher-quality books do maintain this price even after selecting different covers or paper type.
The thing that raises the price tag the most – aside from the size of the book – is the number of pages, since every additional four-page set costs $1 for MILK Classic books and $1.25 for MILK Premium products.
There is also the option to add text to the book’s cover for $15 or order the printed book with a matching presentation box, the price of which starts from $49. As for shipping within the U.S., books are shipped for $14.99-$19.99, while each additional copy costs an extra $6.99-$12.99 on top.
There are some opportunities to reduce these high prices, though, thanks to many coupons and discounts, most of which are temporary. However, there are permanent discounts, too, such as receiving a free online copy of each book created with MILK Books’ services. Additionally, MILK provides online or printable gift certificates that – as a special offer – can be purchased with a complete swatch book gift set to give a little taster of the MILK quality.
Support & Shipping
MILK Books’ staff is available every day of the week via phone, live chat and email. All contact methods can be used to notify the company of a faulty product (within 14 days of receiving the order), in which case you will be entitled to receive a new, corrected copy – but only if the mistake was made by MILK Books and not by yourself during the design process.
The company does maintain its own blog, too, but it offers very little of interest, while its social media channels are mostly used for self-promotion and little else. If you really need help then it’s a good idea to turn to their very detailed support center, which contains different topics related to the editor, the vouchers, ordering, printing, and such.
As for shipping, the time between ordering the product and having it delivered to your doorstep is mostly taken up by the production time of 7-12 days for smaller books and between 14-21 days when it comes to larger products. However, delivery time from the Hong Kong production facility is surprisingly short as MILK Books relies on the reliable worldwide services of DHL, which means shipping takes only 3-5 business days, regardless of the country the customer resides in.
As for the book that we ordered from MILK, these predicted times regarding production and shipping time are trustworthy; our 8×8 40-page linen cover book was put together within nine days and arrived to our chosen European destination only three days later – a total of 12 calendar days. If you’re thinking of ordering from MILK Books and are a little concerned about the delivery time, then you needn’t worry in this regard.
Even though MILK Books undoubtedly creates top-notch products, we have to say that we expected more from this photo book company. The online editor is nothing spectacular and, worse than that, is unfortunately not so easy to use. Aside from the truly amazing variety of covers, sizes and formats, there are few ways to customize MILK photo books .
The rather expensive prices could have been offset by the coupons and discounts, but these are limited in number and are only temporary. This is true of MILK Books competitors, too, but it feels as though they should be doing more to convince potential customers when their prices are so high.
Still, the editor has some nice features, such as its checklist, the in-built video tutorials and the ability to easily switch between different layouts. Being able to create two-page spreads with up to 24 photos per spread is also a nice addition, and admittedly extra pages can be purchased for a relatively cheap price.
The wide variety of top-notch covers and paper types is something that needs praising, while the resulting books definitely deliver the quality that MILK Books is known for. So if you want something special made out of high quality materials, then you may want to consider MILK as your new trusty photo book editor.