- Easy-to-use editor
- Various photo upload options
- High quality, customizable leather covers
- Default layflat pages
- Cost-friendly shipping
- Generous returns and refund policy
- Limited customization options
- Expensive base prices
- Badly advertized discounts and coupons
If an image processing and printing solution provider wants to stand out, there are plenty of ways of doing that. The company either has outstanding pricing policy, a wide variety of sizes, themes, covers, papers etc., or it uses high quality materials to bring the photo book of your dreams to life. Montage, owned by the same company behind Mixbook, is the latter: if you order from this site, you can be sure that you will receive a fantastic end product. All books, available in 4 square shaped sizes, are covered in real leather and your photos are printed on layflat pages made out of two types of papers. In the simple editor you can change the layout of your photo book, choose from over a dozen backgrounds, and make simple adjustments to your photos. Once you have placed your order, your books are shipped within 2–3 weeks for cost-friendly prices, but if you are not satisfied you can send your books back without a reason.
Montage’s photo book editor has a major pro and con: its simplicity. When you use the software you’ll be glad how convenient its handling is. But when you want to make adjustments on your photos or in the book in general, your hands unfortunately are tied.
Creating a book requires three major steps. The first step is adding photos to your book, which you can upload from your computer or from your Facebook, Flickr, Dropbox, Instagram, SmugMug, Google Picasa or Amazon Cloud Photo account. After the upload the program warns you if a picture wouldn’t look good in printed form, and offers you to delete or keep it. A huge downside of this photo uploading step is that each time you start a new project you are required to do it all over again.
Then you have to choose the theme of your book after which you are finally taken to the editor. There your photo book awaits you in a ready-to-order state thanks to the auto-filling feature of the software. Moreover, you still have the option to change the order of your photos and put them wherever you want manually. Aside from changing the photo’s order, zooming and rotating them in 90° angles, moving them inside the frames, adding/removing them from the pages and shuffling them on the front cover, you cannot do anything else with your pictures. Furthermore, if you want to make your book special by, for instance, creating a unique layout, you are prohibited from doing that either; all layouts of Montage are preset. The places of the text boxes are also preset and they only change their positions if you change the layouts. And if you were planning to write short novels accompanying your photos, forget it: each text box can contain up to 120 characters only.
If you want further adjustments, you can always change the theme of your book, add/remove pages (respecting their limits) and even get two previews of the front cover of your book to see how it will look in real life.
If you like photo book editors that allow you to choose from countless themes and let you customize your book the way you want, then unfortunately Montage is not your choice. The first problem is that none of the designs are shown on the main page of the company, so the only way to get to know them is by starting to create a book. The second problem is the number of the themes: there are only 17 of them. The third problem is that if you want something a bit more unique, you cannot combine themes with each other or have a book with completely blank pages where you can change the background, the layouts and such.
There are some pros, though: the 17 themes look rather professional and they could make your photos stand out in a spectacular way. And, like we mentioned before, if you are not satisfied with the style you have chosen, you can always modify it while you are still editing your book.
There are not too many varieties in the types and covers of photo books either. However, all books are covered in top-notch real leather imported from Italy with a high-density foam underneath for a soft touch. Another thing that is common with all types of books is that the leather cover can be customized with your photos and with a text box. Aside from that, all books have at least 20 thick layflat pages by default adding to the quality of the products.
In Montage there are four sizes available, each of them coming in a square shape: 6×6, 8×8, 10×10 and 12×12. However, it is not only the size that can make a photo book differ from the others; you also have the option to change the type of paper your photos are printed on. By default the photo finish is a silk semi-glossy one, but you can order your books with photos printed on Fujifilm Crystal Archive papers for a truly spectacular look.
As Montage works with high-quality materials, the company’s products are rather expensive. A simple 6×6 book is already $29.00 (without discounts), while an 8×8 size book costs $49.00. Furthermore, if you want your photos to be printed on top quality photo paper, you have to add at least $20 to your order’s total, which gradually increases by $10 if you choose bigger-sized products. Another extra you can order is the gift box, which is $9 per product. The price tag of additional pages is not bad: you can add new pages (up to 80) to your book for at least $1 per page which has to be doubled if you choose your product with the better photo paper. Shipping, which requires 7–8 business days within the U.S., is simple: take the size of your book (i.e. 6×6) and that will be the cost of shipping ($6.00) for the first book.
As for discounts and coupons, Montage has a rather strange policy: discounts are automatically added to your sum total at the end of each purchase (like a 25% discount during our test), while temporary coupons are typically sent via email without leaving traces on the company’s website.
Support & Shipping
The support options of Montage are very bland: if you need help you can either send an email, or you can start a live chat when the service is available. Other than that you can watch brief tutorial videos and read a nice FAQ where you can find the prices of each product, and information regarding payments, shipping and how to create your books. This is also the place where you can learn one of the most generous refund policies of the photo book editors’ market: should you have any problem with the book, whether it was damaged or you made a mistake, you can send the book back to Montage within 90 days and the company will send you a new copy, no questions asked.
Like we mentioned before the price of shipping equals the size of your product – but only within the U.S. The prices of international shipping with a guaranteed 7–8 business day shipping time depends on where you live: the farther it is from the U.S., the more you pay.
Montage is definitely an outstanding photo book editing and printing service provider if you want something more than a simple photo book. With great quality come great sacrifices. Such a sacrifice is that you have to create your books in a limited editor where you can only change the themes, the arrangement of your photos and switch between preset layouts. You also have to compromise with the low variety of sizes, shapes and cover options, and say goodbye to easily accessible discounts and coupons.
If you accept these compromises and the high prices, you are in for something special. You get easy-to-use software, straightforward prices which can be reduced with (temporary) discounts, an extremely generous refund policy and last, but not least, beautiful, top notch photo books made out of the best materials a customer with high standards like you would expect.