- Rich product assortment
- Cost-friendly extras
- Fast order processing
- Cheap and fast shipping
- Detailed help page
- Expensive prices
- Primitive, split editor
- Inconsistent size/cover–theme pairing
Nowadays there are plenty photo printing solution providers on the market, though not too many can tell its customers that their orders are shipped within a relatively short period of time. Mpix, a Kansas-based company founded in 2003, can rightfully call itself a fast shipper. Regardless of your order – which can be regular, metal or canvas prints, collages, wall art, cards, photo gifts, sports and occasion related products, and, of course, photo books – Mpix guarantees that you get what you want within 7 business days or even faster. With the company’s editor you can quickly create nice photo books, but if you need support you can consult the detailed help page or the blog full of useful tips and articles. You also have the option to buy e-gift cards that you can use or even sign away to others as a true gift. And if there is a true artist in you, you can upload the designs you have created for others to use and earn money on your works.
Creating a photo book in Mpix is nothing special. Once you have selected the cover alongside the ideal book size, you have to decide whether you want to create a book from scratch, or you want to use the themes offered by the software. When you are done, you are asked to upload pictures from your computer or from your Mpix, Facebook or Instagram account. You should keep in mind that the unlimited Mpix account only stores your photos for 60 days (120 if you order your book).
After your photos are uploaded and auto-filled into your book, you are greeted by a very primitive, but still useful online editor. The first problem is that you have very few customization options, which is determined by the theme you have chosen. With the exception of the front and back covers, you can change the layout and the background of your pages – the numbers of which depend on the book’s type and theme – and add new photo holders and text boxes, which you can resize, rotate and move. Texts are spell-checked with the spell-checker of your browser, but at least Mpix is capable of warning you of low-resolution pictures. If you want to remove pages or add more, you can do that respecting the minimum and maximum page numbers you can have. Unfortunately the software’s features stop here: the only thing you can do is save your works (auto-save is not supported) and move onto the next phase, which is adding other accessories like a dust jacket, foil stamping etc.
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If you want to further customize your book, there is a trick: once you have saved your works, go to your Saved Projects page, click Customize and welcome to “Mpix Editor 2.0”. Here you have slightly better customization options: adding photos and deleting photo holders and text boxes in a much easier way. Moreover, depending on the selected theme and cover, you have more backgrounds to choose from and you can even add clipart pictures and photo borders too.
Choosing a theme for your Mpix photo book is nothing but a big mess. The biggest problem is that the number of themes available for certain sized books with matching covers is inconsistent. The only thing that remains unchanged is the number of themes the premium and soft cover books have: the former offers 3 completely blank themes, while the latter has 24 preset and 1 DIY themes. However, if we take into consideration the maximum number of designs available for hard cover books (48) the total number of styles offered by Mpix finally reveals itself to be 76.
All the above means that not all design elements can be paired with all book sizes and covers, and unfortunately your decision regarding these features is permanent. In fact, you have to decide in advance the color of the art cloth and linen hard covers, the type of the paper, and whether you want a customized photo jacket with your book or not. The only thing you can decide later is the foil stamping.
Soft cover books are available in square or landscape shapes in 5×5, 4×6, 6×9 and 8×8 sizes. They must contain at least 20 pages, but you cannot order a book which has more than 100 pages. All pages are printed on the standard matte papers and once you are ready to order you have the option to gift wrap your book too.
All the other book types are available in the following sizes: 5×5, 8×8, 10×10, 8.5×11 and 11×8.5. Premium books can be ordered in 6 different linen covers with or without a customized photo dust jacket created from standard matte or the extra semi-gloss photographic paper.
Economy books, on the other hand, come with standard or pearl photo papers, and can have a custom image cover or art cloth in 10 different covers with or without foil stamping. The above type of books must contain at least 20 pages, but premium books can have 100 pages at maximum while this number is only 50 if you choose the Economy books.
Sadly the pricing policy of Mpix is ridiculous: it contains just one permanent discount option (e-gift cards), but it also has one of the worst values for money of the photo book companies we have tested. The cheapest product, a 5×5 book, costs $19.99, but the true shocker is the price of an 8×8 book: it costs $29.99 with soft cover, while its counterpart with art cloth hard cover is cheaper by $5. Thankfully, the price of an additional page is acceptable: it is $0.50 per page, but you need to take them in pairs, so the true price tag is $1.00. You have two extras at your disposal: you can buy foil stamping for $7.00 for your art cloth hard covered book, and you can cover your linen premium photo book with a dust jacket for $8.00.
After your book is ready within 1–2 business days it is shipped rather quickly and regardless of the number of ordered books you only pay one price. The default shipping is the Standard one, which costs $7.95 and requires 2–5 days, while Expedited shipping only requires 1 business day, but it costs $12.95 (which becomes $14.95 if a signature is required).
Support & Shipping
Quite surprisingly the only way you can contact the Mpix personnel is by email or by submitting a support ticket. Another interesting element is the online help section which is basically an FAQ. This is further proven by the fact that this is the page where you can find information about almost everything, including the refund policy: should your book arrive damaged due to unforeseen circumstances, you have 30 days to ask for a reprint of the original product. But if the above is still not enough, you can still read the blog where not only the discounts are advertized, but you can also read useful articles like a photo book design tutorial.
We already mentioned that there are 3 regular types of shipping available: Standard, Expedited and Expedited with signature. However, there are two more: the 10+ day Economy shipping is only available for Puerto Ricans and inhabitants of the Virgin Islands for $3.95, while the UPS Priority International shipping requires 1–2 business days, but it is only available for Canadians for $30.
Despite getting mostly positive reviews from customers, we are not entirely satisfied with the services of Mpix. Without doubt the biggest reason of our disappointment is the online editor which is primitive, but not in a good way. Your hands are pretty much tied when it comes to customization (see size–theme pairing for instance), but quite mysteriously, there is a “second” editor in which you can customize your books a bit better. Another huge disappointment is the pricing policy: the base prices of books are ridiculously high, while promotions are virtually non-existent.
On the flipside, the production time of the new books is extremely fast compared to that of the competition and shipping within the U.S. is also quite fast while still being cost-friendly. And if you need support you can turn to the detailed online help page or get a prompt answer from the team.