- Extremely cost-friendly pricing
- Various sizes, paper types, bindings
- Over 1,000 themes (layouts)
- Mobile-friendly editor (tablet)
- PDF upload
- Primitive, buggy editor
- Confusing pricing, size–cover–paper–binding pairing
- Virtually no discounts
When it comes to preserving our most cherished memories, we usually strive for quality by putting them into a personalized photo book made out of the best materials possible. Unfortunately, photo books, and not just the more prestigious ones, became quite expensive over the years – and not all customers can afford a book that might have the price of a weekend shopping trip. This is when a photo service like PrestoPhoto enters the mix. You have probably never heard of this company, but you should; without doubt this is the photo book company that sells its products with the best prices possible. And you might be wondering: do I get anything for this cheapness? Yes, you do: PrestoPhoto is not only cheap, but versatile too with its record breaking amount of 21 photo book sizes. Plus, this is probably the only company that lets you decide the binding technique of your photo book. So, if you are looking for a photo book builder which can create super cost-friendly products for you, then PrestoPhoto might be worth checking out.
When we first started examining PrestoPhoto’s photo book builder (available on desktop and tablet browsers) – we expected a very basic editor with the most necessary features. Too bad PrestoPhoto’s photo book builder turned out to be one of, if not the worst, we have ever tried so far.
Photo uploading from a computer, Facebook or zenfolio works fine, but the moment you try to upload from Instagram, you are greeted by an error message. (This did not occur on an Android tablet.) Right after that little blunder, you hit the next wall, which is the autofill feature: theoretically it exists, but no matter how hard we tried, it continuously failed. However, this is still nothing compared to the photo adjustment “options”.
The good news is that if you drag and drop your photos to the book, they are auto-fitted to their respective photo holders with crop zones showing you those parts which will be chopped. The bad news is that this is the end of your adjustment options. No kidding: aside from putting your photos to the right place, cropping and rotating them in 90° angles, the photos are completely unaltered, preventing you from the artistic freedom you would expect nowadays. Furthermore, due to the automated refitting, photos appear distorted, especially landscape ones, which is a huge no-no for every decent photo book company.
So is there anything that saves this train wreck from complete derailment? Believe it or not, there is: for instance, you have the option to upload PDF files and turn them into a full-fledged photo book to avoid using the default builder. If you have to use PrestoPhoto’s builder anyway, you have a painfully slow, yet fully functional auto-save feature. You can easily unite pages to form two-page spreads and you can modify the order of pages with a few clicks. You also have the option to add as many text boxes as possible, choose from countless templates (layouts), change the background of each individual page to your liking and even see what cover, size and paper options you have before ordering.
Unless you know the tricks of how to select a theme before starting the creation of a book, you automatically get a completely blank book, the designs of which you have to select during the editing process. The trick is that on the main page you have to select Create and go to Templates where you can see the 1054 designs under 17 categories created by the company and 50 other designers. However, keep in mind that templates created by the users of PrestoPhoto have a price tag ranging from $0.01 to $6 and up. To avoid paying extra, look for the 84 templates designed by Book Designer, which are the default designs of the photo book builder.
You have the option to skip this step and start building a completely blank book, thus giving yourself more time to think about the design and add it later. This also works retroactively, meaning that if you have chosen a design, but want to swap it with another one, you can do it.
The list of book sizes offered by PrestoPhoto is the best of the market: believe it or not, your landscape, square or portrait photo books can be ordered in 21 sizes in total, ranging from 2.5×3.75 to 11×14. Which would be unbeatable, if you could select these sizes and pair them with any covers, the 9 paper types and 3 binding techniques – but unfortunately, you can’t. Speaking of the latter, PrestoPhoto is probably the only photo book company that allows users to order their books with cheaper wire-o or saddle-stitch bindings (obligatory with soft cover books under 20 pages) which is weird and, in our opinion, is unworthy of a decent photo book.
A bigger problem is that covers are not properly displayed on the company’s website: you only get to know all options when you are already ordering your book. However, the number of options is pretty decent: you have softcover, hardcover (with dust jacket upgrade), suede leather, and linen with or without die-cut, and the embossed versions of the latter 3 materials.
PrestoPhoto has a pricing policy that is not only the best of the market, but the most confusing as well. The first thing you will notice is that prices are not constant: although there are base prices, they gradually increase as you add more pages and more extras (covers, paper types, binding, removal of logo). Here’s an example: an 8.5×8.5 book with normal binding has a base price of $4.99, but adding the recommended minimum 20 pages raises the final price tag to $10.99 (the cost of pages is $0.30 per page in this case), while the logo removal is an extra $10. Speaking of pages, the maximum page amount is 400, but the company only recommends 240 in order to not stress the book’s spine. Shipping prices are also confusing, because each time you want to know how much it would cost to get your orders shipped, you have to start the ordering process to see an estimated price.
Due to the above, cheap pricing policy, coupons and discounts are basically out of question with the only exceptions being the bulk order discounts and gift certificates.
Support & Shipping
Although PrestoPhoto provides phone assistance, it strongly recommends you to use the faster live chat option or write an email and get an answer within 1 business day. When you bulk order, however, a staff member will be in constant touch with you, even sending a sample in advance to ensure that your order is printed without defect. PrestoPhoto also maintains a detailed help page with a product catalogue, the description of the products, how to use the software and so on. Quite surprisingly, you can comment on each subject on that page, but you can also turn to other customers in the community forum. This preparedness cannot be said of the video tutorials, as they are extremely outdated (they were created before the rebranding). But by far the biggest insult is that no refund policy is available for the customers.
As for shipping, if we don’t take into consideration the 4–10 business day processing time, your orders are delivered within 1–7 business days, which increases to 21 days should you be abroad.
PrestoPhoto offers you an effective way of creating a photo book for a very cost-friendly price. However, you have to sacrifice a lot of things on the altar of cheapness: such a thing is that the photo book builder is a huge mess with very few customization options. Many of the more interesting themes are only available if you pay an extra fee. The prices are not crystal clear as they are calculated according to not just the size, cover, paper type, but the number of pages and other aspects as well. And the processing and shipping time is extremely slow compared to that of the competition. But if you accept these things as a compromise for the best prices of the market and the biggest selection of photo book sizes, and the option to actually choose a different binding technique, you are in for a good treat.