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Review roundup: Remember Albelli photo books?

A little while back a new photo book printing service called Albelli sprang up. They gave us some coupon codes for a free medium landscape photo book. You used those codes and made your books. And the general consensus? Meh.

Have you used a photo book printing service that you love (or hate)? Please tell us about it in the comments below!

As for Albelli, here’s what some of you thought of the service:

Dan wrote:

I wanted to wait until I received the book before I wrote a review.  The review is still in development but I’m glad I waited because the book arrived with some problems in it.  The software also has some issues that should be resolved, which I’ll mention in a comment on the blog post.

The real problem I have is that four images printed incorrectly.  Two were badly skewed/stretched, one had a handwritten press through from paper on top where I can see a handwritten “43” (it looks like a ballpoint pen was used with only a thin piece of paper on top of the photo for some reason) — and that’s on the first photo!  Also one photo in a collage became nearly completely covered by another photo.

I already sent an e-mail to albelli‘s service line with photos of the book and screenshots of the application showing the pages that are screwed up.  Here are links to the photos/screenshots I sent them.

I just received the book last night — shipping was fast since I placed the order on Thursday.

p.s. I used the code but ended up getting a L version (8.5″ x 11″) book with over 60 pages in it, so I ended up paying albelli $45.  Even if a replacement comes, I’m not sure it’s worth it vs. photobooks I’ve done with Shutterfly and Snapfish in past years.

Alissa wrote:

Well, if there’s one thing I can say for Abelli, they’re fast! I ordered my book on Tuesday evening, and it was waiting for me when I arrived home today!

The software for designing the book was simple and quick to use. There weren’t quite as many layout/design options as with Shutterfly or MPix, but the prices are lower in comparison. For some reason 3 of the photos I chose to upload would not go. I have no idea why–they were taken at the same time and with the same camera as all the others. That was annoying, because then I had to go back and choose new photos.

The book is nice. Smaller than I expected for a medium, but the printing is very nice quality and it’s bound well. The one very negative thing was that apparently there is a text limitation on the cover. I was unaware of this and chose the title of “********* Family Vacation” and the front of my book is printed with “********* Family Vac” This I do not like, and if I had paid for the book I would have asked for a reprint. However, since it was free, I’ll keep it :-)

Overall, I’d use them again for smaller sized photo books, especially if I’m in a hurry. The quality is good and they were super speedy and quite simple to use, and the prices are very reasonable—even shipping. For larger, more complicated books I’d probably stick with MPix, simply for the greater variety of design options.

Justin wrote:

I’ve been working with Albelli support since I got the coupon. So far, no luck. The app perpetually uploads my pictures, never finishing. :(

And later…

The latest software updates from Albelli seemed to fix most all of my problems. I was able to upload my photos, and I’ve gotten the book in the mail.

I agree that the book is small then expected. But it is the advertised size. I almost feel like they should warn me when I put four photos on the same page.

The book seems well bound to me, and I must say that I’m happy with it. However, the printing could be a little better. The pictures look a little grainy too me. Either my pictures are too small or the dpi is not high enough. Also, I’d like the option for glossy versus matte.

Thanks again for the coupon!

Brian wrote:

Like a few other here, the software took forever to load. My last email to them was April 24th, and I finally got a reply TODAY – 20 days later!

At least they apologized for the delay.

I’ll try it again as soon as I can, but I’m turned off already.

Ryan wrote:

Well finally got around to it, just terrible.

Bad software with very limited options. No option to put a picture on the cover. Cropping and fitting images in the software basically does not work. Integration with flickr and smugmug works good, but that about it. I would not use the site again until the design aspect is beefed up, this does not come close to the other photo book companies I have used.

Thanks for sharing your opinions. There are a few more comments and mini-reviews in the comments section of the original post we made about Albelli.

John Watson

John is the original founder of Photodoto, but after running it for 4 years he had to focus on different things. If you’re interested in what John has been up to recently, you can check is personal blog or browse his photo blog.

  • I have used MyPublisher, Kodak, Shutterfly and Viovio to have photo books made. My favorite is Viovio!

    The bindings on the books I got from MyPublisher fell apart in less than a year, and their customer service was always horrible. I was glad when Shutterfly started offering books, better quality by far. Then I discovered Viovio a couple of years ago – great quality and their everyday prices beat Shutterfly’s sale prices! Oh and customer service from them has been excellent.

  • Dan

    UPDATE: Albelli gave me a coupon to re-order my book but the replacement had similar issues — skewed and overlapped photos. After a final email they offered me coupons good for photobooks at their sister site. They say that the other site’s software is more comprehensive and tested. So I’ll need to recreate my photobook again, see how it comes out and see if I want to use the extra coupon.

    I think it comes down to software that is trying to do too much – full placement of photos including free rotation, limitless photos/page, etc. The other sites I’ve used (Snapfish and Shutterfly) compromise in the other direction, with (at the time I used them) limited templates for photo arrangement and text placement.

    I wish Albelli luck, though it seems like some of these problems could have been tested/resolved before they put the free M-size coupon offer out there for review.

  • This is a great post. These types of books are getting very popular and they are usually made to capture a special time in someones life and used as a gift so its nice to pay and get a product that will be nice to look at.

  • Moksha

    I have placed order before 15 days, and still waiting for the photo book to come. I have also tried to email then because thats the only way to reach customer service, but yet no replies from them. Now I doubt whether I will be receiving my photo book or not. I am disappointed :{

  • I was really dissapointed with them. The book was arrive more that 2 weeks.the customer was just worst ever. My picture got cut off. I got my picture cut off even for the 1st page. I really dissapointed.I tried to complain to get my money back, but, never get any respond. I wouldn’t recommend this service. The worst ever.Just waste of your money.Not worth it to wait as well.

  • Benny

    My Albelli photobook is a disappointment.
    First, poor print quality.
    Second, photos were not print correctly. Photos in two pages of my photobook were either totally missing or being cut off the pages.
    Third, customer service respond is very slow. Contacted them and sent them the images of problem pages and screen shoots of the same pages. For two weeks, still not able to get them to tell me what they are going to do to resolve it.
    Never use it again.

  • Jessica

    Colormailer.com has been my personal favourite for years. The photo books are rightly priced and quality is superb. The delivery time they take is reasonable.

  • Tyler

    I am very dissapointed with Albelli. I ordered a book and it come with several huge mistakes. One page didn’t even have the picture printed on it, just a blank page with some text. Another page had the picture turned at a 90 degree and so forth. I emailed Albelli and after 2 months of trying to contact them, they finally sent me a new book. I just got it today and this time it was worse than the first. Out of 24 pages, it had 8 pictures upside down. Some Almost every other page has the pictures upside down with the text upright. They told me the first time that 1% of their photo books come out with problems, but I really doubt that I was in the 1% both times. As far as I’m concerned, Albelli is a joke. I would recommend to stay far away from Albelli.

  • Renee Orans

    I would recommend a company I just used. I just created 25 photobooks for a family reunion and was very impressed with the company. They are called Ubuildabook (www.ubuildabook.com)
    They had volume discounts that were much better than the Blurb. The paper used standard was 80# glossy and I paid 3 cents more a page for 100# glossy.
    The books were hardcover , thick and sturdy, and laminated.
    The photobook software was very easy to use, but being the newbie I really needed customer service. Each time I called them they were kind and gracious and answered my many questions (some of which would have been silly to a professional).

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