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Photography.Book.Now competition sponsored by Blurb

Got a book in you? This looks like it might be a fun project (the chance to win $25,000 is just icing, really):

The Photography.Book.Now International Juried Competition seeks entries for its second annual competition celebrating self-published photography books and the photographers behind them. The grand prize is $25,000 to finish – or start – a photography project of the winner’s choice. Entries will be accepted in three categories – Fine Art, Editorial, and Commercial. The first-prize winner in each category will receive a private portfolio review with members of the judging panel.

Submissions will be accepted through 12:00 pm PDT on July 16, 2009, at http://www.photographybooknow.com. The Photography.Book.Now International Juried Competition is presented by Blurb, the creative publishing and marketing platform that enables anyone to design, publish, share and sell bookstore-quality books.

Details on the three categories (these are new for 2009):

  • Fine Art: The field of contemporary art is the arena to which many photographers now aspire. Whether your working methods are conceptual or stylistic, your aesthetic deadpan or modernist, or your artistic practice rooted in the world or performance, this is your chance to showcase your best photography in book form.
  • Editorial: Photography can create compelling narratives, especially in book form. Whether it’s a long-term project, a photo-documentary, or a series of editorial spreads, this category celebrates the photography book as an experience that is more than just the sum of its parts.
  • Commercial: Superb commercial photography—which can include fashion, corporate, and advertising work—goes beyond just a great product shot. The commercial photographer understands the importance of distinctive visual aesthetics and arresting branding. From fashion to advertising photography, we invite you to showcase your most compelling commercial work in book form.

Screencast: Creating a photo book

This is the fourth or fifth book I’ve created at Shutterfly. I really like their book maker. It’s easy to use, provides a good selection of layout choices, has a couple of different ways to pre-fill your book to get you going quickly, and there is no software to install—all the magic happens in your web browser. This video shows me creating my latest book (at about 6x speed). Highlights below.

(Larger version of this video here.)

Some highlights from the video:

Music by duckett (cc-by)

0:00 Choosing the overall style…

0:18 Choosing photos…

0:33 Using the storyboard to do a first-pass guided layout. The storyboard lets you choose which photos go on each page and then Shutterfly automatically picks an appropriate layout. Later you can tweak the layouts for each page by hand.

1:20 I was having some trouble getting a wide panorama photo to fit on the 8.5×11 page without cropping. Shutterfly doesn’t seem to offer an option to fit without cropping. So…

1:40 I fired up GIMP to alter the canvas size to 8.5×11 and re-upload. And while I was at it I did the same with a square aspect photo that I knew would also give me trouble.

2:21 Added altered photos to book in progress and continued.

4:30 Trying out different border styles.

4:49 The book is done! In real time it took about 33 minutes—not counting the time it took to upload the photos or select just 60 photos from the entire year. I ordered two copies of this 25 page, 8.5×11″ book with the leather cover:

  • First copy: $44.99
  • Second copy: $22.50
  • 2nd day shipping: $19.99 (ouch!)

If I hadn’t procrastinated I could’ve saved $10 on shipping. Next year I’ll get these earlier—yah, right.

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.

Albelli book printing service, free book giveaway

Update: There are no more discount codes available.

Albelli, a new photo book printing service from Album Printer Solutions, launched today.

Albelli features a photo book creation service that integrates with Photobucket and book creation software based on the Flash-based Adobe AIR platform which means it is compatible with Windows and Mac with Linux “on the way.” Is it just me or are there a ton of these do-it-yourself book printing services now? Shutterfly, Blurb, Qoop, Lulu, HP, MyPublisher, etc.

Shipping is free during the beta period. They offer books in portrait, landscape, and square formats with leather or linen covers.

I have not tried the service. If you are interested in giving it a go, leave a comment. Albelli has generously given us 20 coupon codes for a free medium landscape photo book or equivalent discount off a higher-priced book. All I ask is that after using the service you email me your impressions for publication here or write a review in the comments. Leave a valid email address so I can email you a discount code. Only one per person, please.

Visit Albelli Photo Books


40 second tour of a Shutterfly.com photo book

Hot on the heels of our photo book price guide, I’ve just taken possession of another photo book from Shutterfly.com and I have to say I’m still impressed. I ordered three books on Monday and they were received by recipients on both coasts on Friday using standard shipping.

This short video doesn’t do them justice. The books are attractive, durable, and the print and paper quality are excellent. Shutterfly’s online book builder doesn’t require you to download or install anything and provides a ton of layout options including a full-page layout right to the edge that looks spectacular.

Click below to play the video.

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