“ Brand: Truprint / Type: Stationery - Photo Book „
I often make scrapbooks of my adventures abroad, but I'm rather running out of room for big, bulky files full of ticket stubs and boarding passes and general paraphernalia I've picked up. So, when I got back from Colombia last week I thought I'd do something different, and ordered one of these photobooks. I wasn't quite prepared for the extent of the range of these available from just about every online photo company, but ended up with Truprint because they had several promotions on, offering me both money off at the checkout and Quidco cashback. As a new customer I also got free prints, so ordered those for my mother and the photobook for myself, though they were processed separately and both therefore incurred a postage charge.
Even once you've selected a company to use, there are so many options of photobooks. You can have them with linen covers, or hard-backed or soft-backed, in a whole range of sizes. While I liked the idea of having one, I'd never actually seen one in person before so decided to start off with a cheapie option. At the same time, I didn't want something too small as I was having this instead of getting prints made and collage-ing them myself. In the days of film cameras, and Doubleprint and Tripleprint, the small photos always seemed like a good idea until they arrived and you realised they weren't really much good. Therefore I chose to go for the 7x5 inch book, with a soft cover. I also wanted this cover personalised with a photo of my own, so I would never mistake it for a random notebook or similar and chuck it in a drawer or on a shelf. This added extra to the price, but it was something I thought important.
So, I'd picked my cover style and fabric, and the size, but the colour of both the cover and the pages were still up for grabs. I wanted something plain not themed, so though you can get them with a travel motif (i.e. passport-style stamps) or with new baby decoration in pink or blue, or a whole host of other options, I went for the simple black cover and white pages - mainly because I thought my photos would stand out better against the latter. I can't imagine all the designs are unique to Truprint, but the one I ordered with that colour, size and design is called 'Studio' in their book. In my configuration the starting price was £12.99 not including postage, and only for the first 20 pages, with an additional charge for every 2 sides after that
A Place For Everything And Everything In Its Place
One thing I like about Truprint is that you don't need to download special software in the way that, say, Tesco Photo require you to. Instead, first you upload your photos into your Truprint account if they're not already there. To make things easier, I created a special 'Photo Book' album to put them in. Then you can choose to drag and drop then into place, or let the software autofill the book. Although you can then edit them yourself, I decided to go for the former and do it all myself because I wanted to theme them based on location or event over the last 6 months, and try to put them into chronological order too.
The cover is easy because this is just one, landscape photo. I dragged mine in and it centred it and added a slightly frilly frame. You can also include text on the cover, in a wide range of sizes and fonts, so I did that and then also sorted the back cover which has room for one rather small photo and no text. Really it has room for lots more, of course, but that's all the template allows.
The pages were a bit trickier as for each one you had to choose how many photos you wanted and how they would be sized and configured. There are many page templates available but it can be a bit of a pain to trawl through them all, so I found a few that worked and stuck to them.
One slight issue I encountered was that I had lots of photos I wanted to include, but hadn't taken them with this book in mind so didn't have enough going in the right direction, for example (and didn't want sideways ones in MY book, thank you very much). I automatically take more landscape than portrait photos, but the latter work much better in a book like this. You can have two portrait ones next to each other and make much better use of the available space, but two landscape ones can only fit on if you make them much smaller. I also didn't want a lot of white space on the pages since that too seemed like a waste, so it took some juggling. I had initially thought I would caption the pages, but this limited where I could put photos, and how many I could fit in, and once I had run to 30 pages and seen the price it had increased to, I realised I had to reign it in. So, I deleted the text boxes and played around with the page layouts. The best I found, apart from those 2 portrait shots side by side, were combinations including one portrait and two half-sized landscapes alongside, or 4 landscapes making a sort of grid.
I think their claim that these books fit up to 15 photos per page is a bit much. Seeing as the book only measures 7 by 5 (a traditional photo is 6 by 4) I worried about putting even 4 photos on a page as I just thought they'd come out so small, but I risked it and when it was delivered I was relieved to see the 4-to-a-page thing worked well (though I'm not sure I would have wanted to add more).
It took me a good 2 hours to sort my photos into the book, though this included editing and re-editing my collection as every extra page was adding to the cost significantly. That's also the reason I didn't go for whole page photos except on a small number of occasions. When it arrived, though those ones were good, they seemed a little boring and I was glad that price constraints had forced me to share pages as the result was a much more collage-like effect that I think works well. The website crashed a few times and though the books autosave as you work on them, I worried I might lose my Quidco click-through cookie but by that point I had invested enough time that I just wanted to get the thing ordered. Compared to a couple of hours manually sticking prints and bumf into an album, I have to say the online version is surprisingly a lot more stressful and frustrating.
Colour Me Impressed
I ordered on Monday and it arrived on Friday morning in a nice padded envelope which easily fit through the letterbox. I had begun to doubt how much I would like it in the time that had elapsed since ordering, so it was with some trepidation that I opened it. However, I was thrilled with my little book with just a few niggles.
One is to do with the quality of the printing. It just seems a tiny bit more like print-at-home pages that my HP printer spits out than it does professional photo printing. Part of this will be the paper while part I think is the lack of sharpness in some of the lines between multiple photos on the same page. The colour hasn't bled, per se, it just looks a smidge fuzzy. Our regular photo prints appeared on the same day (albeit in a different packet) and these were much sharper and printed on gloss paper, whereas the book is matt.
I was also surprised by two additions to the book that I'd not expected. One is a barcode on the back and the other is an additional final sheet , blank except for the Truprint logo on one side and the name of the product ordered (plus a snapshot of the front and back covers) on the other. I'm not at all sure why this is included, but being the final page, rather than the first one, it's not too intrusive.
Overall, however, I am very pleased with the book. It has been beautifully bound and feels sturdy as I turn the pages which I'm sure I will be doing many times over the upcoming months. The cover is glossy and has an expensive sheen to it, and my front cover photo looks rather professional, even if I do say so myself. Inside, the colours are bright and sharp and despite my comment about the paper quality, it looks far from homemade and is clearly better than anything I could have hashed together myself.
Pretty As A Picture?
I would recommend Truprint photobooks, either in the same style and format I ordered or in one of the other options, though this recommendation comes with a few caveats:
* The online design process is lengthy and at times irritating. Little things, like automatically distorting landscape photos to make them portrait if you accidentally drag and drop into the wrong box are not immediately obvious if you're working fast, but need to be spotted if you're not going to end up with some funny shots where the aspect is all off.
* I would not recommend going smaller than 7x5, not only for the visibility of your pics, but also because you need a book you can handle easily, or pass around. Mine is the small end of what I would consider acceptable.
* It can be tempting to have one (landscape) shot per page but this means you'll only get 20 photos for the basic price: I still stuck to 20 pages but got 51 photos into them, and none are too small to see easily
* Photos don't have to be a high resolution, but a warning will pop up if they're considered low by the software, and you proceed at your own risk
* There are dozens of templates available, but you can also get it to 'create' one just for you if you drop the photos carefully. This is a bit hit and miss but my favourite pages are ones that don't use a template that is available in their list, though clearly the software recognised what to do and how to line things up
* You cannot change to a different style or larger size photobook without starting again which seems rather mean. The photos you uploaded will still be in the album, but you cannot simply shift your careful layout to a large book and have all the photos supersize a bit. It's for this reason that I stuck with my small 7x5 and personalised soft cover when I saw the price changing and thought I could/should play with the options
My book should have cost £12.99 but with my discount code the checkout price was just £10.39. I paid £1.99 for the book, and 99p postage for the free prints I ordered. I tracked £3 cashback on Quidco meaning I paid about £10 in total for everything delivered (a book and 25 prints). I wasn't sure what to expect as I ordered one of the smaller books in one of the cheapest design options, but I was really pleased with it when it arrived. It's not cheap enough for me to consider making a photobook for non-special occasions, but for things like a 6 month trip you want to remember, it's a not-too-expensive and quite fun way to do so.