I'm looking for a reliable photo book printing service that allows the option of uploading a high quality PDF or Indesign file, but also prints using high quality photo prints.

I've used Blurb, but their print quality, even on the higher quality paper, is on par with a high quality magazine print. While I'm not disappointed with the quality for the prices I've paid, I'm wanting to use a higher quality printer for my next project.

Has anyone found a service that does actual photo quality prints for their books, and still allows for completely custom books without using their custom software? The other requirement is that they allow for small print runs. I'm only wanting to have one or two books printed.

  • I'm not sure whether this will be considered off-topic here (I don't think it is), but you might also try graphicdesign.stackexchange.com – Evan Krall Jan 24 '11 at 6:41
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    I thought about that, but I thought I'd better better results here. Especially since photographers are usually a little more picky about their prints, especially since there hasn't been a whole lot of print talk on graphicdesign.stackexchange.com yet. – Benjamin Anderson Jan 24 '11 at 6:46
  • Just to clarify, Blurb does a good job for the price, but you are looking for something better than magazine quality? – Rodney Gitzel Jan 25 '11 at 18:04
  • Correct. I don't have a problem with Blurbs quality, especially for the price. But there are times that I have projects that I want photo print quality books, instead of standard press print. – Benjamin Anderson Jan 25 '11 at 18:19

You bet... two labs that I've specifically used for making custom photo books are:

They both have product lines that include a variety of different configurations (book size, # of pages, paper choice, cover options and materials, etc.), quantity of books ordered (1 or 2 is a common request), and will use 4-color or 6-color offset printing, so it will be much higher quality than Blurb, Cafepress, etc.

If you want the absolute best-of-the-best quality, and money is no object, the other option I can think of is to look into wedding album manufacturers such as:

They may be 'wedding album companies,' but there's nothing saying you're only 'allowed' to create wedding albums... But you'll want to be prepared for sticker shock. The costs are way higher than you'll pay through something like Blurb... On the other hand, the quality and customization are also top-notch, and the final product is going to have a 'look and feel' that Blurb simply will not be able to match. Additionally, these companies cater to businesses, not individuals, so you may have to jump through some additional hoops in order to use them.

Full Disclosure: I am a customer of all the companies mentioned above in my photography business, so I can personally attest to their top-notch quality... I don't get anything for mentioning them here, though, and there are other album manufacturers out there... These are just the ones I happen to be familiar with.

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  • I think your answer is great, I just wanted to widen this a bit with my bounty and get some other ideas. – Sam Saffron Feb 9 '11 at 3:52
  • @sam: Hey, it's your reputation... Feel free to spend it any way you want! :-) – Jay Lance Photography Feb 11 '11 at 9:47

Popular Photography recently ran an article about this and they tested around ten photo book printers. Their conclusion was that the Kodak books had the highest print quality and noted that they were the only ones of the group they tested who print on a traditional paper.

Adorama came in second with regard to print quality, so they would also be a good choice.

The article did not go into detail with regards to being able to upload a PDF to these services, so I can't help you there.

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Maybe I'm not understanding what you mean by "photo quality," but I've had a book published on a high-quality offset press, bound in sewn signatures and distributed by a major publisher. AND, I recently did a self-published book with Blurb, using the PDF-to-Book feature. And I have to say that the Blurb book looks EVERY BIT AS GOOD as the offset one, maybe even better. I wish that Blurb offered a sewn signature binding, but they don't, and as far as I can tell, nobody else in the online pub business does either, not even the really expensive sites like Asuka Books. (Their lie-flat books are not bound in signatures, much less sewn.) I used Blurb's Premium Luster paper.

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  • Coulture does sewn signatures, and as of July, Blurb is working on offering it as an option. Blurb has done much to improve their print quality since I did my first book three years ago. They now have a Proline that offers two additional high quality papers – Benjamin Anderson Sep 30 '11 at 17:03

I have worked with multiple publishers and Viovio has the best pricing and quality. You can upload a high quality PDF directly to the site:


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  • it looks like this is simply wrapping photobooks.pro so it may be better to just go directly there... – chills42 Feb 19 '13 at 20:18

Jay Lance Photography offered many of the very popular options in his answer already posted here. I would add in that Finao as another great option, they are very high end and great quality.


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