Sunday, February 21, 2016

Photobook Review: Snapfish Premier Layflat Hardcover

Snapfish Premier Layflat Hardcover Book

Basic Information

Snapfish seemed to be a very popular service, but I did not find too many reviews about their newish Premium Layflat photobook. I decided to give it a try when there was a 60% off promotion. To save you time from reading this review, just turn away from this product. It is VERY poor quality, and not even that much cheaper than other companies. You can continue reading the review for the lulz.

Basic Information
WebsiteSnapfish (link)
ProductPremium Layflat Hardcover Book
Size8 x 8"
Actual Dimensions
(exterior cover)
20.4 x 20.3 cm
(8x 8")
Actual Dimensions
(interior pages)
19.6 x 19.6 cm
(7 3/4 x 7 3/4 ")
Cover TypeCustom photo hard cover
Spine Printing?Text only (no image or background colour)
Type of Pages/BindingLayflat (seamless)
Type of Paper"Extra-thick premium paper with a luster-silk finish"
# Pages22
End pages?No
List Price
(excl. shipping)
Shipping Cost$7.99 (shipping info does not appear to be available on their site)
Promotion Used60% off
Total Price Paid
(incl. shipping)
Cashback at time of order?Ebates 15% (referral link)
Date Ordered12/5/2015
Date Shipped12/9/2015 (UPS Mail Innovations)
Date Received12/12/2015
Photobook EditorOnline

Software Review

The online software is easy enough to use, but is not robust

I didn't use any stickers, but I started having fun doing these sticker-bomb pages for the software review portion. 

At least you can rearrange individual pages. That's a plus. 

Pink guidelines show up when you line up elements, but they are only approximate. There is a margin of error around when the pink will show up, so you cannot be sure if the edges are perfectly aligned. 

Here's what the cover looks like. This is how I had arranged the picture for printing. 

Here, I shifted the picture over to the left to show that there's still about an inch worth of image available. This is important for later in my review when I show you the cover. 

This is what the software shows you as being the first page. This is accurate. 

This is what the software shows you as being the last page. It does not show you the extra page that is added with the Snapfish logo. 

There is a decent selection of pre-made layouts

And a good selection of fonts

Trim lines are shown in red, but only when you  have images that will appear close to them. I made an error here, and should have extended the images to the top and bottom of the right page. 

  • Clean interface
  • Numerous usable layout 
  • Good selection of fonts
  • Can re-arrange one page at a time

  • No dimensions or position coordinates
  • Not able to save custom layouts
  • Cannot copy-paste objects, pages or spreads
  • No ability to sort photos other than used/unused
  • Cannot easily swap pictures
  • Cannot select multiple objects at once
  • Difficult to create consistently sized objects
  • No pre-set 2 page layouts
  • No keyboad shortcuts
  • Spine can only print black text on white background (no image or background colour)
  • The pink guidelines that appear are only approximate 

If it's not obvious from my list above, I don't like the software. I only managed to complete the book in the first place by using only the preset templates with minimal revisions. 

Customer Service (Live Chat)

Since it seemed like there was a lot of limitations with their software, I contacted Snapfish's live chat to make sure I wasn't missing anything. The live chat was not good. Here is an excerpt of my chat log when I simply asked if it was possible to print an image on the spine of the book or change the background colour:
Jennifer: Can you print an image on the spine? Or change the background color?
Chaitanya (Snapfish Rep): We can change the background colour of the book not for the photo.In this case I suggest you to please use the third party tools like picassa or photo shop to change the background colour of the photo
Jennifer: I'm talking about the spine of the book
Chaitanya (Snapfish Rep): I am sorry I didn't get you.
Chaitanya (Snapfish Rep): What means spine of the book.
Jennifer: the part that covers where the pages are bound together
Chaitanya (Snapfish Rep): Okay.We cover the page with glossy or matte finish that covers the pages with out damage.
Jennifer: No; I mean when you put the book on a shelf, for example
Jennifer: the part of the book you can see
Jennifer: where you can put the book title
Jennifer: that's the spine
Jennifer: In the editor, you can change the text on the spine, but I don't see where to change the background color of it from white to something else
Jennifer: or the option to print an image on the spine
Chaitanya (Snapfish Rep): Okay,We have no option it was fixed colour

I'll let you make up your own opinion on that exchange.

By the way, I thought it was especially strange that Snapfish's own site shows the Premium Layflat book with an image wrapped around the spine here. It's either possible to do this (which would mean that (a) it's not obvious how to do so in the software and (b) their customer service reps do not know it is possible) or it's NOT possible, and their website is just misleading. Both options leave me unimpressed, though.

Product Pictures

The cover. Note the white line coming down the right edge. Based on my screenshots of the software, there is at least 1 inch of additional photo available to print, so there is no reason that this should have happened! Very disappointing. 

Inside the front cover; the first printed page matches what the software shows. 

This page is the one where I did not pay close enough attention to the trim lines. This is my fault, but you can see that the trim guidelines are only approximate. 

This print just looks low quality. 

This shows what the paper texture is like

The fold at the center of the pages is not precise either. Here you can see the right page images go onto the left page's seam. 

This is the last spread shown in the software, but this is not the last page of the book. 

This is the inside of the back cover; there is an additional page showing the Snapfish logo on the left. This is not reflected in the software.

No problems with the backcover. The texture of the cover is similar to the Mixbook's soft touch matte laminate finish. 

The plain spine. 

No issues with the construction of the book otherwise. Pages are fairly thick, as the printed pages are glued back-to-back with nothing else between them.

Comparison to 4x6 Prints

Overall, the Snapfish prints are washed out compared to the ProDPI 4x6 control prints, and appear very low resolution. I am really unsatisfied with the print quality. Many other digital press printed photo books I have received are far superior. This book looks like the printer had run low on toner.


Some unfair macro shots. Visible halftoning like all the other digital press printed products, but the print resolution looks substantially worse than others. 

This is from the cover - you can tell this is a photo print because there is no visible halftoning

The background wall looks very low resolution

Closeup of my totoro amigurumi

Baby face

Close up of building in Edinburgh

Close up of church in Keswick. The sky area looks very noisy. 

Close up of font

Final Thoughts

Don't waste your money, just avoid Snapfish entirely. Photobook America's layflat product cost me the same amount of money, but is far superior quality.

  • Soft matte texture of cover 
  • Cheapest price for layflat seamless book (but you get what you pay for)

  • Software is lacking many common features
  • Customer service/live chat is slow and difficult to communicate with ("What means spine of the book") 
  • Inferior print quality compared to other digital press printed products
  • Poor quality control (front cover shows white un-printed stripe, prints are not centered properly over the crease on certain spreads)
  • Misleading product photos on website (product photos show photos printed on spine, yet there appears to be no way to do so)
  • Pricing and shipping information not easily accessible on website

Additional Reviews
  • This is the only review I could find online for the Premier lay flat product, but this blogger loved her book. I guess YMMV!

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