Saturday, March 26, 2016

Photobook Review: MyPublisher Lay-flat and Super Gloss Upgrades


MyPublisher Classic Hardcover with Layflat pages and Super Gloss printing

Basic Information


After my experience with seamless lay-flat pages feeling too thick, I decided to try a flex-hinge product. MyPublisher had amazing reviews everywhere online (especially with regard to the super gloss printing upgrade), so I decided to give them a try.

Basic Information
WebsiteMyPublisher (link)
ProductClassic Hardcover with Layflat pages and Super Gloss printing
Size11.25 x 8.75"
Actual Dimensions
(exterior cover)
28.7 x 22.2 cm
(11 1/4 x 8 3/4 ")
Actual Dimensions
(interior pages)
26.7 x 21.1 cm
(10 1/2 x 8 1/4 ")
Cover TypePhoto finish gloss lamination
Spine Printing?Yes (text and background colour only)
Type of Pages/BindingLay Flat (flex hinge)
Type of PaperPremium #170 with Super Gloss upgrade
# Pages44
End pages?Yes (Vellum type)
Pricing
List Price
(excl. shipping)
$102.74 (pricing info)
Shipping Cost$11.99 (shipping info)
Promotion Used60% off
Total Price Paid
(incl. shipping)
$56.81 (including $3.72 of tax)
Cashback at time of order?5% on Ebates (Referral link)(also check MrRebates (referral link))*
Shipping
Date Ordered12/15/2015
Date Shipped12/21/2015 (FedEx 2 day)
Date Received12/24/2015
Software
Photobook EditorDownloadable (MyPublisher BookMaker)

* Note, I used the same trick I described for Photobook America in order to get the cash back to work: find out what browser is launched when you attempt to order your book, close the window. Then re-open that browser and click through your cash back site, and leave it open. Then order your book through the software. 


Software Review

MyPublisher has their own downloadable software, which I found rather cumbersome to use (although not the worst I tried). Here are screenshots from my book.

With MyPublisher, the spine can only accommodate text and background colour printing (no image printing on spine)

To edit the layout of the pages,  you have to click into a separate view mode ("MyStyle" On). It is a bit annoying to have to switch modes to edit the layout vs dropping pictures in. 

Easy to create a two page spread of one photo, but finicky to design multiple pictures over two pages (no pre-made 2 page layouts). 

In the Global settings, you can set the default font type. Also note, you can remove the MyPublisher logo here (for an extra charge of $10). 

The top bar can be toggled between photos and pages. 

Individual pages can be re-arranged easily - a plus.

There is a handy "flip" feature on layouts (denoted by the arrow in the top right corner). I liked this feature. 

The pre-made layouts are rather limiting, but workable. 



Green guidelines appear to help you line up elements, but it was very hard for me to get them to show up when I wanted them to!

If you prefer making custom layouts, just walk away from MyPublisher. That said, if you can work within the confined pre-made layouts, the software is serviceable. Although, looking back at my notes to populate my pros/cons list seems to suggest I had a very irritating experience with the software! It's definitely clunky, but based on what I've read, they do seem to make improvements to the software.


Pros
  • can re-arrange individual pages
  • flippable layouts
  • spell check feature
  • frame coordinates available (but not dimensions)


Cons
  • cannot copy objects or pages (makes it impossible to create re-usable custom layouts)
  • green guidelines do not span across both pages, so it is difficult to line up elements across pages (again, another impediment to creating custom layouts)
  • you cannot re-arrange a box if there is a photo in it (you have to empty the box before you can move)
  • can only sort images by used and not used
  • a bit buggy: if you have images loaded into a page, and change the layout to reduce the number of images (e.g., changing from 8 to 6 images on a page), the images that are dropped do not go back into the pool of unused photos (i.e., you could lose track of photos if you're not careful)
  • cannot print an image on the spine (only text and background colour)
  • too many actions/clicks required to make simple operations (e.g., to pan an image within a box to re-arrange what shows up, you have to click into the box first to get a pop-up, then pan, then exit this pop-up) 
  • can only select one object at a time (cannot move multiple objects together)


Product Pictures


I selected the photo finish cover, but didn't realize I could choose a matte option. I'm not a fan of the glossy cover, it looks a bit cheap. 

The end leaves are vellum-type sheets. I don't really like this type of end leaf, but it's a personal preference. It makes a crinkly sound when you turn it. 

The first printable page is on the right. I grabbed this screen cap from Google Maps, and it printed horribly (must not have been high enough resolution).

Colours are very vibrant

Full bleed prints (left) looks great! 

The only two-page spread option you have is a single image across two pages. 

Deep blacks print very richly. 

Last printable page on the left. Blank on the right.  

The back of the last blank page is a logo and barcode. 

Another vellum sheet at the end.

Back cover. There's a removable label. 

Peels off super easy - at least off the glossy cover type

Here's a close-up of the front cover at the corner, when you open the front. This looks super cheap to me. 

Close-up of the small gap between pages from the flex-hinge design. For full bleed photos, the image also prints onto the hinge.

Bottom corner of back cover has the same issue as the front cover. Very unattractive :(. 

Other than the cover corners, the build construction of the book is quite good quality. 

View of bottom of book. 

Spine view. I picked a blue that was close to the cover, but would have preferred to be able to wrap the image around the spine. 

Super Gloss Printing upgrade. Pages are pretty substantial, but I don't really like how the pages feel in hand.

Close-up to show the surface of the page


Bent page so you can see the glossiness
One of the problems I had with the full page prints: it's difficult to see in photos, but if you look closely and enlarge the photo, there is a faint line running down about 1/2 an inch from the center gap on each page. It's appears most prominently on pages with large swaths of blue.  

Flipping through the book!


Comparison to 4x6 Prints

Here are comparisons to my control 4x6 prints from ProDPI:

The cover printed a little warmer than the control print

The photobook print has higher contrast than the control print. I'm not sure if that is the gloss finish or some adjustment that was made to my files.

Slight difference compared to the 4x6 print, but overall the full page print in MyPublisher looks nice

Another full page image for comparison purposes

This image printed very true to the control print

The interior print of this image is very close to the control print (unlike the cover)

I love this picture - it printed out in the book great.

I think the MyPublisher print colours look good here, but you can see it's different than the control print.

The ship looks darker in the book than in the control print.

The night images look great in the book as well

Back cover looks nice as well


Comparison to Photobook America

Since there was some overlap between this travel photobook and my 2012 Year in Review photobook printed with Photobook America, I thought I would throw in a couple comparison pictures:

MyPublisher colours are punchier than Photobook America (but Photobook America is closer to the 4x6 control print)

MyPublisher appears darker than Photobook America in his picture (this is probably more related to the high gloss of MyPublisher finish though)

Again, MyPublisher colours are darker and more vibrant

The MyPublisher print of this image is actually darker than I would like. 

MyPublisher vs AdoramaPix Fuji HD Glossy

MyPublisher's Super Gloss printing actually turned out to be less glossy than I expected. It's not as high-gloss as the Fuji HD Glossy paper used by AdoramaPix. Not a big deal, but just surprising given all the reviews I read saying the Super Gloss was as glossy as glossy photo prints (I respectfully disagree). 

Top: AdoramaPix Fuji HD Glossy paper, Bottom: MyPublisher Super Gloss

Macros

Here is the unfair part of my review. Like all press printed products, there are visible dots/half-toning when viewed very closely. With MyPublisher, though, this seemed a little more apparent than Photobook America and Shutterfly.

As I mentioned above, the full size, full bleed photos did turn out great.







I tried taking a couple close-up (but not macro) shots of MyPublisher vs Photobook America, to see if the difference in print resolution would show up. I compared similarly coloured walls, so the actual image resolution should not matter as much. You may or may not be able to see what I'm talking about.

MyPublisher first, then Photobook America.

MyPublisher

Photobook America Lay flat


Final Thoughts

MyPublisher participates in the same kind of marketing strategy as the other consumer-targeted companies (Photobook America, Snapfish, Shutterfly) with constant sales and promotions, pre-purchase vouchers and Groupon "deals". You need to read the fine print of everything to understand what you are paying for. According to a couple reviews, it looks like their old software would offer you upgrades after you completed your book, and if you at first declined the upgrades, the program would offer them to you again at a discount (source 1, 2). This did not happen to me, so I believe they changed their practice or software, but it's still slimy to read about!

Most reviews about the Super Gloss printing said the upgrade was worth it, and even that the print quality was superior. I emailed customer service to ask about the Super Gloss upgrade, and was told that the Super Gloss was just a coating on the paper you choose, and not a different type of paper. It's still unclear to me whether they use a different printer for orders with the Super Gloss upgrade.

While the construction of the book itself appears well-made, there are many aspects of the book that make it look and feel cheap to me. For example:
  • the glossy cover bubbles up unattractively when you open the cover (I missed the matte option; I'm sure I would have preferred that)
  • the vellum fly sheets sound crinkly when turned
  • the faint lines 1/2 inch from the center gap of my two-page spreads
While the full size, full bleed pages look great, overall, I felt the print resolution of this book was inferior to most of my other press printed books (with the exception of Snapfish, which was the worst).

I had read so many glowing reviews for MyPublisher (and in particular for the super gloss upgrade), but I was ultimately disappointed in the final product. While the colour reproduction is great, the overall quality of the book simply does not meet my standards.


Pros
  • Thinner pages than seamless layflat type of books 
  • Flex-hinge pages are nice
  • Vibrant colours 
  • Full bleed pages look fantastic

Cons
  • Overall cheap look and feel 
  • Almost every option comes at an upgrade cost
  • Removing the MyPublisher logo costs an additional $10
  • No square formats are available

Additional Reviews

5 comments:

  1. Did you have any issues getting your photobook in a timely manner? I've read several other reviews saying that was an issue, but I'm not sure how common that may be.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Katherine - mine arrived 9 days after I ordered, so not bad, but certainly not the quickest.

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  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  3. Very unsatisfied and frustrated customer

    I don’t recommend My Publisher to my worst enemies! I wish I could give 0 stars for My Publisher, actually negative stars.

    I have been a customer with My Publisher from the very beginning. I have done several books and it was always excellent service, full support and great products.

    Now If you are looking for an unreliable company, talk with employees who make promises they are not willing to keep and are not willing to help you or go the extra mile for the customer satisfaction My Publisher is the right company.

    I had to escalate my problem to the supervisor after wasting my time talking with an employee named Yvonne who is supposed to be very knowledgeable and experienced.

    She made promises she couldn’t keep and after talking to another supervisor named Margaret she also was not willing to help. She asked her supervisor named Danilo who is supposed to be her boss and he said that they don’t make exception. All I needed was a Saturday delivery, I was promised Saturday delivery by Yvonne.

    I called UPS and gave them my tracking number and was willing to pay the extra charge. UPS couldn’t make the change, the request had to come from the sender.

    I offered to pay extra when talking to Margaret and again she said no. We don’t make exceptions. We don’t call UPS. She probably thinks that she is too important to talk with a delivery company.

    All it would take was a quick phone call to UPS to make sure that the book would be delivered on the scheduled that it was promised, Saturday.

    The book was meant to be given on a very special occasion to a very special client and now not only it won’t be delivered on schedule but it will be delivered on Monday, when it would be too late.

    Nobody will even be at that location. I trusted My Publisher, I trusted Yvonne when I shouldn’t.

    I just wished I had not used My Publisher for my order, they were unreliable, unfriendly and operates on a computerized manner.

    A customer service who is not willing to think outside the box in order to help a customer has definitely chosen a wrong job.

    Murilo doesn’t understand the meaning of customer service. Actually the mistake comes from his boss who is not keeping an eye on him to make sure that he is trying to help a customer. To do his job.

    When I started making books, My publisher was the only company in the market, the only good one.

    No wonder so many new competitors are out on the market now; with time they were not able to keep up their place on business.

    They don’t deserve to be number 1 anymore and I only used them again due to good memories from old times when I was treated with respect and attention.

    My husband was against me using My Publisher but I insisted. I remembered when I was not just one more client.

    I am so disappointed and I so wished I had listened to my husband and had not trusted them for such a special occasion. My mistake, i should not have been loyal to them and now I learned my lesson.

    A very, very unsatisfied and frustrated customer
    Leila
    ORDER#M8479507

    ReplyDelete
  4. I appreciate your very thorough opinion!

    I've made 4 books over the years as a memorable item as each years passed. I really like their lay flat pages and matte print. But like you said, the halftone pattern is very apparent, and I though it was because of the matte paper.

    Also, the matte cover is much nicer than the glossy one.

    I think I'll continue to stick with mypublisher to make a book each year so the books are consistent in size.
    They are running a coupon sale right now on their own website, for $40 you get the classic book size with up to 80 pages, a photo finish or book jacket cover, and lay flat pages.

    ReplyDelete