Thursday, April 14, 2016

Photobook Review: Photobook America (Non-Lay Flat)

Photobook America Medium Landscape, non-lay flat

Basic Information

After my positive MILK Books experience, I decided to take another look at non-lay flat photobooks. Since I was really not that happy with my Mixbook China trip photobook, I decided it would be a good one to re-print and test another product. My friend sent me a Groupon link for their Medium Landscape book for $10, and I decided to give it a try! 

Note that you will always pay more than what the Groupon says because of shipping charges and any upgrades you opt for. My book ended up costing me $34 out of pocket.  

Basic Information
WebsitePhotobook America (link)
ProductImagewrap Hardcover
Size11 x 8.5 Medium Landscape
Actual Dimensions
(exterior cover)
28.2 x 21.6 cm
(11   1/8  x 8   1/2  "")
Actual Dimensions
(interior pages)
27.5 x 21.1 cm
(10   7/8  x 8   1/4  "")"
Cover TypeImageWrap Matte Lamination
Spine Printing?Yes (text and image)
Type of Pages/BindingPUR Binding
Type of Paper150gsm Superfine Eggshell (an upgrade)
# Pages48
End pages?Yes
List Price
(excl. shipping)
$86.97 (pricing info)
Shipping Cost$9.99 (shipping info)
Promotion Used$10 Groupon for $62.99 credit
Total Price Paid
(incl. shipping)
$33.98 (additional pages, shipping, paper upgrade, Groupon cost)
Cashback at time of order?MrRebates (referral link) 6% (see note below)
Date Ordered1/27/2016
Date Shipped2/2/2016 (DHL from Malaysia)
Date Received2/4/2016
Photobook EditorOnline or downloadable (Photobook Designer by Taopix)

Note: for cashback help, see my note under Basic Information in my first Photobook America review.

Software Review

See my review of Photobook Designer here.

Product Pictures

I wrapped an image around the front and back of the cover, though it was not high enough resolution to do so. I have regrets about that! 

Inside front cover; end sheet on the right

After the end sheet, there is ALSO a vellum sheet 

After the vellum sheet is the first printable page on the right

I like how my edited pictures printed 

Nice dark blacks

I love how the full bleed pages look

Unrelated, but the "Dehaze" slider in Lightroom is quite remarkable. The HK picture is like a completely different image!

Last printable page on the left, vellum sheet on the right

Vellum sheet on the left, and end sheet on the right

Inside back cover (end sheet on left)

Back cover


Bottom of book

Binding view
The Superfine Eggshell paper upgrade is lovely. 

The cover does feel a little cheap though

Although construction is good. 

Comparison to 4x6 Prints

Since I went back to my original RAW files from this trip, I reprocessed everything in Lightroom and adjusted contrast, exposure, and colours to suit my preferences. As such, my ProDPI control prints that I printed for my Mixbook review are not really comparable (I didn't feel like re-ordering prints for this book). I'm very pleased with the colour reproduction of this book, though!


For a press printed product, I thought the print quality was very good here. No complaints on that front.

Final Thoughts

I'm pretty happy with the overall quality of this book (especially the paper!), but not totally loving the cover. It feels a bit cheap compared to my Blurb cover. I hadn't felt this way about the Photobook America lay-flat book I ordered, probably because that one was only a short 20 page book and I didn't really notice.

I also think that for non-lay flat books, thicker books feel nicer and more substantial. While I expanded my China book to 48 pages, and it's still quite thin. One downside of a short book without layflat pages, is that the pages near the front and back will get a little bent near the gutter as you look through it. In a longer book (such as my 200 page Blurb book), the book will open up more easily.

A couple minor gripes to add:
  1. Although I purchased a Medium Landscape Groupon, the voucher ended up being for a Medium Portrait (worth $10 less). I almost completed my purchase before I realized their error, and had to discuss with customer service to get it fixed. 

  2. The binding shown on their website here (under Binding) shows a fabric reinforced spine, like my MILK Book has. In reality, as you can see above, it is just a glued spine. I think this is misleading, and customer service responded to my email about this issue as follows: "In regards to your inquiry, if you are referring to the headband and tailband (the green tape with stripes) on the picture provided, this is for cosmetics only. Our old books used to have this but it has the same binding type as what you have on the order. It was removed last year since it' only purpose is for cosmetics. It doesn't really strengthen the spine. It's the same type of binding for the old and new books."
I'm glad I was able to reprint my China trip book somewhere to replace the Mixbook one, but I think ultimately, I do prefer having lay flat pages and higher quality covers, so I don't think I will be ordering any more books with Photobook America (layflat or regular).

  • Great print quality and colour reproduction
  • Very nice paper (Superfine Eggshell upgrade)
  • No branding anywhere (logos or barcodes)

  • Cover feels a bit cheap
  • Binding does not have the fabric reinforced spine (headband/tailband) 
  • Promotions/marketing strategy is generally annoying and complicated

Additional Reviews
I was not able to find any reviews on the Superfine Eggshell upgraded paper, unfortunately.

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