I’ve used kodak, mpix, and mypublisher to make photo books. Photo books are press books where the images are printed on paper, usually using 4 color processing. I think mpix pictures look the best (truest color), followed closely by mypublisher, then kodak. For paper thickness, my ranking goes mypublisher, kodak, mpix (I’ve used their standard paper – they do offer upgraded paper options though). In my experience, the album building software on all three is pretty good, but mpix offers more flexibility in layout. I only use white backgrounds without borders, so I don’t have any input on the fancy colored/patterened page design templates any of them offer. On the issue you’ve had with kodak appearing to crop your image, you may be dropping a picture into a box in a template that’s a different size than the aspect ration of your photo. In my experience, they print pretty much how they look on your screen in terms of cropping/zoom. Some other things to think about when choosing between photo book companies are cover material options and page count.
Flushmout albums are gorgeous. The photos are printed on actual photopaper, which is then mounted to board-type pages. These albums are also more expensive than press books, and while there are a lot of album companies who make flushmounts, the majority of these companies only work with pro photographers. I know that mpix (their assembled album in the specialty products section) and somerset albums both offer flushmount albums to the general public, and I think there are a couple others as well. There are also wedding album design companies that will work with you to produce a flushmount album, much like a photographer would (Indigo Album Design, for example, which was in a WB blog sale post a week ago, for example). I don’t have any experience with any of these, so I can’t vouch for any of their products.
Adoramapix offers a photo book that has aspects of both a press book and a flushmount album. The pictures in their books are printed on photo paper, and the pages are bound in a way that allows each 2-page spread to lay flat, but the photopaper isn’t mounted to the board-type pages. I haven’t used this company yet, but their reviews on line (and on the WB boards) are very good. I’m itching to try them, and will most likely use them for our honeymoon album. There may be a couple of other photo book companies who also print on photopaper. Anyone know of any?
We opted to have our photographer make a flushmount album for us, but we used mypublisher to make albums for our family. While our flushmount album is pricey, it is completely worth it to us – we wanted an album that would be beautiful for our lifetime. We chose mypublisher for the family albums because they were running a 50% off purchases of $100 or more sale, and they had the right combination of features we were looking for. We’re happy with how the mypublisher books turned out, and my parents’ book made my mom cry, so mission accomplished on those bad boys 😉
Sorry for the crazy long post!