What Makes You Buy A Photobook?

What Makes You Buy A Photobook?

Digital cameras might have all but killed off the film market, but they don’t appear to have totally dented our enthusiasm for physical photos. An analysis by Futuresource Consulting suggests that we’re increasingly keen on photobooks (entire bound collections of photos, often centred on a single theme). Sales are expected to grow 25 per cent, with the US alone seeing 25 million sold this year, rising to 29 million in 2012.

There don’t seem to be directly comparable statistics for Australia, but there’s no shortage of places offering the service. I must admit I’m an entirely digital guy when it comes to viewing photos these days, so the only context I can imagine generating a photobook would be as a gift for someone. Is there anyone out there who buys them for themselves? What are the considerations you use when choosing between providers? Tell us in the comments.


  • About two months ago I bought a photobook. It was a portfolio to show clients looking to hire me for photography related stuff. What I was most interested in was:

    * PDF to book
    * Excellent picture reproduction
    * Cheap (as my portfolio changes and I want to keep the book up to date)

    I eventually went with Blurb which was about $85 for about 50 pages (I think) because they offered everything i was after.

    Only catch was, their books needed to be submitted as CYMK which killed a lot of my photos that had a lot of bright greens in them (e.g. green light painting, grass and trees were OK)

  • The only time I can think of getting a photobook for myself would be for a landmark occasion in my life: my 21st, wedding, etc.
    Otherwise, like you, I’m totally digital.

  • I read an article awhile ago, or was it a doco,.. anyway the guy was lamenting the loss of those photos that people would take but not necessarily want in their albums, because of the cultural loss of information that would prove to be useful to Anthropologists years later. Unfortunately latter day photographers tend to just delete those candid shots that underlie the gritty real life of people in the past!

    • How right you area. My wife and I were discussing this the other night. I told her the best way to be remembered by future generations is to put it in book format. If not be people excavating thousands of years in the future, but great great great grandchildren (who probably won’t be all that great)

      Or you could whip up something with an Arduino (for blog cred) that lets you turn a crank to display a picture or something.

  • We used Blurb for our wedding album (we just got photos from our friends rather than be held hostage by a photographer), but I don’t recall the reason we picked them. The photo book was much more convenient than printing and scrapbooking, and we gave extra copies to our parents afterwards.

  • Photobooks make great gifts and are fantastic ways to turn an experience into a structured memory. It’s like creating a photo album except without the limitation of 6×4″ photos stuck under film.

  • I got one done by Picpress to document our honeymoon – a 6 week trek around Europe. I spent a lot of time on it and feel it really documents our trip well in about 60 pages. It wasnt cheap (about $250 i think) but i paid extra for quality including the lay flat pages.

    All well worth it i think. Friends and family have wanted to see photos of the trip and rather than bore them with 2000 photos of famous landmarks, we can show them the trip in 5 mins in this book.

    The secret is, don’t go overboard on photos, avoid filling it with pictures of the eiffel tower and big ben (and if you do include these, try to make them a bit more interesting) and include plenty of candid shots.

    It now sits in the bookshelf next to the wedding album.

  • Books can sit on the coffee table, attracting attention and enabling casual browsing by yourself or by guests in a way that no available digital format will allow.

  • I like the photobook, because it’s much more interesting than the usual holiday happysnaps, or a pile of photos in an envelope.

    You can structure the photobook much better, with different sized images, and themes for each section, and caption them, if necessary.

    Overall, it’s a much more organised experience for the reader, where they can either figure out from context what the photo is of, or from text explanations, instead of someone walking them through each identically sized photo.

  • I’m in that camp of people who recognise the convenience and efficiency of digital but still love the tactile experience of quality paper and well made products.
    I’m in the middle of making a wedding album at the moment through Photobook Australia and enjoying the creativity of the process.
    Having said that, I’m not in the business of cranking out a photobook for every holiday, road trip, special occasion I ever have. I find they have the potential to be a bit..self obsessive (for lack of a better term).

  • I too have been doing books for a while, just because I think photos are more enjoyable on paper than on screen. And I think they’ll be around longer too; I have CDRs that are only 10 years old and are no longer readable (and then there are the ZIP drives and floppy disks). I’ve done books with a few companies with mixed results and have settled on Momento.

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