Take advantage of the POD, people.

Great, you've got a bunch of photos. I've got 15,790 (who's counting?). What do you do with them?For years I've posted them to the web. Works great, but darn if people aren't analog junkies.After coming home from the most recent wedding, Olivia and I decided to give the bride and groom a photo book as part of the wedding gift. There are a ton of different sites for doing POD (print-on-demand) photo books. Overwhelming really. I decided on SharedInk.com after researching, and especially after this article at Nikonians.org. Requested access to the pro-program, and away we go.In the process of creating our first book, I ran into a few various "learning experiences".  I can't escape without a mini-review however. Sharedink is for people who know what they are doing. It is not a replacement for iPhoto. If you can't use photoshop, stay away. They tell you how many pixels the page is, the gutter size, and that's it. You're on your own. All the rope in the world to hang yourself. You upload (preferably via FTP) a ZIP of JPGs. Their website is almost a joke - it's Web 1.0 old skool, but not in the cool way. It's fast enough, and it works. The book, is awesome.

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First, I want to call out the cover and binding. It's a thing of beauty. Beautiful linen, a real hardcover book binding. It's basically perfect, there's not at thing more I would ask for. I read online all the time that people find this the #1 issue in books. I wouldn't know - this is the only book I've ordered so far, and it's ideal.The interior quality is wonderful as well. The paper is thick (so thick the book won't lie open. Check out the photo below - I had to bend the book >180 degrees to get it to stay for a few seconds). The printing is really nice - sometimes a bit dark, sometimes a bit light, never as good as a inkjet, but good enough that I'm ordering many more!What did we learn?

  • You must consider the righ/left page interaction. On a few pages, I have one photo on each, with one slightly taller or shorter than the other. It looks dumb.
  • A corollary: on my 8" (tall) x 11" (wide) book, the vertical dimension is MUCH more noticible. Play with the width, but make sure the vertical stuff aligns.
  • Second corollary: Careful how you bleed. Many of my pictures were wider than the page, so I bled off the left and right, and left a bit of white on the top and bottom. If there's <0.5" on the top or bottom of the page, it just looks like I made a mistake in printing. Interestingly, the same is NOT true for the vertical pictures, probably because they have more whitespace on the sides than the horizontals do on the top and bottom.
  • 20 pages = 40 sides. As you go through and lay things out, you begin to feel like maybe it's all repettive, and try and come up with new designs. Don't. Pick a few, and use them. It's OK to repeat. By all means, be creative. Go crazy (some of those worked out great!) But don't do it because you think the book will be boring, it won't be.
  • That linen picks up dirt! I ruined this first book in <10 min. Water, a touch of grease, anything, the Linen seems to suck it up. This spot is after we tried to clean it up. The cover has a few spots too now. Just be careful.
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  • I love how the dual-page spreads work out! Full bleed really works well, and being slightly asymmetrical really pays off. As with anything, don't overuse it. And be aware that the middle part will dissapear. In this picture, there are 5 bridesmaids, but only 4 show up in the spread!
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Good luck! This was super fun, the results are great, the costs not unreasonable. Maybe after 5 years I'll finally do something about my own wedding photos!