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American Greetings PhotoWorks {Review}

The tough part about living thousands of miles away from my family is that my son won’t get to know those who are so dear to me.  I may talk to them about the awesome things he does each day (that he wasn’t able to do six months ago), but they aren’t around to see the priceless expressions on his face.

Thank goodness for digital cameras.

It’s so easy to capture the joy and laughter sparkling in my son’s eyes with a quick snap of the lens.  Then, I have to get a little more proactive about it an edit the photo, and print it out, or (even better) publish it in a photo book to share with family.

I’ve done both, but the photo books are always a huge hit.  Want to know what to give grandparents or great grandparents for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, or the Holidays?  Photo books of your family or kids are key–they’re priceless for family who don’t live in your same neighborhood.

So, now that you know exactly what you’re going to create for your parents and in-laws, which photo book site do you use? If you google “photo books”, no fewer than 30,700,000 results are available.

In the past two years, I’ve personally purchased photo books from five different companies, and I’ve created photo book projects on using a total of eight.

By far the most user-friendly site, the one that’s easiest to upload photos, and the fastest loading site for project updates is American Greetings PhotoWorks–specifically their new Studio books.

For example, instead of being confined to Javascript to upload photos, or the seemingly slow browser update that’s common to a number of photo book sites, American Greetings PhotoWorks gives you the simple option of drag and drop to select photos.  It’s THAT easy.  You don’t have to wonder if img_9891.jpg  (that you forgot to rename) is the actual image you want to upload, because you can literally see the thumbnail and drop it into the photo bucket. And, you’re done!

I created a Baby-themed studio book (Grayson), and there are three other options (wedding, travel, and everyday).  Each Studio book has the following features:

  • 8.5″ x 11″ hardcover book
  • Printed on archival quality paper
  • Features a stitched binding
  • $39.95 for 20 pages
  • $0.99 for each additional page (80 pages maximum)

The Baby-themed books are available in two options: Grayson (boy) and Madison (girl).  You’re not limited to the traditional baby blue and pastel pink pages, but there are options for you to select backgrounds in various colors that coordinate with the overall book theme.

For example, the Grayson book used turquoise, orange, brown, white, and pastel shades of those same colors throughout the book, plus stars, alphabet letters and numbers.  Since my son is no longer a “baby” {although he’ll always be MY baby}, I avoided the pages with onesies or the words baby.  However, that would have been GREAT for his first year book.  The background menu was easy to find, and simple to use.

Once I uploaded the photos I wanted to use, I just right-clicked and dragged it to where I wanted to place it on the page.  Once a little green “plus” sign popped up, I released the mouse, and the photo was set.

If I didn’t like the background, I changed it with ease.  If I wanted to put 3 photos on a page instead of two, then I could change the layout options with the layout menu.

If I didn’t like the way the PhotoWorks set a photograph by default, it was very easy to resize the photo or shift its positioning within the photo “frame” by simply using the mouse to click on an arrow indicating the direction I wanted to shift the photo, or a sliding scale to re-size a photograph.

Need more in-depth explanation of the menu options and how to work them effectively, then check out the tutorial video on the right sidebar of the Studio books site.  Hand-holding you to completion.  Nice.

Creating the studio book was super easy, and FAST.  Usually, I’ll spend a week creating a photo book on other websites because I’m waiting for the slow photo upload, or I’m fighting with the layout settings that aren’t quite working for my pictures.  I was truly amazed that the American Greetings Studio book creating process took me only one solid hour to build 20 gorgeous pages.

One hour of my time to create a loving gift that will be treasured over and over again for years.  That’s what I call a return on investment!

The completed 20-page book totaled $39.99 plus $8.99 for shipping and handling.  I submitted the completed project after doing a preview, and it was completed and processed less than 12 hours later.  FAST turnaround!

Overall, it was the most satisfying photo book creation process I’ve experienced to date because of the ease of use and the fact that it required so little of my time…plus, it was printed and shipped, STAT.  I will return to American Greetings PhotoWorks again to create studio books of our family travels and grandparent gifts for Christmas.

Note to American Greetings Photoworks: In future upgrades, I’d love to see more theme options.  Please don’t limit baby books to pinks and blues, but give more colors and thematic options.  I’d love to see a huge library of colors and themes for everyone’s taste.  A baby book with toile backgrounds in various colors–precious!  A book for kids with \colorful letters and numbers as backgrounds can help parents create a sign language or vocabulary book to share with their children.

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of American Greetings PhotoWorks and received a free photo book to facilitate my review.  Read my full disclosure policy.

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