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Which Companies Use the Best Photo Book Paper

Have you ever wondered which companies offer the highest quality paper for printing photo books? Generally, the thicker the paper the better the quality, which means it's more durable with less chance of bending corners or wrinkling pages with frequent handling. Many companies offer photo paper with 100lb thickness, but what exactly does that mean, and are they all the same? Let's compare photo papers and find out.

First, below is a summary of the photo book services (listed alphabetically) I surveyed for paper quality, type and thickness. The chart is based on hardcover photo books and the standard paper. I have also noted any options available. Below the chart I will go into more detail on various paper types and what they mean.

Photo Book Paper Comparisons
Photo Book Company Paper Weight and Style
Mixbook 100 lb acid-free archival quality silk, semi-gloss paper
My Publisher 115 lb high-gloss archival-quality paper on Classic hardcover, 180lb heavyweight paper on Deluxe
Shutterfly 100 lb. acid-free glossy paper
Smilebooks

135lb acid free extra heavy digital print paper
Option: real photo paper (thick, lustre photo paper) with lay-flat binding for 8x8, 11x8 and 12x12 books.

Snapfish 110lb Mohawk clay-coated paper. According to Snapfish, this is the same paper that most coffee table books contain
Viovio Premium printing: 100lb Futura coated acid free photo book paper (uses 7-color Electroink process)
Express printing: 80lb Xerox Silk coated acid free photo book paper.

What is the paper weight

Paper weight, means the weight of 500 sheets of that particular paper. Most photo companies offer paper at a minimum of 100lb and MyPublisher.com has a paper that goes all the way up to 180lb, which would be very nice for a wedding photo book, and it offers lay flat pages. As a rule of thumb, the thicker the paper the better, but you can't consider just weight, you have to look at the texture (satin or matte finish vs glossy) and the stiffness of the paper. Does it bend or do the edges curl easily? Thicker paper tends to be more durable. Typically you want a fairly stiff paper to stand up to fingers turning pages.

Photo Silk vs Satin Paper

You'll find that many companies offer silk or satin paper or sometimes both. So what is the difference? Photo satin has a flat finish; there is no shine. Photo silk has a little shine, although it is is not the same slick glossy finish you'll see on magazines or prints. The attraction of photo silk is that it has a coating that helps protect the paper from spills and stains. Some people like a slightly glossy page to look more like a real photographic print.

I've made photo books with a number of companies including Snapfish,Mixbook, Viovio and Smile Books. I found all of them to have sturdy, high quality paper. Smilebooks had thicker paper and I really liked the feel of the paper. In terms of paper quality it is my favorite so far. It has a slight gloss but not magazine-glossy. They also offer lay-flat binding with pages printed on thick, lustre photo paper.

Photo Book Paper Comparisons
Photo Paper Options Mixbook My Publisher
Shutterfly
Smilebooks Viovio
Glossy
yes
 
yes
yes
yes
yes
Matte/Satin
 
 
 
 
yes
yes
Digital Silk Paper
yes 
 
 
 
 
yes
Acid-free archival
paper
yes
yes 
yes
yes
yes
yes
Paper Weight
100lb
115/180lb 
 100lb
135lb
110lb 
80/100lb 
FAQ
yes
yes 
yes
yes
yes
yes
READ REVIEW Mixbook Review My Publisher
Review
Shutterfly Review Smilebooks Review Snapfish Review Viovio Review

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Photo Books With Lay Flat Pages Getting Cheaper

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