This is one of an occasional series of product reviews. I was provided free product in exchange for this review, but the contents of the review were in no way influenced by the product provider.
 

One of my favorite things about digital scrapbooking is using my layouts over and over. I always print large silver halide prints for myself and put them in albums, but I love making photo books as gifts.

I’ve made books with Snapfish and Shutterfly before, but this time I got to try a company I’d not heard of before: Viovio. When they approached me and asked if I was interested, I was hesitant. I’d had some bad experiences with smaller companies and wasn’t sure if I wanted to take the time to upload a book’s worth of layouts then wait for the results. But they checked out as credible online (seemed to have a decent website, plenty of other reasonably happy reviews, a wide product line) so I decided to give it a go!

Ordering

Inevitably, the most painful part about making a photo book for me is… making the photo book! I save the .psd files of my layouts, and don’t make .jpg files until I’m ready to print. So I have to go see what I’ve not printed yet, open the files, save as .jpg, and only then am I ready to start.

The Viovio interface was fairly simple to figure out, but really slow. So slow I ended up letting it run while I changed windows and read email or hung out on facebook. It was just fast enough to keep me from ditching the whole project, but slow enough that I was frustrated. I even closed out, rebooted, and started over, but it didn’t make a noticeable improvement. Still, eventually I got all the layouts uploaded, and found it really easy to move the pages around until I got them where I wanted them. From here on in, the ordering process was very easy, including using the gift certificate.

I decided to order a 8.5×8.5 inch Imagewrap Hardcover book printed on Premium Photo Paper and two 5×5 inch Perfectbound Softcover on Express Photo Silk Paper. I have other 8×8 photo books and wanted to see what difference the half inch made, and the two small books were, well… cute!

Oops

The following day I got an email from the Viovio support team indicating that part of my text fell within the trim line on one of the book sizes. They put the order on hold until I replied, which was probably smart. I was aware of the problem, and didn’t mind the trim, so I wrote back that it would be fine.

Waiting

It took a little longer than I’d like to get the books, but I think I’m a little spoiled by Persnickety Prints.

The two different sized books shipped separately, which I was not prepared for. A week after I placed the order I got an email that it shipped. There was no indication it was a partial order. I was so excited when the box came, but it seemed awfully light. I was right, it WAS light – only the 5×5 books were included. There was no indication on the packing slip that the other book was shipping separately, or when it was expected to ship.

Six days after the first shipment shipped, I got an email that another shipment had been made on the same order. I guessed this was the missing book, but again, the email did not indicate what had been shipped in that shipment. This was very disappointing, and confusing. Looking on the website was no help either.

The Books

The 5×5 books were adorable! The paper quality was great, the color reproduction was perfect, they were even lightly trimmed. The words we’d been worried about were just barely glanced by the edge, not noticeably trimmed.

But there was one problem – one page had a noticeable white blotch on it. I’m really surprised this got past quality control, telling me that they must not be inspecting the books as they come off the printer. The flaw was obvious enough and large enough that it would have been noticeable on even casual inspection.

I emailed the support address and waited. They responded and asked for a photo of the flaw. I’d already embedded a photo in the body of the email which apparently their email system had stripped out of the email. Doesn’t seem like a smart move for a company that deals with images. I resent the image as an attachment, and got a prompt answer that they’d be replacing the order. In a few days another two 5×5 books arrived, and they were both just fine.

I love these little books, but not all my layouts translated to that small size. Still, I could see making little books like these for specific events, or as gifts, and they were inexpensive

look at how much bigger that half inch is!

enough I could order them as party gifts or classroom presents.

The 8.5×8.5 book was the huge surprise! It was amazing! The size was absolutely perfect.

It seemed way larger than the other 8×8 books I’ve gotten, so much so that I had to go dig one up and see. It’s really just a half inch larger on each dimension, but the effect is of a much larger page.

Again the color was great, the pages were trimmed just like I thought they’d be, and the custom cover was beautiful. I like this book so much, I can’t imagine ordering an 8×8 from Shutterfly again.

Results

Despite the problems with the upload interface, I’d order from Viovio again. The products are good quality, and while they could do a better job communicating (and shipping complete orders), the service was acceptable. The pricing is middle of the road for books, and perfectly reasonable considering the excellent quality of the product. I appreciated them making my bad book good right away (with the bonus 2nd copy), though that never should have left the plant.

Next time you need a photo book, check out Viovio. You might be pleasantly surprised!

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2 Comments

  1. Zanne says:

    I love it when you do these… it is nice to have someone try something before you do.

    Thanks

  2. Lori says:

    I’ve used Viovio many times before for 8.5″ square books. I’ve never had a quality problem, like the white blotch, but it’s nice to know they’re so responsive about correcting it. Sadly accidents do happen and someone must have been having an off day not to notice. Speed in receiving your order has gotten slower as Viovio has gotten bigger (I placed my first book order with them in 2007 and it seemed like I got the book as soon as I hit complete on the order), but I’ve learned to add that into the equation when ordering and have never been displeased.

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