Questions answered about making your photo book


This is the seventh in a series about creating photo (and other) books to help you, your family, and future caregivers focus on the richness and significance of your life - instead of primarily on infirmities you might develop.

Q: Does every page have to be laid out the same way?

A: No. If the service you've chosen has this restriction, try a different service. At, for example, the style "bestseller" (one of ten styles) offers 137 different layouts for each page.

Q: Do you have to put the same number of photos on each page?

A: No, each page can have from 0 to 12 photos.

Q: What if I don't like any of the layouts?

A: At some services, such as, you can add, delete, resize and move text boxes and photo boxes (spaces for words and pictures) as you like. At other services, such as Costco, the options are more limited.

Q: All I do with my photos is shoot them. Do I have to know a lot about photo editing to make a photo book?

A: No, you can just drag in your photos and create a photo book with them as is. The book software will not change them.

Q: How much does it cost?

A: It varies. At, a 20-page 11.25" x 8.75" photo book costs $29.99, and an extra $0.99 per extra page. I myself create books, then wait for a 50 percent off sale to buy hard copies. At Costco, a 30-page book with the same dimensions is $19.99.

Q: Are there hidden costs that push the price up?

A: It depends. For example, offers some compelling options, such as lay-flat pages which make it possible to see the entire page and not lose part of it in the binding, and super-gloss printing which makes the pages look and feel almost laminated and thus protects them against spilled coffee, etc. At undiscounted rates, these two services could add $35 to the price of the book. But you don't have to select them. However, shipping is extra and the rates are much steeper than rates elsewhere online such as at Amazon.

Q: How long does it take to make a photo book?

A: It depends entirely on how much you fiddle with your photos before dragging them into the photo book; how much you tinker with layouts, typefaces, font sizes, and font colors; how much you write; and how much you edit text you have written. That said, it took us about 80 person-hours to create our first 70-page photo book with a lot of text. That included time for sorting through 1300 photos and Photoshopping 50-60 of them. Last year, it took me about 20 hours (mostly on a laptop on airplanes and in hotel rooms) to create an 82-page book with a lot of text that was equally well received. A few weeks ago, it took about 4 hours to create a 32-page book with less text than we usually include. offers a hands-off option that creates a book for you in two minutes, simply putting digital photos in order by date shot. (I don't see this as ideal, because I think including stories is very important.)

Q: What's the most pages I can have in a photo book?

A: It varies by service, but 100 pages is typical.

Q: Sounds great, but I'm really busy. I'll do this in a few years when I won't be as busy.

A: No, you won't. You won't have any more time in five years than you have today. You may start to forget the stories that go with the pictures. You or a family member may develop serious medical problems. You may lose the pictures to fire, flood, etc. The only time you're going to see those pictures is when you move, and open those shoeboxes in the basement to see what's inside. That's the last time anyone will see them until the next time you move after that - or until your kids are cleaning out your house. If you ever want to reap the benefits that having photo books can offer you and your family, do it now.

To tell your story, write to Bewley's latest book, a collection of 40 articles from this column, is available locally at Hastings and at Peregrine Books and online at Amazon. It is titled "Not Your Grandmother's Nursing Home: Demystifying Today's Retirement Living Options."

Elizabeth L. Bewley