I’ve finally committed this summer to getting my digital assets in order. This consists of getting everything up on Google Photos, digitizing my numerous old MiniDV tapes from when the kids were young, and finally producing some decent photo books from my vast archive of family pics.

There’s a million photo book services, including the grandaddy Shutterfly. Most of them have fairly terrible interfaces and appear to produce pedestrian results. Some of the advanced ones have desktop apps that you download and use to construct your book locally (ick!). I tried a couple and they were pretty obtuse. Finally I stumbled on Montage which I’m pretty happy with.

The killer feature for me with Montage was direct import from Google Photos. This works on an album basis, so my workflow was to create an album in Google Photos with all my source photos and then import this set into Montage.

What happens after import is really cool. Rather than forcing you to painstakingly layout all your pages, Montage just automatically generates the whole photo book for you. It randomly groups photos into sets and then puts each set onto a page in one of a bunch of different page templates:

The templates are really nice. All sorts of interesting layouts with matting, insets, and such. Once you have your automatically generated book, then Montage includes a nice editor where you can re-arrange photos, add text, and even change the page template.

All told it took me about an hour to create a 20 page book with about 50 photos. I finalized my purchase and waited for the result. The final book is really nice quality. Great cover, and photos almost bleed all the way to the edge.

My only complaint is that large photos in the book seemed to have pretty poor resolution. I don’t know if this is some problem with the quality of the imported files from Google, a problem with the Montage production system, or just a limitation of my original photos. I did order the largest size book (12”x12”) so I’m sure that contributed. Also, the final book cost about $150 which is pretty pricey - I’m sure its more than other competing services. However, the middle size (8.5”) is only $79, so I’ll probably get that one next time and see how it goes.