Disclosure: I did not receive monetary compensation for this post, but I did receive a sample to try so that I could write an honest review. All opinions are mine, based on my own experience, and were not influenced in any way by the company.
Okay, now y’all know that I’m a huge fan of Blurb books. I love their quality, their price, and their ease of use.
But when I was given the opportunity to try a Professional Line photo book from Saal Digital, I knew they were going to give Blurb a run for their money. Brett and I have been married for almost three years now, and I hadn’t gotten our wedding album made yet (shameful, I know—especially for someone who’s always telling people to print their photos…), so I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try out their services with something special.
Oh. My. Gosh. Guys, I LOVE it.
The quality is spectacular. That acrylic “glass” cover just looks so darn pretty, and I love the faux wood binding and back cover.
It’s also my first photo book with a layflat binding (I usually print yearbooks with too many pages), and I’ve gotta say, it’s a gamechanger. I was worried about some of the detail in spreads getting lost on the centerline, but the layflat binding made that a non-issue. And the gorgeous images taken by our talented photographer (Roger Sondrup) printed so well on the book’s thick, sturdy pages.
But there were a couple of hiccups to my delight with Saal Digital. First, the design process was much more complicated than I find with Blurb. I have used both Blurb’s native design program, BookWright, and their InDesign plugin, and either way, the process was easy and intuitive. I prefer the creative control of making my own templates, so I opted to use Saal’s InDesign plugin and blank page templates. I found their plugin a little more tricky to use than Blurb’s, and had to make a bunch of adjustments to the page templates to give myself a surface I was comfortable working with. Since I didn’t use the page builder on their website, I can’t speak to its ease of use, but I suspect it would be much more user friendly.
The upload process was a bit of a chore, too. It took a long time to upload all of my page files—to the point where I left the computer to wash dishes while I waited. But once the page templates were uploaded, the rest of the printing process was a breeze.
The other caveat is the price. Their cheapest photo book is $36.99 (almost a third more than a comparable book from Blurb), and that’s without the pretty acrylic cover. To get more pages, bigger formats, or more cover options, you definitely pay a premium—easily over $100. I will say that you get what you pay for, but the price makes it pretty prohibitive for me to get more books printed with Saal Digital. I could see myself printing with them again for another special occasion, but they probably won’t be my go-to for annual year books.
If you’d like to try Saal Digital, they’re currently offering a $25 off their high-end photo books until 9/30/20. If you miss the window, don’t worry—every time I’ve visited their site, they have been running some sort of discount or sale, which will help tremendously with the price. Let me know if you check them out and what you think! I’d love to hear about your experience.
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