Not too long ago I approached the folks at Keepsy.com to discuss supporting my hiding-and-seeking a photo book project. They had just released a new size book that was similar to the original books I hid around San Francisco and NYC, only hard bound. What caught my attention the most was when I was told they had just launched an app that would allow me to produce and print books right from my iphone without ever leaving the iOS. “What!?” I thought. This could be really amazing or be a real let down.
As a free app I had nothing to lose. So I quickly downloaded the app, and like a kid in a candy store, immediately dove into building a book.
Upon launching the app you land on a directory like page presenting different photo sets. These sets are empty folders that are titled with photo book ideas. Clicking inside the folks at keepsy describe the concept and generously give you some photo tips on how to successfully shoot that concept. Not bad for the everyday users.
Creating a new album that will soon become your new hard bound book is as easy as tapping the clearly visible plus symbol at the top of the page. The process really does continue to be simple. Choose where you want to pull images from, tap each which places a check mark on each individual image. Choose a name for your album and you’re almost done.
Clicking on your album you are shown your images in a really cool, dynamic scrolling gallery. Clicking on an individual image allows you to view the image in detail outside of the scrolling environment.
At the bottom of the screen are a number of tools allowing you to share your album digitally with anyone you choose, print, add images and browse. Choosing print is the magic button that allows you to build the book. But make sure you have at least 16 images otherwise you get a polite error message.
With at least 16 images you are told that your book is ready to print showing a well designed image of your book with default cover image and dimensions. This page felt a little out place to me. I was expecting to go right to the editing process not be shown a finished product with a preview button. It felt like an assumption, rather than invitation to explore the interface and tools to layout your book.
Clicking on preview I am shown the page layout of my book including the cover.The current price is clearly shown throughout the process. I like knowing where I’m at, especially if I’m on a budget, knowing the price at all times lets me know whether I can add images, or have to remove pages.
Note: When the tips on how to use the editing interface appears make sure to read through them. If not you may feel a little lost.
Now in the editing process of this app is where it really gets fun. The limitations to the app also make themselves known. There are no preset templates and the app really is simple. You can choose the background color of your pages, how many images you’d like on each page, limited to a maximum of 2, unfortunately. You also have basic control over your cover. This is the weakest, and most disappointingfeature of this otherwise amazing app. There really is no design options to the cover aside from choosing an image (no full-bleed available) just one image on a choice of background colors. The app does allow you to title your book using a max of 32characters. Not even a tweet. Have your title figured out before going to this app or you could get distracted from the design process while trying to pen a clever title. Unfortunately, you are not given any type face options, or choice in how to arrange your title on the cover. Nor is there an option to upload a custom cover. I guess you could as long as you integrate the text into the image in a separate type program like fonto.
As you near the end of the editing process you may decide that you don’t like the arrangement of the pages. No fear, you can rearrange your page layout but this takes a little getting use to. After click “arrange pages” your page layout appears, each page has “+” “-” symbols. These symbols are used to add and remove pages. To rearrange the flow its not as simple as just swiping pages into place with your finger. You must tap and hold a page until it starts to shake (don’t remove your finger.) Only then can you move it into place. This can become a very frustrating task, especially with 16 pages. As you move the page into its new position the page scrolls down and pages rapidly move around to fill in gaps throughout the layout. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Just don’t try doing it while editing on the train or the bus. The first time I tried this I found it a little challenging.
Once you feel confident with your beautiful book click “order.” You are sent through the normal e-commerce windows mailing address, payment and quantities. The book ships pretty fast, was packed nicely, protecting my book inside.
One issue I really have with this app is that once you create your account, you know, contact info. It disappears and there is no way to edit this info within the app or online. Unfortunately for me when I first set-up my account I entered a typo in my email address. If any updates were being sent about the production or shipment of my book I would never had received it. I had to email their customer service and ask to have it manually corrected in their data base. I really hope this is something they update in future updates.
The quality of the book was pretty nice. Though, I would warn against stressing the binding. I opened my book to test the quality. I opened to any given page and tried to crease the binding so it freely stated open at that page. I was quickly introduced to their binding style. Each book is perfect bound not with a glued spine but stitched with a heavy duty thread. As I stressed the pages I could see the stitching in the gutter of the pages.
Honestly, I am being harsh here. No one would ever put their book through this much stress, well except my 2-year old daughter. So take the quality for what it’s worth. It is a reasonable priced book that I can create literally anywhere from my phone. And if it’s life is spent on a book shelf getting a little action from you or your guests fromtime-to-time it’ll be fine.
I really like this app and what it offers me. This unique and amazing app is new and definitely could benefit from some updates. Once you get the hang of the editing interface and receive your first book it may just become one of your most used apps. I have made 2 books so far and will definitely continue using it.