MILK Books are a New Zealand based company who make gorgeous photo books. They recently teamed up with Moleskine, a company known for their legendary notebooks to create something quite spectacular; the Moleskine + MILK photo books.
The specific product that I’m reviewing is the Moleskine Photo Album with the ‘Contemporary’ theme, a black cover and 60 pages.
Creation of the Photo Books
I’ve had previous bad experiences with creating photo books, with clunky Windows-only desktop software and half-baked web interfaces leading to a horrible photo book. These photo books are created on MILK’s website, the interface and usability is much better than any photo book company I’ve used before, but still not perfect.
My main quibble with it is that the builder is built in Adobe Flash which will disappoint some of you Flash-haters, but I’m told that a mobile app solution is a priority for them.
The painless process of importing photographs to their book builder can be done at any point in the book-building process, and there is no shortage of options about where to import your photos from. The options are to upload from your computer, Facebook, Flickr or Picasa.
Uploading from Facebook is a really neat feature, it’s ideal for those who use it as somewhat of a journal, uploading albums of photos from important events or even just general pictures. It would be great if I could import from 500px, though. Especially because a lot of the big players are moving over to 500px from Flickr.
There are several options in the creation of your Moleskine photo album. The colour of the cover, you can choose from either black or a light brown shade. There is a label on the front of the book and on the photo album, also on the box case. I didn’t notice the tab to edit the box case label because the little tab isn’t very pronounced in the UI, so mine came without it. The third design option is text and colour, here you choose the text theme and colour scheme of your book.
The books already have a pre-built layout inside them in the editor, for speed you can adhere to this or you can change each page’s layout individually. You have 24 layouts to choose from, plus a couple more if you choose to have half of a photo on each page creating a full-page spread. There’s even options to have a full page of text for those who have a real story to tell.
To create a full page spread, just find the dimensions of one page of your photo book and double the width, crop your photo to be these dimensions then put it onto both pages and pull it all the way left on the right and all the way right on the left.
Pro tip: the square books are 1×1 or 1×2 for two pages.
Arguably the best additional feature ever, collaboration lets you work with friends and family on your photo book. And as a host, you need to approve each change they make; non-destructive photo book editing! This is an amazing feature for creating photo books after special events like Christmas, especially when your family aren’t together. Think of it as distance-scrapbooking.
Using Facebook, Twitter, or email, you can share the first 10 pages of your photo book with friends, family and followers.
With your order, you also get a free downloadable PDF flip-book, download mine here.
The Photo Album
It took a couple of weeks for the photo album to be delivered to me. It was shipped via FedEx in their largest mail bag. The bag containing the photo album arrived looking suitably weathered, but with no real signs of damage, and the package inside was in pristine condition.
Of course, the photo album wasn’t just stuffed inside the FedEx mailer. It was inside a cardboard box with a neat sticker with my address on it, and inside that was a matte paper container. To open, one simply peels off a sticker and the gorgeous fabric of the box case is revealed.
The box case is great for presentation, but also storage. It opens much like a book and has padded foam inside, this can be adjusted according to how many extra pages you add to your book. On the front of this book, you can have a custom message printed; especially useful if you happen to find yourself collecting quite a few.
You expect the photo albums to be superb quality right from spending $130 on it, so it is no surprise that the box case containing the album is made from super-thick card and is obviously made to last. It is covered with soft-textured fabric in either black or light brown and has the elasticated band holding it closed, exactly like you find on Moleskine notebooks.
The book itself sure has a great aesthetic to it, and pulling it out of the box case with a ribbon is an exciting experience to see your work take on a physical form.
At first, I was somewhat disappointed by how thin the book is after pulling it out of the ~1” thick box, but I did get the base photo album with 60 pages. They are expandable up to a huge 200 pages.
The Moleskine photo album itself has the same textured gloss finish as Moleskine notebooks, and also has the same Moleskine logo. It even has the details to fill in on the first page in case of loss, and in the back is an expandable pocket containing the history of Moleskine. This is a fantastic collaboration between Moleskine and MILK.
On the front of the album is your chosen label text and a photo of your choice, this is a great idea, but I found that it’s not implemented in the highest quality fashion. There is a noticeable edge around the print that has been stuck on a lightly indented part of the front cover, and on mine there was a slight loose edge. Out of everyone I’ve shown the album to I was the only one to notice this, so it isn’t necessarily a gigantic issue.
The print quality inside the album is generally perfect and true to my colour-calibrated devices. The paper stock used in the albums and books is ivory-coloured fine matte. Details have been revealed fantastically and none of them seem over-sharpened, which can be a problem with some printers who assume that the client hasn’t already sharpened for print. The only issues I have with the quality is that in places, there seems to be additional noise compared to how it shows on my screen. This is usually in areas with a gradient which changes shade rather than colour which makes it mostly obvious in black and white photographs.
This is page 32 of the PDF:
With an easy to use builder and high-quality finished product, I think that the photo album is completely worth the $130 investment, and books are available for as little as $50. They are great for capturing memories permanently, especially Christmases, birthdays and other special occasions. View the whole range of Moleskine + MILK books and albums here.
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