I’m relatively new here in Switzerland (this time anyway…I was here before but that’s another story). Soon after I arrived I started to look for places that would print my family photo books. Having spent the last few years in the US, I came to rely on the wonderful services of Shutterfly. I’ve made many photo books with them. I am very familiar with their design platform and they have an amazing product offering at great prices. But I’m not prepared to pay for the shipping to Europe. I did once and it cost me almost as much as the photo book itself – ouch!
So now that we are holed up by COVID-19, we all have a bit more time on our hands. My thoughts turned again to my photo books – a project which I’m always several years behind with! I did a little research about the suppliers out there right now. And when 3 different people asked me for recommendations of where to get one made in Switzerland I decided to write a blog post and share what I found.
A new selection of online vendors
Many of the companies I used previously (in the early noughties) have disappeared, such as Apple’s iPhoto which stopped producing photo books in late 2018. Some companies acquired others (iFolor bought Fotolabo Club SA) and new Swiss suppliers arrived on the scene, as well as other European ones who were willing to ship to Switzerland. Supermarkets teamed up with photo book suppliers (Migros and Interdiscount) and other companies started offering their services through mobile phone apps. I looked at around 20 online vendors across Europe but for the purposes of this review I’m only comparing Swiss-based suppliers of photo books.
Before I get to my list of photo book suppliers, I want to make it clear that I do not use any of the vendors listed below for my professional photo books. For my clients’ photo books I use a high-end lab in Italy that I have used for many years (sadly closed for the time-being). I am happy to pay for the top-notch quality and service for my clients’ photo books but I am less demanding for my own personal photo books. They don’t need to be layflat, have thick paper, special finishes, custom covers, embossing etc. They are simply a photographic summary of my family’s journey through life together.
The effect of COVID-19 on photo book suppliers
At the time of writing some of the companies below are still operating. In addition, many are offering heavy discounts or free shipping – some until Easter. Hopefully the suppliers are actually benefitting from the population being house-bound.
My Review of Swiss Suppliers of Photo Books
My review of photo book suppliers is in alphabetical order. For the sake of time I did not make an ‘apples-for-apples’ comparison of photo books, so I did not compare prices and sizes etc. Instead I asked:
- can I order through my browser or do I have to download some software?
- can I order from my phone?
- what language the website is in?
- is there a wide choice of product?
- how environmentally-conscious is the supplier?
I also looked around in the local forums and Facebook groups for people’s general comments and feedback. Once you’ve narrowed down your choice of supplier, you’ll easily be able to compare prices if that’s what is important to you.
Lastly, I looked at the Trustpilot rating for shoppers. However, while this can be a useful guide when assessing a supplier, in some cases the rating cannot be truly indicative of a company’s service. Either there aren’t many reviews (iFolor.ch & Smartphoto.ch only have a couple) or there are none at all (BookFactory). Pixum on the other hand has thousands of reviews. So, read on for the summary of photo book suppliers in Switzerland…
Trustpilot Rating: N/A
The Bookfactory website is in French, German and English, which is a huge plus for me. They offer a great choice of layouts and highly customisable options, such as embossing. No quality rating by Trustpilot. However, BookFactory is highly recommended by this blogger at Swissfamilytravel who also did a lot of research about photo books in Switzerland. You can order online or download Bookfactory’s own design software. They also have an app for your phone.
Bookfactory supports the myclimate Foundation. When you order you are asked if you want Bookfactory to produce your order climate-neutrally. This means that the CO2 content of your order is converted into a small amount of money and added to the order total. The CO2 compensation goes directly to myclimate and the climate protection project in the Jura.
Trustpilot Rating: 4 out of 5
iFolor is an old Swiss company that has grown across Europe. It has a website in 4 languages including English, and it is certified CO2 Neutral. It offers a wide range of great quality products. You don’t need to download their software to order but if you do, your photo books are saved permanently. If you design online, you have 14 days to work on your photo book and place your order. They also have an app for the phone. Easy to use and quick delivery.
Trustpilot Rating 4.5 out of 5
Interdiscount outsources it photo book printing service to CEWE Fotobuch, which has the above rating. To order you need to download the CEWE design software; there is also an app for your phone. The website is in French and German. Orders can be combined with store offers. Products are delivered to you by mail. I have ordered regular prints through Interdiscount before and was impressed with the quality – although they weren’t the cheapest around.
Trustpilot Rating N/A
Very easy to order – a lot of people use Journi’s phone app. Apparently they have 1 million happy customers! You can also design from your computer – website is in English and German. One person on a local Facebook group said delivery is quick. The company prides itself on having a low impact on the environment: they have teamed up with Plant-for-the-Planet. A tree is planted for every order made on Journi. With the amount of photo books that I want to make they would end up planting a forest!
Trustpilot Rating 4.5 out of 5
Like Interdiscount, this supplier uses CEWE Fotobuch for its photo books. See comments for Interdiscount above.
Trustpilot Rating: 1.7
Part of a bigger European-wide printing company, myphotobook.ch offers a large selection of photo book sizes and finishes. You can create a photo book online without downloading their software – you have 16 days to complete your order. The website is in French and German. It’s not clear if this supplier is based in Switzerland or France. In any case the myphotobook.fr is not well rated on Trustpilot; myphotobook.co.uk rated 1.9 but myphotobook.de gets 4 out of 5.
Trustpilot Rating 2.7 out of 5
This Swiss-based company is part of the global Photobox company. It offers a large range of products and regularly offers steep discounts. The website is in German only although Google Translate can help with this. It appears that you can design your photo book online without downloading software. You also have an indefinite amount of time to work on your project – assuming you have saved your work – something that Photobox stresses repeatedly.
While the rating for the Swiss company is not great there were only a handful of reviews made. If you don’t mind paying for shipping or you are sending the photo book to someone in the UK or France, it may be worth considering Photobox.co.uk (rating of 4.7) and Photobox.fr (4.4).
Trustpilot Rating 4.7 out of 5
Another Europe-wide company. Rated 4.9 by over 60,000 of their customers. A good range of very high-quality products that have won multiple awards. Three ways to place an order a) online b) download Pixum’s Photo World Software c) their app for phones. Website is in German, French and Italian.
Pixum has been FSC certified since 2013 and they attach great importance to sustainability. Only certified environmentally friendly materials are used in Pixum’s photo books, from responsibly-managed forests.
Website: Saal Digital
Trustpilot Rating 3.7 out of 5
High quality products – professional quality at a more personal price. I like the high-end look of the finishing, covers and boxes for Saal Digital’s photo books. They are rated 4.8 by their own customers and I agree. I’ve ordered regular photo prints from Saal Digital before and thought the colours were very accurate – one of the first signs of good quality. However, at the moment their website is only in German. When I’ve ordered in the past I had to jump between the French and Swiss sites to make sure I understood what I was ordering! I guess you could rely on Google translating for you.
Trustpilot Rating 2.9 out of 5
Pros: Smartphoto is one of the largest suppliers of online photo products. This supplier offers a range of photo book options for all budgets. Lots of sizes, shapes and layouts of design. I particularly like the ‘Year in Review’ template. Seems that you can only order online – there is no software to download or navigate.
Cons: The website is in French and German. I found no reference to being environmentally-neutral. The Trustpilot rating of 2.9 is from just 2 reviews. Smartphoto.co.uk and Smartphoto.fr both have excellent ratings (4.4) which tells me that maybe the 2 reviews for the CH supplier just needed to vent a bit.
Trustpilot Rating 4.3 out of 5
Good quality products. Apparently when Apple stopped offering printing services in late 2018, Whitewall was one of the few companies it recommended. Their website is in French and German. To order you can either upload previously designed pdf files or design online in your browser. If using the 2nd option your photo book will be stored for up to 30 days. Products delivered by courier.
My opinion on Swiss photo books?
I haven’t made any photo books in Switzerland yet, but when I do I will choose Bookfactory, iFolor or Journi. Having a website in English makes it a lot easier to order. There’s also there’s the feel-good factor – I like the fact that these companies are actively protecting the environment.
There you have it! I hope you have found this review useful. If there’s anything you’ve spotted that isn’t correct, or if you know of any other suppliers that should be included, please let me know.
Otherwise, feel free to share with others who are also wanting to make their own photo books in Switzerland. As Journi says on it’s website: