Shutterfly Photo Book VS PastBook: the Comparison

Shutterfly is a recognized, well-established photo book publisher that has been around since 1999, offering a range of photo services: apart from photo books, Shutterfly prints other personalized products such as cards, posters, calendars, pillows, phone cases, mugs, etc.

PastBook is a young, quickly growing company specialised in providing its customers with the most frictionless experience of creating a high-quality photo book. PastBook is appreciated for its easiness and integration with the most social media out there.  

We asked three people from three different demographic groups to create photo books with Shutterfly and PastBook and share their experience with us. Please meet Mike, a marketing student in the University of Florida, FL, the USA; Emily, a proud mom of three from Ottawa, Canada; and Scott, a retired engineer from Bellingham, WA, the USA.

We carefully picked the participants who use the same computers (Mac), the same browser (Chrome) and who have never created a photo book before: neither with Shutterfly, nor with PastBook.


We asked the participants to think of a book that they would like to create: it could have been related to any occasion, contain as many pages as they want, customised according to their tastes. They could take as much time as they need in order to make a photo book that leaves them completely satisfied. To make the comparison fair and to set all the variables equal, we asked the participants not to use functions that one company has and the other doesn’t, like PastBook’s “Relive the Year” function for Facebook or Instagram – where with one click you can collect all the photo stories from a particular year and turn them into a photo book.

We asked our focus group to pay attention to the following parameters:

  • Intimidation factor. Were you intimidated or confused by the website, before even signing up or starting creating the photo book? Scoring from 5 (not intimidated at all) to 1 (very intimidated, please don’t make me do it!)
  • Easy to upload. How easy is it to upload the photos? Scoring from 5 (very easy) to 1 (it is incredibly difficult and annoying)
  • Easy to create and edit. How easy is it to create and edit the photo book? Scoring from 5 (very easy) to 1 (please, let me quit this experiment NOW!)
  • Time spent. How much time did it take you to create a photo book?
  • Overall satisfaction. Are you satisfied with the results? Scoring from 5 (extremely satisfied) to 1 (a complete waste of time)


Mike, 22. Gainesville, FL, USA

Mike studies marketing in the University of Florida, and it wasn’t easy to convince him to participate in our experiment. No wonder, end of the academic year implies not only exams, but also different campus activities, events and graduation parties. However, after taking a couple of days to think about our proposition, Mike realised that it could be a good idea to create a yearbook for the whole course.

I am not a big fan of standard yearbooks – they usually look dull. I have quite a lot of photos of my friends that I took throughout the whole year, so I wanted to collect them all, print them out in a photo book and make a small present for all of my classmates.

Project:  Shutterfly Yearbook

Intimidation factor 3/5
Easy to upload 4/5
Easy to create 3/5
Time spent 3 hours
Overall satisfaction 3/5



Honestly, the feeling of confusion couldn’t leave me throughout the whole process of creating the yearbook with Shutterfly. The site is very slow and frustrating: I got lost immediately, not being able to find the right template and then spending hours on customising it. I didn’t really like that Shutterfly’s cropping tool randomly cuts people from my photos and I had to spend a lot of time on finding the layout that would satisfy me. The photo book turned out to be fine, but I guess that Shutterfly will better fit someone who has a lot of time and is willing to spend it on trying out different layouts, playing with backgrounds and swapping pages for millions of times.

shutterfly yearbooks


Project: PastBook Yearbook

Intimidation factor 4.5/5
Easy to upload 5/5
Easy to create 4/5
Time spent 5 minutes (+1 day of waiting for my friends to add their photos)
Overall satisfaction 5/5



The best thing about PastBook is that the website is very clear, simple and fast: no confusing templates or layouts, the  uploading process took me just a few seconds, I could easily connect to all the social networks and import the photos from there. It is also amazing that you can invite friends to collaborate and create a yearbook together! I hate spending too much time on things and the opportunity to have half of the work done by someone else seemed perfect to me. It took me less than 5 minutes to create a book which seemed very satisfying to me. I sent out the invitations to my friends, so that they could upload their photos and by the evening the photo book was ready! Eventually, I ended up with an album with much more photos than I had with Shutterfly, the process was very smooth, the whole course participated in creating the photo book, so that no one felt left out; and finally, PastBook offers great discount on the bulk orders. Overall, very good experience!

pastbook yearbook


Emily, 34. Ottawa, Canada

Emily juggles her job as a freelance interior designer with bringing up three kids, and still finding some time for her multiple hobbies: cooking, crafting, writing a blog and many more. Being a busy woman, she still kindly agreed to participate in the experiment and created a family photo book.

I have been thinking about making a family photo album for a very long time but never had enough time or motivation to sit down and get it done. This experiment is a great opportunity for me to finally organise all my kids’ photos and make something meaningful!

Project: Shutterfly Family Photo Book

Intimidation factor 3/5
Easy to upload 5/5
Easy to create 3/5
Time spent 2 days
Overall satisfaction 4.5/5



I liked that Shutterfly offers a lot of different themes and templates to choose from. I really enjoyed playing with the layouts, personalising the photo book: a great way to express my creativity! However, it took me ages to understand how the site works: the software is quite confusing. On the whole, I spent 2 days on the project until the book looked perfect. I was completely satisfied with the result and I thought that the book was worth the time and effort I spent on it. However, if not for the experiment, I don’t think I would put so much energy into this type of a project.

Shutterfly family book


Project: PastBook Family Photo Book

Intimidation factor 5/5
Easy to upload 5/5
Easy to create 4/5
Time spent 30 minutes
Overall satisfaction 4.5/5



PastBook has everything prepared for you: with a couple of clicks all your photos are uploaded and arranged in a stylish photo book. I actually liked that: being a mom of three kids, you are not used to the fact that someone is doing something for you :) The whole process of creating a PastBook was very pleasant and quick but I personally would like to see a bit more options on how to customise the photo book. PastBook is great for those who don’t want to spend much time and energy on the project but still want the result to be satisfying.

PastBook family book


Scott, 63. Bellingham, WA, the USA

Scott reads newspapers from his iPad, occasionally shops online and stalks his grandchildren on Facebook. Being a retired engineer, he likes devices and is curious about new technologies. This year he and his wife Martha have a 35-years marriage anniversary: we suggested him to make an anniversary photo book to mark all the milestones of their life together.

I have never used online photo services before and am very curious about the experiment. Moreover, I am sure, Martha will be very happy to get a gift like this!

Project: Shutterfly Anniversary Photo Book

Intimidation factor 2/5
Easy to upload 4/5
Easy to create 2/5
Time spent 2 hours
Overall satisfaction 3/5



I thought that creating a photo book can be challenging but I didn’t realise that it would be so complicated. The whole process of picking the templates, adjusting backgrounds, fixing the boxes with the captions was a bit too annoying for me. Actually, I quit after 2 hours: my Internet accidentally shut down while I was working on the photo book (I live in the country side, this can happen here sometimes), and the book wasn’t saved! There should be an autosaving option or something. I think that with Shutterfly you can make a beautiful scrapbook but only if you have enough time and patience.

sutterfly anniversary


Project: PastBook Anniversary Photo Book

Intimidation factor 4/5
Easy to upload 4/5
Easy to create 5/5
Time spent 45 minutes
Overall satisfaction 4.5/5



I really liked that the whole process of creating a book took me less than 5 minutes! I was generally pleased with the simple layout and the possibility to make small adjustments: changing the background colors, adding some captions, etc. I eventually ordered the book, and it all took me less than one hour! By the way, PastBook offers a 10% discount if you manage to create your photo book in less than 2 hours. And this is always good news!

pastbook anniversary

To recap: Our focus group pointed out the main differences between Shutterfly and PastBook. While Shutterfly remains a leader in scrapbooking, PastBook offers the most frictionless experience in creating a photo book. If you are ready to spend days on creating a perfect, one-of-a-kind scrapbook, check Shutterfly out! If you value your time and energy but still want to end up with a good quality product, PastBook is to your service.

Create your PastBook Photo Book now!

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