After having so much fun creating my first photo book a few months back, I had to create another one. I always wanted to give my friend from the Ballard Terminal Railroad a little gift. They are such nice people and I had an awesome time with them photographing the train and their operation.
I wanted to try a new service and found Zno.com. They placed an advertisement on Instagram for a free photobook. After contacting them, they send me a voucher code, which was valid for one week. I was worried that I couldn’t make the deadline as my day job was just taking most of my attention all week long. In the end, I was able to create the photobook within the deadline and have it submitted for print.
The offer was good for one specific photo book.
Zno 8×8 Little Black Book with a Hard Cover and 24 Pages
The “Little Black Book” is literally a pure photo book. It has only a few options regarding the book size and material and focuses mainly on displaying images. You have the option to choose between a book with a size of 6×6 inches or 8×8 inches. For the cover, you can choose between a Paper Cover or a Hard Cover and it always has 24 pages, no matter which other options you selected earlier. That means you have to find at least 24 + 1 image for the cover if you want to have a unique picture on every page.
The book starts at its smallest size with a paper cover at $30 USD and goes all the way up to $50 USD if you choose the bigger size and go with the hardcover option.
Designing the Little Black Book
The whole design process is online and based on their in-house built, browser-based ordering system Zno Designer™. You need absolutely no experience in designing your photobook. Most of the design is done per drag&drop. All you need to use the designer is to create an account.
Photos can be uploaded directly from your computer or from either Google Photos or Facebook. I always go with the direct upload method myself. First I don’t like that all kinds of services have access to my Facebook and Google account, even tho they just get limited permissions. Second, my images are usually in my Lightroom catalog and it’s just easier for me to export them and upload them to Zno. They offer a Lightroom Publish Service to directly upload to Zno but it seems you have to sign-up for the $50 USD/year Pro plan.
Image Ownership and Copyright
Ownership of Uploaded ImagesZno agrees that you retain all legal rights to the images that you upload. You are responsible for your images, and you may edit or delete your images. Zno will use your images to manufacture photo products per your request. Zno will only use your images in promotional materials with your express permission.
Design and Layout
By choosing the Little Black Book you only have a very limited amount of creative design options within design software. As mentioned earlier you can add 24 photos inside your book and an additional one, if desired, for the cover of the photobook. However, there is no option to add any photos to the back of the book. The back cover and the spine of the book can be colored with 10 different colors. Both, the back and the spine of the book will always have the same color. The text on the spine is, unfortunately, limited to 22 characters.
Overall there are four different layout options as you can see below. I would recommend using images that can be viewed in a square crop. Even tho you use one of the other layouts, where you get to see more of your landscape-oriented photos, the aspect ratio of these “frames” on the page is fixed. You still have to move your images around to get the best part of the picture. I used the photos I took with my Canon 5D Mk II which have an aspect ratio of 1.5. All of them were bigger than the frames offered, even tho it was just a mild crop, it’s noticeable if you want to get the full picture on a page. Another small downside of this photobook, you can’t have an image stretch over two pages. There has to be either one image per page or you can leave the page completely empty.
If you want to get creative you could create crop your photo to an aspect ratio of 4:2 and then split it in the middle. This would give you two images with an aspect ratio of 1:1. Therefore you can place one on either side of a page. It’s a little bit more work you have to do yourself, but possible. I would rather have the option within the designer itself.
There are also no additional design elements you could add. This means you can’t add any frames, text, or other smaller images to the page. This is unique to this specific photo product – The Little Black Book. Other books offered by Zno offer way more customization, all within the same designer.
If needed, you can move pages freely back and forward inside your book, but you always have to move a double-page. Obviously, you can’t move the cover/back to any other position.
Preview and Share your Photobook
Once you are done “designing” your Little Black Book, you can open a web preview of the book by clicking on Preview at the very top of the page. If you want, you can also share a link to this preview with someone else or embed it into a website. The other side doesn’t need a Zno account to view the preview.
Ordering the Photo Book
Once done, all you need to do is click on “Order” in the top right corner of the screen. This will bring you to the order screen. Here you can decide how many copies you want to order or if you want to add a gift box or gift package.
This is also the place where you will enter your coupon code if you have one. Zno is running many promotions on their website, just keep the eye open for them. In my case, I had a coupon code, which would give me the Little Black Book for free and therefore bring down the price to $0.
Click at the button on the bottom to continue to the shipping options. Even tho my photo book was free, I still had to pay the shipping costs.
There are two options for shipping. Standard (8-12 business days) for $7 and Priority (5-7 business days) for $17. I decided on going with standard shipping.
From the shipping page, you will continue to the payment page. You have the option to pay either with Paypal or credit card and submit your order.
My book was printed in China. I noted that, when I used the tracking number to track my shipment and when it will actually arrive. Even while only selecting Standard shipping, my book arrived 5 days after submitting my order. Not bad for coming from China and even faster as advertised.
The finished Product
The book got delivered in a cardboard box just a little bit bigger than the book itself but adding extra space all the way around to avoid damages during shipping. Inside the book was in another sealed clear plastic bag. This helps to protect the book against liquids.
The cover and the back of the book are very smooth when you touch it and feels like a high-quality book. Once you open the book you see two black pages before the first page with photos appear. Every page is printed on very thick material. The pages don’t bend and stay basically flat. When you put the pages down flat, you can easily print a photo over two pages without losing detail. As mentioned earlier, you have to do this with a little trick yourself, as the design software doesn’t officially support that feature for the Little Black Book.
The colors are great and just like the originally submitted photos. All pages with photos have a nice texture and are somewhat semi-glossy. Meaning the pages reflect a little bit of light without actually ruining the viewing experience. Sorry if these are the wrong terms for this kind of paper and print as I am not too deep into this material.
The Little Black Book is a nice book and perfect as a gift. A downside to these books is the limited option to edit the book in the Zno Designer. But if you want to get creative you can write in the book yourself or add stickers. Which will make it really unique.
One great advantage of Zno is that the photos remain on Zno’s website and your project is saved as well as long as you don’t delete either one. This is great if you want to reorder future copies of the book you designed. Unfortunately, there is no automated ordering process for customers without a Pro subscription to Zno. You will have to fulfill that for your customers. If you are worried about your privacy and data, you can always delete the project file and all the photos from the server.
There is no brand logo anywhere on or in the book. Which is great and gives the book a very professional look. No extra fee is needed to remove and brand logos.
I received a coupon to get this book for free. However, all the opinions in this post are my own and were not influenced in any way by Zno or any other company or person.
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.