Easy albums

Create custom hardcover photobooks and more with this interesting concept in publishing.

MyPublisher's BookMaker is a free photo album maker with a twist: You use it to create, organize, and edit your photo album, and then order online one of several printed photobook options at various prices, which are custom-printed and shipped to you. The choices range from paperback PocketBooks editions costing 10 bucks to coffee-table-style hardcover books that are three times more expensive, as well as calendars, postcards, and greeting cards. While we didn't go so far as to purchase any of them, the examples displayed on MyPublisher's Web site appear attractive and well-made and offer an alternative to traditional prints at a comparable cost.

Opening BookMaker's interface includes a Quick-Start Guide in the left-hand panel but also initiates an optional but helpful quick-start video. There's also a full Help menu that includes links to chat and Web-based assistance. The wizard-based guide walks you through each step of creating your book. Clicking an image calls up an Image Toolbox that allows various adjustments. We really like the custom book-jacket-maker feature, which you can use to replace a lost or damaged jacket or create your own custom book covers.

BookMaker is freeware certified for Windows versions up to Vista, but we installed in Windows 7 with no trouble. It installs desktop icons without asking and leaves items behind when it's uninstalled but is otherwise a polite performer. It's an interesting concept in publishing that can present your photos in hardbound albums and other printed formats for prices similar to blank albums in a bookstore.

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