I was recently invited to try out Group Story. Group Story is a website that allows people creating a photo book have having everyone join a group and upload pictures. You can then choose which pictures go into the book, the page layouts, and even add text. When it’s completed, everyone in the group can order one. The concept of the site is wonderful, and I was really looking forward to creating a book of Hannah’s first year. However, there were a few issues that spoiled some of the experience.
The website itself is very easy to navigate and use. There are step by step instructions for the entire creation process, so you can figure out how everything works pretty quick. After I first set up my account, I uploaded a few pictures. Uploading was quick and easy, and you an label the pictures if you want. I didn’t bother with it, and moved onto testing out the page creator…which is where I hit my first snag.
The applet that runs the page creator does not work in Internet Explorer. It will just sit on the loading page. Frustrated, I logged out for the night. The next afternoon, I downloaded and installed FireFox. I normally have that on my computer anyway, but I hadn’t re-installed it after my hard drive crashed a few months back. I logged back into the site and the page builder worked fine. Since that was working, I went ahead and sent my mom an invite so she could add pictures.
The first thing she noticed as she was creating her account was that the site gives out your info to third party advertisers. I didn’t notice that when I was signing up, and I told her if worse comes to worse, just flag any emails she got as spam. Once she was logged in, she tried to upload a few pictures. Every time she tried to upload, the box would say the upload was complete, but none of the pictures were there. She was using the exact same version of IE I was, and I didn’t have any problems uploading. After several attempts she gave up. I told her she may need to install FireFox, but, since she’s not a very tech savvy person, she didn’t want to mess with it. The site rep had told me to email his any questions, so I sent a note out to ask about the issue. I waited several days and never received a reply.
Once I had all my pictures uploaded, I set to work on creating pages. The page builder is easy to use. You can choose from a fairly good number of page templates, ranging from just text, text and pictures, and just pictures. You can put up to 13 pictures on page, but they will be pretty small. You can zoom in or out on the pictures or slightly adjust the position, but that is it. The same goes with the text; you can only change size, color, and font. Even the background selection is limited to set colors. I had really wanted to be able to put the dates under the pictures, but there were only a few templates that allowed that.
All books have to have a total of twenty pages before you are allowed to have it printed. It took me about three days total to get them done. Once I was ready to order, I had to contact the site rep to get the promo code need in order to get the book for free (I had to pay the shipping). I was worried that I wouldn’t hear back since he never responded to my other email, but he replied promptly and I was able to order. It said that it would that about six days for the book to be printed and shipped. I ordered in the 21st and the book was shipped on the 23rd. Not bad at all. I received the book a few days later, and it looked wonderful. The book itself is of great quality and the printing on the pages is top notch. I was very impressed.
Overall, the site isn’t too badm but they do need to work on the site. Even though FireFox is growing in popularity, the site still needs to function properly in IE. Not everyone is going to want to have to download and install a different Internet browser just to be able to use one site. It would also be nice to be able to adjust the templates more…or even create pages myself, without templates.
The pricing is fairly reasonable; a soft cover book is $17.99 and a hard cover is $27.99. Additional pages are 75¢ each. Shipping is also good; $6.99 for regular (media mail/ $1.99 for each additional book) and $8.99 for priority (also $1.99 for each additional book). I’m definitely going to use them again. I’m planning on creating a larger book for everyone in my family to order. If your interested in creating a book yourself, you can check out their website.
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