I'll try to answer a couple of questions, but I know there are others who are more into scrapbooking than I. ETA: I don't consider what I do scrapbooking.
I make 1 annual book for DS (ETA: not really photobooks--more like a yearbook with lots of pictures and pages full of text). I give them as gifts and they go from birthday (June) to birthday and I order them in November.
I have only used 2 companies to make my books #1 was apple's printer through their iphoto software (I'm not sure who they use). It was beautiful, but I didn't think that there was enough flexibility for my annual books. I needed pages with text only that I could change fonts, etc.
So, I did a lot of searching and found blurb. The attractions were many--it would "slurp" in my blog text and pictures and make a book. (Really I only wanted my text, because the pictures were better when I just placed my originals from iphoto in the book.) They have many different templates for all the different kinds of pages you'd want. pages with 20 pictures, pages with 1 picture (full bleed), pages with text and pictures, etc. PLUS, you can create your only page templates from scratch--putting whatever size picture you want where you want it, adding text boxes, fonts, titles, annotations. I also needed a company that would allow for LONG books. Mine are usually 140 pages or so. I spend about $40 and am happy with the quality. They have their own software that is free to create the layouts, or you can use their online software. I would guess that there is more customization in the desktop version, but that's only a guess. On my mac their software plays very nicely with iphoto, which I use for photo organization.
As far as fading out the pictures...you should be able to do this in picasa or whatever software you use to organize your images. I find this trick effective if you convert to B&W picture--you can reduce the contrast (so the blacks and whites are less stark) and then turn up the brightness to wash things out so the text shows up better--or turn down the brightness and use white text. Picasa is free, if you don't already have it.
Last edited by larig; 04-06-2011 at 05:46 PM.
L, mommy to my one and only, super-sweet boy, G 6/08
I'm pro-big bird, and I vote.