Designing and printing your own photo books has been possible in the US and Canada for quite some time. Most of the photo book printing companies that offer this service rely on straight-forward PC and Mac-compatible design and layout applications that can be downloaded to your computer. Once you assemble the pages using your own text and images, the application uploads your files to a printing facility which turns around a beautiful book in just a few days. Doing such a thing from Puerto Vallarta is a no-brainer thanks to the Internet. But of course, one has to rely on a kind friend to schlep the book back from the US, or take a chance with the Mexican postal service. Mind you, I have friends who have done so, and have received their books without a problem.
One-of-a-kind photo books are a great present for a loved one, or for oneself, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Costco is now offering the service all over Mexico. The process is simple:
- Visit Costco Mexico online and click on the Foto Revelado tab at the top (that means “photo processing” but I’m certain you already knew that!).
- Download the software for your PC or Mac. The download links are located on the right-hand side of the page, and you’ll recognize them by their icons, even if the entire website is in Spanish. Interestingly enough, I downloaded the Mac version of the software and the interface is in English. So if Spanish is not your forte, you’ll be fine.
Once you do this, it’s a matter of learning how to use the software, design your book pages and put together the entire book. Once you do this, you make a payment online and the book is ready for pickup at your Costco of choice (in our case, at the Puerto Vallarta store, of course!) in 10 business days.
Costco is presently offering four different sizes of 20-page books, ranging from $329 to $879 pesos each. Additional pages can be added to your books at extra cost. I haven’t ordered any (the service is brand new as of mid-August 2009) but will gladly report once I order my first one.
When I researched who was the printing company behind the service, FOTOsmile, I discovered they have their own website, where they offer a broader variety of products, including postcards, posters and calendars, at slightly lower prices. If you shop at Costco on a regular basis, this may not be a major issue for you, but you may want to check FOTOsmile online and compare between the two options. If you go with FOTOsmile, you will probably have to download their own version of the book-making software, rather than Costco’s.