Mosaic is a new start-up that prints customized photo books straight from your iPhone for a reasonable $20. I've been meaning to try the service for quite some time, and finally had the opportunity for Christmas: I created a book of pictures from 2012 for my girlfriend.
The app is very well done. The process of building the photo book is really easy. It's just a couple of steps, and the app is organized well enough that it's both easy and fun. Even the usually dreadful checkout process was lovely – there's a lot to learn from here.
Their process is really great, too. The books are shipped quickly – they promise four days, which matches my experience. They even send push notifications when it's printed, shipped and arrived, which is a nice touch for those of us that like to keep close tabs on when packages arrive.
In terms of the purchase options, I was pleasantly surprised that you have, really, just one: black pages or white pages. Everything else is fixed, from the cover material to the number of pages. I'm sure this great on the back end, and it's nice to avoid having to fumble through layouts and colors and paper choices to get something nice – that'd be especially horrific on the iPhone. And they really nailed it – the default choices are almost perfect.
This, however, presents a really terrible conundrum on the cover. The cover is a grid of the photos contained in the book, and it looks great, but you can't select the configuration. It's random, at first, and you can continually shuffle them around, but it's a bit awkward if you're dealing with a book full of personal photos. I found several arrangements I liked, but each had its own flaw – sometimes a covered face, other times an entirely covered person. I imagine this works fairly well on scenery, but I couldn't be happy with any of my selections, ultimately settling for the least worst option I could find.
Was it worth it?
It seems that Mosaic is trying to emphasize creating memory books: they want you to use their service to print a book for every occasion. I didn't use it for that purpose here, and I couldn't see myself doing that in the future, but overall, I have to give Mosaic a good review and a recommendation to anyone. It's an easy, painless, beautiful gift for family and friends. My girlfriend loved the book, and it now sits on our coffee table. And for $20, you really can't go wrong.
One final note on that pricing
Mosaic claims that they have simple and honest pricing – just $20. I do think, for the product, $20 is more than reasonable. What I don't like, however, is that they later add in $5 for shipping and handling. I didn't see why this would ever change, so if it's flat, why not include it in the advertised cost? I still think $25 is fair, I just don't see any reason to not be clear about that upfront.