I recently ordered a Zno Layflat book after seeing an advertisement on Instagram, so I wanted to take a few moments to highlight my experience.
On June 6, I ordered my first lay flat book from Zno. It would be nearly four weeks before it would arrive in the mail, though. And although I was initially excited to see the final product, after a winding road of difficulties and shortcomings, I'll admit that I don't think I'll order their products again.
To begin, the initial process of designing the book was lackluster. I know, sounds harsh, right? For someone who shoots a majority of portraits, particularly in portrait orientation, the lay flat book did not offer the opportunity to integrate many of my photographs effortlessly. The book appears to be designed to print in landscape, which wasn't what I was looking for. Being designed for landscape, the title on the cover does not rotate, which was frustrating. This wasn't going to work for my portrait orientation book, so I skipped it.
Instead, I moved along and began uploading images. The uploading process was effortless and only took a few moments. When it came to placing images, I found myself wanting more control, though. Although the online tools allow you to control the order of images, there is no way to scale the pictures to offer a border. I looked around the entire interface and couldn't find the option. So if it exists, it should be highlighted, Zno. This is unfortunate because some of my images had to be cut down, removing some details while trying to fit the size requirements.
Additionally, Zno requires that each page has an image, which means that both inside covers include images. Although I could have worked around the system to design a page of text, potentially an introduction or title page, this seemingly straightforward tool was not included. Needless to say, I found this disappointing.
I will admit that the entire process is quite straightforward, although limited. Everything loaded quickly and it was nice to see what my images would look like on the page as I ordered. I would like to see the option to shrink images on a page, though, as well as an option to add a title page or introduction.
Post Order Placement:
Once ordered, Zno does not offer the opportunity to review your book digitally, even moments after placing it. This is discouraging because I would have enjoyed sharing something about ordering the book, but all I received was a page showing the black cover of the book I ordered.
There's an illustrated box on the order confirmation page that shows where your book is in relation to its production. See image below. It was great to see where my book was in the process, but it also let me know that my book had not moved from reviewed to processed in 21 days, which seemed too long to me.
When I ordered the book on June 6, I immediately found a notification that I would receive the book within a certain timeframe – Friday Jun 16, 2017 to Thursday Jun 22, 2017 to be exact. I understand that these are often provided as a simple guideline, but after reviewing the confirmation page over the next couple weeks, I noticed that no progress had been made on my order. After two weeks of waiting, I sent an email to Zno, receiving the following response on June 23.
"Thank you for contacting Zno. Was checking back on orders and sadly we're still having a bit of it. Rest assured we are working diligently to complete and ship as soon as possible. Fingers crossed that the next correspondence you receive is ship notification.
May I beg your continued indulgence to continue to wait for your product?
Have a nice day!
I'll be honest, this response did not sit well with me. What does, "we're still having a bit of it," even mean? I kept questioning if I should, indeed, indulge them to wait. Ultimately, I decided to not respond, and to just wait. On June 27, I received a shipping confirmation and found that the book was being shipped directly from China, seemingly overnight. The book finally arrived on June 29.
The Actual Book:
Admittedly, the book is nice for the price, which came to $20 with shipping and the upgraded hardcover. The cover is thick with a little cushion to it. It looks like it will lay flat in time, even though it doesn't at the time of this writing, at least not without force. It could still be stiff and just needs to loosen up a little, though. The pictures are printed nicely and cover the entire page. Each page is thick, with wonderful, even cuts. It looks nice, especially given its price tag.
Despite this, I'm still not overly impressed and sincerely doubt that I will order again. Sure, it's a great option for certain uses, but I will seek out more expensive options that offer more control and better support. Maybe I'm being picky, but Zno's correspondence didn't sit well with me, particularly after waiting so long.
Anyway, check out some of the images I took of the final product below, and if you've ordered one, let me know your experience.