If there is anything I learned in college it is that presentation is key. I think that's why I've always had an affinity with graphic design because you have to present everything in a clever, unique, and inviting way to draw people in. Essentially photography has no other option. You present as is with one chance. But packaging and branding, elements of design, require you to create an entire user experience. That is why I am boasting about [ Milk ] books. I ran across this company through Moleskine which is another vendor that I love. They came together to collaborate in a Milk/Moleskine way by creating photo books. I had been wanting to create a photo book since my Blurb days and I was eager to see the final finish of the quality, craftsmanship, and price. I was very impressed with their minimal packaging but loved the little nuances that make Milk books really elegant. The great thing about them is that they cater to a photographer's needs. You can lay the entire book open and it is completely flat. This is because they bind their books differently (see 3rd to last image) which makes for perfect viewing.
The only thing I didn't like was the actual process to make the book wasn't as free and open as far as layout design and picture window spacing. Blurb allows you to get really custom with your book by allowing you to create it through Adobe InDesign. Milk is very 1-dimensional in the sense that you can only create it through their site's user interface.
As far as pricing goes, they ran a deal where you pay $20 for 20 pages. I ultimately bit the bullet and went ahead and did 40 pages so with shipping included, my total price was $40+ for just ONE book. Most photographers I talked to said that the price wasn't bad at all and even an art director I know agreed. For the non-professional, the amateur professionals, and those who appreciate it the quality - Milk is the way t ogo.
Overall, I think I got what I paid for - a great quality book filled with content that I am proud of and ready to be shared - after all, that's the whole point.