I recently made a recipe book of all the recipes my mom has collected over the years. Since I'd used Shutterfly twice before, I was inclined to use them for this project. However, I'd heard about Blurb and decided this was a great project to give them a try.
First what I love about Blurb.
When you use blurb you actually download a program called Booksmart. Thus, you do not need to be connected to the internet all the time, and it eliminates the need to upload photos to a server. Once you are done then upload your book when you are ready to place your order. Booksmart is great. You have full control over customization of layouts, which is the biggest perk to Blurb. Plus it is really easy to use. The other nice thing is that you have full color customization over the backgrounds. You see a background you like, but it's in blue and white, well, you can change both those colors to be exactly what you want. There are infinite color options.
What I don't like about Blurb.
First, while I do like their background selection and color choice options, you don't have quite as many to choose from as Shutterfly. Second, while I love their layout and design flexibility they do have more limited book cover choices. (only 3). And then third, and probably the biggest, I don't think their quality compares to Shutterfly.
When I got my recipe book back from them I noticed the front cover wasn't as nice as the Shutterfly covers. I also noticed the book construction wasn't as good and the pages just weren't as nice. Now, for the pages, you do have the option to upgrade to "premium paper" which I had not done on this book. The other thing I noticed was that the last few pages in my book were not bound correctly. One of the pages was even ripping out of the book. So I emailed their customer support with some pictures that I had taken on my iphone and within 3 hours they responded to me saying they would replace the book at no cost. That was nice. I was even able to upgrade to their "premium paper" so I'll know in a few days what that looks like. It was a little annoying not to have a phone number to call, but they seemed to respond to the email quite quickly.
So my overall assessment is that Blurb allows for much more design flexibility, though the overall quality of book is just not as nice as the Shutterfly books. If you are okay with the limited layout options, I would recommend Shutterfly for your book needs. Especially photo books. However, if you have a project that needs full customization of layouts, then you're stuck with Blurb... for now.