Last fall I traveled to London to see how Simpson was doing. Simpson came to the photo lab industry from litho printing, and he's successfully melded the traditional photo and litho with trendy products. But he doesn't want to see traditional photographic printing go away. It's his belief that photographers will always want it, so his business plan is to strictly cater to photographers by creating attractive books and albums.
At Sim2000, they print all their books on a Durst Theta 76 and an HP Indigo 3050. Simpson charges the same price for both, but larger runs tend to go on the Indigo. "The Indigo adds sharpness," says Simpson. He states that they were just on the verge of adding a Drytac UV coater to save on lamination.
Sim2000 only deals with professional photographers--no consumers. He believes the consumer market will go inkjet first. 'Photographers are always going to want photo paper," says Simpson. We're all aware that some photographers have big egos, so they get their names embossed on the photobook.
Simpson does question how long photobooks will be viable. Is it a fad, or will it self-sustain? Industry experts much smarter than this reporter believe that photobooks and albums are not a fad. Who doesn't keep their wedding album or high-school yearbook? On the commercial side, such items as brochures and sell sheets tend to get tossed, but a real, bound book is almost always placed on a shelf.
This little vignette about Simpson is an important marketing lesson, because it relates how one can come to the photo lab industry from the outside, find a niche market, captivate top-drawer professional photographers, and make a profit.
Everything you need to emulate Lee Simpson's entrepreneurial success is here at PMA. Sim2000 can serve as model for building a business dedicated to photobooks and albums.