Magazine Article


Albuming Becomes More Than a Cliché
Taking Center Stage at PMA Show

A Kodak Photobook
A Kodak Photobook

Fuji has partnered with Xerox with two products: the Phaser 7760, a neat 1200 dpi laser printer that will print pages up to 11.5x17-inches and banners up to 12x36, that comes with a binding device for a $10,000 package; DocuColor 240 and 250, for high speed, 2400 dpi laser, 2-side color printing and outputting, or a variety of products from albums to greeting cards to books and more, for prices ranging from $45,000 to $70,000, depending on options. Some of these products were previously sold by Fuji's graphics division but will now be available through its photo group.

Lucidiom decided to expand its popular Luci scrapbooking program by making the software available for its standard APM kiosks, rather than exclusively for a Luci-only kiosk, with a 5.0 software version. In addition, Lucidiom showed its Photo Folio bundle which can output folded cards, bound calendars and photobooks through its APM kiosk to a new EQ-9800 laser printer.

One simple solution for a retailer to get into the photobook business was introduced by Albumprinter, Inc. Here, a retailer sells a box of software, created by Artography Publishing, which contains a variety of templates and designs. For $59.95 the consumer buys the software package to use on a PC and which entitles her to one album which she designs at home. The finished album is then uploaded to a specialty book-on-demand binder, Lightning Source, for fulfillment and the finished product is mailed back to the consumer. Brooks Eckerd pharmacy and Moto Photo have signed on for this program.

There were other albuming solutions scattered on the PMA show floor, to be sure, but the above were the ones that I had the opportunity to kick the tires.

Show Specials Sold in Vegas

So, enough of the 'talk is cheap' stuff. Did anyone 'put their money where their mouth was'?

One has to look to HP, one of the newbies to the photo output business but about a year older than others in the albuming business, to get a handle on whether money was being put down on a table that didn't have a deck of cards on it.

Dan Kinsley, VP, North American retail photo solution for HP, said he "exceeded by double" the firm's expectations for show sales. For the first time HP courted the photo specialist and it appeared to produce results. While major players have to make decisions through a hierarchy of numerous executive levels, the photo specialist, impressed with what he's seeing, can sign now. And, many did.

John Perchulyn, Riviera Imaging, Inc., Redondo Beach, CA, responding to my request to bestphotolist members, said he came to the convention with the intention of purchasing the HP Studio after he had done some research. He said "the HP system appeared to be the only 'soup to nuts' solution for photobooks, posters, calendars, etc." Also, "I did look at the Fuji/Xerox solution but did not see a 'system' solution with that product."

A special for IPI/PRO members put the package at about $35,000, including a selection of free consumables, made it attractive to a number of dealers.

Ted Nichols, New Hope Photo, New Hope, PA, purchased the Unibind system at the show but decided after the show to go with HP and no longer needs the binder.

Chris Lydle, Chris' Camera Center and Digital Photo, Aiken, SC., was another HP show buyer. He, too, was attracted to the IPI/PRO price special and said, "We admired [the Studio] right along, but thought it would be out of reach. The show special…was just too good to refuse. I can't wait."

You won't have to wait much longer, Chris. Dan Kinsley said that installation of the Studio with the upgraded software began in late April.

Phil Gresham, Fotofast, Brisbane, Australia, went to the show feeling that he could handle his albuming business with existing kiosk equipment but changed his mind when he saw the HP set-up. "But after close inspection I soon realized that this is what my customers wanted, something very simple and fast to use." Pity Phil. Due to the Australian exchange rate, he had to pay 70% more than Chris or Ted—plus freight.

Bing Liem, Fuji's senior VP, Sales, said that he was extremely pleased with the show and the dealer reception to the Xerox products that Fuji is offering, the Phaser and DocuColor. "It's not like the old days when dealers would come in and write up orders for minilabs. We are offering new products and it takes time for decisions to be made. We generated a tremendous number of leads that now have to be followed up."