One of the fastest-growing new product categories in the photo industry today is photobooks. Whether they're made online by consumers at one of the larger photofinishing sites, or at a kiosk and put together by the retailer as the customer waits, these books are generating a lot of interest and profits.
Potential profits over the next couple of years are expected to dramatically increase. According to the "June 2006 PMA Photo Book" report, the value of the custom service market (of which photobooks are a part) is approaching $1 billion and is expected to more than double in the next two years!
The photobook is one option for consumers to tell stories of single events or celebrations, or as a commemoration of a loved one's life. There's a wide variety of equipment on the market for the printing of photobook pages, as well as equipment for binding the books together. [Editor's note: while we don't have the room to include all the products currently on the market, we'll be incorporating a quarterly photobook column within the pages of PTN in the near future. As so many retailers are debating whether or not to offer photobook creation services, we feel it's a market segment worthy of continued coverage.] Read on for some of the equipment now available.…
Lucidiom is making it possible for retailers who have an installed base of its APM (Automated Photo Machine) kiosks to add in-house photobook production incorporated into their APM workflow. At PMA, the company introduced its EQ-9800, a laser printer that can be incorporated into a retailer's existing workflow—and that takes up very little room with its small footprint.
The EQ-9800 offers color laser output at up to 36 pages per minute (ppm). It uses Single Pass Color Technology for printing on media up to 270 gsm thick. The EQ-9800 comes standard with a full suite of EFI color matching and job management software.
According to Lucidiom's CEO, Steve Giordano, Sr., "Customers are coming into [photo specialty/minilabs] with different creative demands." He explains that's the reason Lucidiom designed the system to output a variety of products. Retailers can offer their customers a range of products produced on the EQ-9800, including: 6x6, 8.5x11, and 12x12 photobooks and scrapbook prints, tabloid printing, two-sided greeting cards, photo folio books, and more.
"The EQ-9800 allows them to do everything in-house for pickup now, and it's an economical solution for duplex printing," Giordano says. "Until now, the photo dealer had to outsource these highly profitable photo products." Duplex or two-sided printing gives personalized greeting cards a more professionally produced look than what consumers are able to produce at home.
For the dealer who currently owns Lucidiom kiosks, you'll need the APM software version 5.0 update. Giordano says it's a modular system, so you get basic creative options but can add more of those products that sell in your market. He notes that a retailer on the West Coast may not be selling the same items as another in mid-America, or in the South.
At PMA earlier this year, it became clear that Xerox has set its sights on the photo specialty market. The Xerox/Fujifilm U.S.A. partnership created complete photo printing solutions—on three levels—for the photo specialty, minilab, and prolab markets. The solutions marry Fujifilm's digital photo products, workflow, and color management with Xerox's digital printing technology and digital specialty supplies. "Xerox wants to be a key player in this growing and profitable photo specialty market," says Gina Testa, VP for channel and customer business development at Xerox. "We came to the show with a number of digital technologies and solutions, along [with] partnerships to help customers capture a wide variety of revenue-generating photo applications from retail storefronts to centralized production labs.
"With Fujifilm's extensive presence and relationships in the photo markets, this collaboration significantly extends Xerox's ability to reach customers in the commercial photo and retail photo markets," adds Testa.
Two of the solutions—the DocuColor 240 and 250 Digital Color printers, and the Phaser 7760 laser printer—are offered through Fujifilm's Photo Imaging division, sold with Fuji's software. The third is the iGen3 digital printing press.
Fujifilm is offering the Xerox DocuColor 240 and DocuColor 250 printers to the larger labs, and the Xerox Phaser 7760 tabloid color printer, which also incorporates Fuji software as an ideal option for the smaller lab or dealer, to output photobooks, greeting cards, etc. that would be ordered on a Fujifilm GetPix kiosk.
Along with the Phaser 7760 comes Fujifilm's Image Intelligence software and binding/finishing equipment. The printer is duplex, offers 35ppm for color at 1200x1200 dpi, and prints on paper up to 11.5x17 inches.
Designed for onsite outputting of photobooks, greeting cards, calendars, and more, the printer seamlessly integrates into existing Frontier PIC workflow.