Photo Books : Never Too Late for Profits

RPI has developed templates for photo products that can enhance even the most common themes, including weddings. (Double click to enlarge photos.)

Contac Services has Kodak Nexpress (background) and Xerox iGen presses in its digital printing department.

RPI employs a fleet of HP Indigo digital presses.

For those who believe the photo market is already oversaturated, a basic business tenant to consider: The first to market isn’t necessarily the best to market. Just ask Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The demographic has room for expansion beyond “life event” applications—organizations abound and those printers that are industrious enough to hammer out templates that cater to any number of social groups (scouts, youth sports, fraternities/sororities) can tap into virgin markets.

New Crop of Products

Take the case of John Arleth, CEO of His business, based in Minnetonka, MN, previously specialized in printing manuals for agricultural equipment. But about 10 years ago, his company took on a special personalized book project and recently began producing a personal favorite, “A Heart Apart,” which allows children to put names and faces to the experience of having a mother or father who is away from home in military service.

The text was written by two active military mothers and, by substituting the child’s names and photos, the resulting product is a very personal gift for children, as well as a coping mechanism to help them reconcile separation.

Arleth also produced a photo book specialization product called “World According to…” that entails the same personalization capabilities, where kids’ drawings and pictures are arranged to construct a story.

The printer didn’t need to acquire any new equipment to embark upon the photo book realm, though has gone through three different digital printing platforms. Arleth finally settled on a four-color, 13×40˝ MGI Meteor DP60 Pro digital press, which was more economical due to no click charges and boasted production speeds commensurate with their workload needs.

Quality customer service—which sounds like a broken record—is a point of differentiation for Arleth, who has a blog ( that provides tips and techniques for creating photo books. The books are 100 percent guaranteed. Don’t like the product? You’ll get a new one. You dropped the product in the toilet? You’ll get a new one. Lost in a fire? Ditto.

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