Why is it so hard to sell quality photo books? This question came up at the Hardcover Binders International meeting I attended this weekend, and I do not know the answer. In every survey I have seen, customers say that photo books are preserving their memories. They have replaced the 4×6 prints of yesteryear. I have yet to see one person rate low quality as an attribute they are looking for. Yet, consumers are sending that message to photo book manufacturers by purchasing books at the lowest possible price.
The worst books I have seen are produced on site at local camera stores. These books contain low quality bindings that are destined to fall apart over time. I met one bookbinder who stated that he really liked low quality photo books, since he gets business rebinding them after they fall apart. Local stores simply cannot afford the equipment required for quality books.
Many internet services are not much better. These companies take money from one customer and by the time the book falls apart, they have moved on. The worst culprit here is hot melt adhesives. Yes, these adhesives are low cost and easy to use, but they are simply not reliable. One ISO standard for bookbinding even specifically precludes their use, since they have poor permanence.