Quality Photo Books

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.


About Mark Mizen

I have over twenty years professional experience in all aspects of photography and digital imaging. I am Chair of the ISO WG5 TG2 committee responsible for physical properties and durability of imaging material and am currently with HID Global working on systems for security printing for IDs, licenses, and credit cards. Previously, I was Director of Digital Development at Creative Memories from 2009 to 2012 and was responsible for the Creative Memories digital products and services. I also established and directed the Creative Memories Technology Center, which evaluated new products prior to product introduction, assisted with production difficulties, and provided technical information to support product sales.
This entry was posted in Industry Info, ISO Standards, Photo Books. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Quality Photo Books

  1. I think quality is often hard to sell. People want it (or at least say they do) but then go with the cheaper product. Maybe it looks the same or close initially so they rationalize it’s good enough. We seem to love the idea of a good bargain. And many people don’t seem to differentiate between good and bad bargains. Food, mattresses, photo albums, etc. When it doesn’t live up to expectations we throw it out. But as you point out, Mark, some things turn out expensive when we first buy cheap.

  2. Maybe it will take time for people to see their cheap books fall apart before realizing that the high quality bindings are best. That’s a tough question to answer in a society that is used to throwing stuff out or replacing it when it gets worn out. Ordering more of the cheaply made books may increase competition for printing those cheaply made books and, perhaps, this will make the high quality books stand out more?

    With our business at I Hate Scrapping, we sell customers on our custom design service and feel that we can’t sacrifice printing and binding quality either. If the books don’t last, it will be a poor reflection on our company and not the printer. That’s why we print through Creative Memories (and we’re not CMCs either).

  3. Cheryl says:

    This is a great question. I believe it is because the majority of people are not educated on what constitutes a quality book and the difference between books. When the books are brand new they may not look that much different, espeically to someone who has not been educated on the difference. The companies that sell the lesser quality books have very slick advertising campaigns that makes it appear they are great products. It is our responsibility to continue to educate the public about what to look for in a quality book, just as we have been educating them about what to look for in quality traditional scrapbooking products. It will be great if an ISO is developed so we can say ours meet the ISO standards. In the meantime it is up to us to state the reasons why ours is of superior quality and therefore carries a higher price.

  4. Tracey says:

    So, as a creater of photo books what should I be looking for in a ‘quality’ supplier?

  5. Tracey says:

    i take that previous comment back as I have just seen an earlier post

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