Print Still Has A Pulse
A recent report from Neilsen Bookscan shows that while e-book sales are on the rise, the decline in print sales has actually slowed, a sign that mainstream readers may not be finished with the print book format just yet. While adult hardcover books showed a slowing decline, sales in juvenile nonfiction were actually up 5.4% and sales of board books actually rose over 3% in 2012. In the photo and imaging space, the only segment that is showing consistent growth is in the photo book market which, according to Futuresource is growing in double digits.
ALICE was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and having nothing to do; once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, ‘and what is the use of a book,’ thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’ –Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (emphasis added)
The Photo-Merchandise Market Is Booming
According to a recent study by Futuresource Consulting, the United States consumer photo-merchandise market grew 18% to over $1.5 billion in 2012 and positive growth is expected to continue with the market developing to over $1.9 billion by 2015. Photo cards continue to dominate the US photo merchandise sector overall, accounting for nearly 40% of market value in 2012.
According to Futuresource, the European photobook market is on track to exceed 23 million units in 2012. While retail photo labs remain a prominent outlet, online mail-to-home looks set to remain the dominant ordering channel in 2012, rising to nearly 16 million units this year. With more than 100 billion personal photos stored in “cloud” services including Flickr, these services are providing increasingly significant opportunities in terms of access points and convenience
The Potential of Self-Playing Media in Print
We have been a key player in the self-playing media / audio chip business for over 15 years and we’ve been intrigued by the potential marriage of self-playing media with print. Even with the trending move from print to digital, we’re convinced that there’s still tremendous potential in print publishing. We believe the key is self-playing media and that the potential for self-playing media to add value to print has never been greater.
Historically, self-playing media in the form of audio side panels, has been limited to children’s books. Today, that’s no longer the case. A prime example of print with the potential for self-playing narration and invited audio commentary is the emerging, high-growth market for photo books that individuals are making with their own photos to preserve and share memories.
But There’s Something Missing…
Individuals using digital cameras and smart phones are often coming home with both still images and short video snippets. In many cases, the video is used not for the video itself so much as to capture a sound or a voice. When they order their prints and layout their photobook… what can they do with those sounds? Until now… not very much. And that’s the disconnect.
“The much acclaimed launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 in March of 2013 highlighted a “Sound & Shot” feature that captures audio along with the photograph.”
Self-Playing Media Is The Answer
The self-playing media products we offer to publishers provide a way to ensure that when the user is creating a printed book that the audio captured by the user does not end up on the cutting room floor. Our audio playing products give the photo publishing industry the ability to add high value to their existing and future product lines.
Examples of Self-Playing Media Publishing
Audio Wedding Albums
Pictured is a high quality digitally printed wedding album with an extra electronic – touch sensitive panel. Since most weddings include professionally taken video in addition to still photography, it was easy to extract the audio from the wedding video. On each page that there is an audio file associated with the spread, we placed a graphic of a simple white button. When the user presses down on the graphic button, the pressure is transferred to the audio panel.. and magic.. the audio plays. Voice Express and Ekko Technologies are developing a line of Voice-Clip™ audio playback accessories which permit users to capture and play the sounds and voices behind the print.
Recordable Photo Cards
Snapfish does a healthy business in photo greeting cards sent out on holidays and to announce new births and special occasions. With the introduction of music and recordable greeting cards by Hallmark and American Greetings, it was only natural that consumers creating their own photo cards would be eager to add their own creative audio. We developed this recordable photo card for Snapfish so that their customers could add a few recordable cards to their holiday or special occasion order. It’s a perfect up-sell since we designed the card to use the same template and layout as a standard card. When the order arrives, the purchaser can record a personal message for close relatives and friends.
“Read To Me” Books
We’ve been working on re-inventing the children’s audio book for a while, but now that Hallmark has popularized their Recordable Storybooks we feel like we’ve arrived. We are launching our Voice-Clip™ line of audio recorders that are designed to clip on to any book so that mom, dad, grandma and grandpa can read their kids the books that they enjoyed when they grew up. Our audio players will be available at retail and also for digital printers to integrate into personalized children’s books. Soon there won’t be any excuse for a child to go to bed without a bedtime story…
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