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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Computer currency From: Journal of Consumer Marketing, Volume 26, Issue 3
Edited by Dennis Pitta, University of Baltimore
Unibind Photobook Creator
Marketers, especially those in small to medium sized organizations (SMEs) face the challenge of engineering effective marketing communications at a reasonable cost. To be more precise, marketers face the challenge of producing effective promotional materials no matter what the cost. Larger firms can afford to produce print media on a lavish scale. If they have a discrete number of standardized products, they might enjoy economies of scale and create impressive advertising and sales materials. Today SMEs can use the internet effectively to attract customers, provide information about company products and services, answer questions, and even complete the sale. However, not all SMEs sell standardized products that lend themselves to internet sales. Many sell customized products and services that require extensive use of personal selling. Architects and custom home builders face the task of showcasing their creativity to specific clients. If they do not concentrate on a specific area like high rise office buildings but are more general in their choice of projects, they need customized marketing materials. For example, for an architecture firm, a generalized brochure showing a range of project types would not be as effective as a variety of a specific type. Thus, presenting a selection of mixed use residential/retail projects to a client seeking designs for such a project would target the customer’s wants effectively. For them, professional five-color printing is often out of the question. What options do those SMEs have?
Custom selections of photos and text are one answer. Other professionals ranging from commercial photographers to plastic surgeons to wedding planners to one of the celebrity custom cake makers can use a combination of photographs of their work and promotional text. When using photographs, one of the other challenges is how to present them in a professional manner. The traditional method was to use a three ring binder containing clear plastic insert pages. Photos and text pages could be arranged to convey a promotional message. The system has the benefit of being infinitely customizable since pages can be added, removed or rearranged to fine tune the desired image. Drawbacks include the possibility of the rings opening and spilling the contents, ruining the presentation strategy. Moreover, three ring binders have a pedestrian quality which may not be in keeping with the image that high end firms with exclusive products intend to convey.
One solution would involve a system of obvious value, customized for a specific customer, that can be used during a sales interview and left behind without fear of damage or tampering. While cost is not important for many applications, economy is still a plus. The Unibind Photobook Creator delivers each element and offers some great potential for small to medium sized companies.
A recent press release from Peleman Industries, Inc. (www.unibind.com) the manufacturer of the “award-winning Unibind high-quality binding, lamination and presentation product line,” released news of a new product the Unibind “MyPhotoBook Starter Kit.” The kit solves the marketing problem that our SME’s face. The product allows quick and easy creation of photo books for selected customers. In addition, there is little investment in time or money. The company notes that the MyPhotobook Starter Kit is priced at a modest $69.99. Using it, almost any competent employee can create professional photo books without the need for expensive equipment, using economical supplies. We tested the Unibind Photobook Creator priced at $124.99.
The Unibind Photobook Creator includes:
PhotoBook Binding machine.
1 Black linen hardback landscape photobook.
Photo Layout Software download link and activation code.
The Unibind Photobook Creator supports different photo book sizes available, including 5”×7”, 4”×6”, 6”×8”, and 8”×10.” Creating photo books is straightforward and can be accomplished by inexperienced staff or even interns.
The company states that “photo books created by the Unibind Photobook Creator are professional looking, firm, durable and protect all your customer’s photos.” We have to agree. The covers have obvious quality and can even be customized with a company’s logo and contact information. Physically, the books can contain a variety of paper, including photo paper, ink-jet, or laser printed, and can be single or double-sided, with books fitting up to 40 pages of photo paper. The capacity using double sided pages yields up to 80 pages of images and should be ample for any of the SME’s we’ve mentioned.
Creating a photo book
The process to bind a portfolio is quick, easy and involves the following steps:
Align a selection of prints as precisely as possible.
Insert the pictures into the Unibind cover.
Plug in the Unibind Photo Book Creator, the automatic unit that heats the resin in the cover to “glue” the pages together.
Place binder in the photo book creator spine down.
The weight of the binder starts the process and the unit’s indicator light turns red.
After about 90 seconds the process is done and the indicator light turns green.
Let the photo book stay in the photo book creator for 60 more seconds.
Remove the photo book carefully and let the binder cool.
When the binder cools, the resilient and robust photo book is done.
PhotoBook Creator is easy to use. Following the procedure listed above will yield a high quality product. There are two parts to production; one is the physical binding of materials within a cover. The other involves layout and creation of the content pages.
Binding the content pages
Permanent binding employs a heat-set glue which is strong and holds the pages in the cover very well. In our tests, a finished photo book resisted repeated attempts to pull the pages away from the cover: the pages stayed securely in place.
Our research uncovered numerous applications for the photo books. Photographers use them for proofing books, which saves time and actually increases revenue. Proofs are smaller format pictures that customers can use to order enlargements. After selection, they have little value and some studios offer them for sale at a modest price. The photo book insures that customers either return all the proofs or pay for them all. The system avoids “shrinkage” – the disappearance of a few highly valued proofs when the proofs are returned unsold. In addition, proofs for ceremonies like weddings can be arranged in the chronological order of the event, making it easier for the customer to visualize and order. The overall presentation is much more professional than a stack of 4”×6” photos.
If a customer returns the proof book, it is not really reusable. In other words, the binder cannot be reheated, the contents cannot be removed and new contents cannot be inserted and bound. However, users have found that the book can be reheated and a page can be added or removed. The trick is to find glue pages that are compatible with the Unibind system.
The range of products is impressive. One is not limited to using photos and text. Users can bind separators like translucent vellum sheets between pages to highlight specific images. Such inserts add to the art image of the resulting book.
How does the binding work? Each cover has a Steel U Channel layered with thin resin. The resin liquefies when heated and then becomes absorbed by the paper. When the resin cools it becomes part of the paper creating a strong bond.
The system comes with its own layout software. Users may prefer to use programs like Photoshop but the Unibind software is free and easy enough to use. One has to register the product online using a product registration number supplied in each package. One logs onto www.unibind.com and activates a registration program. Users need to input their name, address and e-mail address. In addition, one needs the ten digit registration number. At that point users will have the choice of downloading either PC or MAC versions of the MyPhotobookInstaller program.
The program file is very large. The PC version occupies 93.5MB of space and downloading that large a file takes considerable time. Using a high speed broadband connection download should have taken fifteen minutes. During our download which was done during an evening, the process froze several times but ultimately was successful. Truthfully, including a CD containing both files in the package would have been more convenient. Users could still be required to register to receive an activation code that would allow program installation without the fear that a download might fail.
The software is surprisingly versatile. It features a structured series of choices that control the pictures, background, layouts, picture borders and a series of pre-designed templates. The templates are geared for home use and include titles such as “For that special little girl/boy”, “Show that wonderful vacation”, “Our wedding”, and “Our kids”.
The program has other more businesslike applications and one can control the overall book design choosing landscape, portrait, or square formats in a variety of sizes. There is even a design wizard that takes users through the creation steps systematically. It is called the Easy Book Wizard has eight specific steps. It starts with the choice of landscape, portrait or square orientation. Next one chooses the size by width and height. The third choice selects between a hard cover and one called a keyhole cover. A keyhole cover has a rectangular cut out that exposes the picture on the first page. The fourth choice is one of eight themes for the book (like our kids, or the vacation layout). The fifth step is to select the pictures to be included. Sixth, one selects between ten and 296 pictures. The program will not proceed unless the minimum ten pictures are chosen. The sixth step involves a preview and possible rearrangement of pictures. The seventh step specifies the caption on the first page which should not exceed 30 characters including spaces. The eight and last step displays a summary of the photo book characteristics.
Overall the program is easy to use and yields useful results. The one issue we found was that including text was not a primary capability. One could insert a caption in any page. Text however, could only be inserted if it were converted to an image. The problem is minor and creative marketers can work around it easily. However, one workaround is to insert pre-printed pages within the software page stream when the book is bound.
Unibind provides a very helpful web site that not only allows registration and software download but also provides a host of creative project ideas. For example, one choice is titled Vacation Books. The web site asks, “Are you taking a fun vacation this year? Make sure to document the trip by making a Vacation Book. It is a fun way to preserve and protect your memories of the trip, and kids love to show their friends where they went while they were away. Be sure to save your plane ticket stubs, and even hotel keys – these make great embellishments for your book!”
Other projects can lend themselves to business applications easily. They include training materials, contracts, tax return information, charts, archives, budgets, newsletters, reports and proposals. One can use a combination of pictures and printed text. It is quite easy to use the accompanying software to layout pictures and to leave blank pages for text to be physically inserted later. Otherwise, manually assembling the materials and binding is even easier.
Cost – items available separately:
Unibind Photobook Creator is priced at $124.99.
Binders 11” wide × 8.5” tall about $19.99 per two pack.
Binders 12” wide × 12” tall about $10.99 each.
Binders 8” wide × 8” tall about $7.99 each.
Binders 4” wide × 6” tall about $12.99 per two pack.
The Unibind Photo Album Creator a very nice solution for the creation of smaller photo books and portfolios. It is a presentation solution that is easy to use, and reasonably priced. One has the option of using the capable software provided or something more sophisticated like PhotoShop.
The product is highly recommended and should be helpful to many SMEs.
Available from: Unibind 1-800-UNIBIND (800-864-2463) www.myunibind.com