Facebook members are uploading about 300 million photos every day, giving an unexpected new life to companies that print photos.
Brent Busboom, a 42-year-old high school English teacher in Reno, Nev., said he has printed four photo books as gifts for people in the past two years. He loves the ease with which he can share photos on Facebook, but still prints his most treasured digital snapshots.
“Truthfully, it's easier to look at photos in a photobook than it is on a website since I don't have to wait for pictures to load. Plus, photobooks are a huge improvement over photo albums where everything was the same size,” Busboom said. “The ability to manipulate photo sizes and layouts lets me structure things in a way that is both interesting and representative.”
Photo-sharing technology was supposed to make the printed photo go the way of the CD and the daily newspaper. You need look no further than the high-profile bankruptcies of Kodak and Polaroid, stalwarts of the film-and-processing era, to see the impact digital cameras and faster Internet connections had on photo prints.
But now a new breed of smaller, more nimble photo companies are making it easier for photographers to turn their favorite Facebook, Instagram and Google+ photos into prints, canvases and photo books. By tying directly into the social networks, companies like Blurb and CanvasPop eliminate the laborious step of having users upload photos for printing.
The result? Internet research firm InfoTrends is predicting the photobook market will grow from $588.1 million in 2010 to $1.2 billion by 2015.
Chris Sonjeow co-founded Picbound.com, a photo-book printing company earlier this year, right around the time Facebook was announcing a billion-dollar deal to acquire photo app Instagram. He said the company plays on the “grandma factor,” or the fact that many people still prefer prints over pixels, and the idea that many photos shared on Facebook are mundane daily events; a photo book gives a sense of importance to photos from a life event.
“Will this always be the case? Most likely not, but it will certainly not change overnight. The phasing-out period lasts decades,” Sonejow said. “Sure, there will always be people who collect vinyl records or old books, but once the general masses have a more consistent form of access, they will eventually have a new way to view their past.”