Over the centuries we’ve developed dozens of printing techniques and tweaks to paper production that have infinitely improved our work. Yet none of these has fundamentally changed the content of those pieces that we print. Digital printing seems to be doing just that.
Last month, a photo-products company called Picaboo announced it will be working with print service providers to produce customized yearbooks on HP Indigo 10000 and 7600 digital presses. Their variable data features and short print runs will enable students to create custom copies of their school yearbook, in softcover or hardcover, and as free ebooks.
Online, students can create their own covers with their name and personal photos, and add limitless customized pages featuring photos and text of themselves and their friends – the first four customized pages are free. (Imagine being the teacher who has to police THAT.)
The digital setup also solves a number of problems that have plagued schools in the past. As the Indigo collapses the turnaround time to about 3 weeks from the more traditional several months, spring activities can now be included in the books. The short runs also allow them to be sold on demand through an online store the school administrates, so they don’t have to meet pre-order quotas. (Special software even warns schools when they make a change that could eat into their profits.)
Picaboo’s yearbooks are not the only ones going the digital route; a handful of other companies are offering similar, if not as spiffy-looking, books. Which means those days of sitting down and paging through an old yearbook with friends is going to be a very different experience… depending on whose copy you use.