Where Did the Family Photo Album Go?

It’s only logical that photo books would displace traditional photo albums for many people. After all, a photo book is nothing more than a book with photos printed on the pages, rather than a photo album with prints slid into plastic sleeves. Photo books, of course, also allow for personalization through the adding of text, as well as choices of backgrounds, borders and various binding options.

In the 2013 U.S. Photo Printing Survey (http://store.infotrendsresearch.com/product_p/135455.htm), survey respondents that had purchased photo books were asked if they thought photo books would eventually replace traditional photo albums in their households. Interestingly, over 33% said that photo books had already started replacing photo albums and another 30% said that they plan to start printing photo books instead of putting prints in traditional albums. Only 19% said “no.” Those with higher incomes were more likely to already have photo books replace albums in the home, as were those who said they are “early adopters” of technology.

InfoTrends survey data also shows that those who bought photo books before are likely to buy again. In the 2013 Photo Merchandise Survey (http://store.infotrendsresearch.com/product_p/134526.htm) nearly 80% of photo book buyers said they would “probably” or “definitely” buy photo books again in the next 12 months, with over 43% saying they definitely would. Not only do the majority of photo book buyers plan to buy books again, but it appears that these photo books are also displacing traditional print albums based on the chart above. This is a good thing for most retailers, especially those that don’t sell photo albums, as photo books deliver higher profit margins than prints and continue to experience strong growth in the market, while print volume is declining. That being said, prints still have some key advantages over photo books. A print made on high-quality photo paper has the potential to last over 100 years, while the life span of most photo books in the market is still unknown. Prints also have an advantage in that you can take them out of the album for scanning or sharing.

Photo book vendors may be able to make photo books more appealing by addressing some of those areas where prints still have an advantage over books. Photo books are likely to retain their quality for a long time considering they’re not exposed to sunlight on a regular basis, so promoting the archival qualities of photo books that have high-quality printing, paper and binding may make them a more attractive option. InfoTrends also believes there are opportunities for photo book vendors to ensure that the original digital file of the photos in the book can be accessed in the future. One easy way to do this today is by including a flash drive with the published book that has the original digital files on it, which could be stored in a cutout or sleeve inside the back cover. The use of QR codes is another good access option and a more cutting-edge possibility. A QR code printed within the book could be scanned to link to a cloud storage or photo-sharing site where the original digital files can be found.

In any case, it’s up to retailers and vendors in the market to make their customers aware of the inherent benefits of the printed photo and traditional albums, as well as photo books and to help them make the best choice. InfoTrends continues to believe that producing photo output, be it photo books, prints, or both, are still the best way to ensure that important photos will be easily accessible and easy to view years into the future.

Loading