Is the photo book replacing photo prints?

There is no doubt at all that photobooks are a growth market and photo prints are declining. But at the risk of being slightly controversial I think we should examine what’s really meant by the statement…
The first and most important point is to decide if a photobook is in the same market segment as a photo print. Sure, they both contain photos, but that’s a bit like saying that aircraft and bicycles are the same because they’re both a form of transport?
Also what about price? There’s excellent growth in the UK market for instant photos from a kiosk. Prices vary, but if you want a print NOW then a photoprint will cost around 25p each but this market is growing! Show me a 25p photobook and I might be convinced they’re competing products (unless it’s a one page photobook!).
If I want 100 prints made by a minilab or similar in a retail store and I am prepared to wait an hour or even 24 hours, I might get them on a deal for 5p each or less! Is that really the same as a £25 photobook?
It’s so easy to make quick photo prints perhaps quite frequently. Is it really the same behaviour for a consumer to make and order a photobook? It takes around 2 hours to produce a photobook online so not surprisingly very few are ordered in-store at a retail kiosk.
So, what about market size? In 2010 the UK consumer photobook market was around 1.2M books, 1.1M are ordered on-line! In Contrast to this, the UK forecast in 2010 was that over 2.5bn photo prints will be ordered and printed mainly in-store!
Yes, there’s decline in photo prints but that revenue still accounts for the vast majority of photo revenue in any country! Is this growth in photobooks replacing photo prints or are the consumers different?
Or are photo print consumers viewing photos via email, on their laptops, iphones or mobile phones and just not printing any more?
I’m quoting UK numbers here but in Western Europe every country is different! Some countries even experience growth in photo print revenue albeit a couple of percent. So why is this, why do some of us print photo prints and some print photobooks. Are they different consumers or are consumers ordering both?
What do you think? What do you do…?

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  1. Julio Pérez February 24, 2010 -

    In my opinion, we are being actors in an unfinished script: the evolution of sampling and collection of pictures, 3D image, social networks and the development of TV as a unifying element for imaging applications at home –wich will come- will drive the future of images.

    But meanwhile, people has adapted and will gradually selecting naturally their preferences. Meanwhile, the observation (not too scientific, so accepting comments) of the field, leads me, for now, to one conclusion: drop photos anywhere, and view your results immediately. Some examples: leave your card full of photos in your regular printing supplier, have a cofee and back in a while to collect them, download your photos on your computer and drag to your preferred application to share, plug your pen drive in the multimedia hardisk and show immediately your pictures on television, record a CD, etc …. quick, quick, quick … new users want it: fast and easy to share products…

    If this is so: what can we do to drive new people, new users, new consummers to print photos on a Fotobook?; Making it cheaper?, Enhancing the quality? Being closer to them? Ok, this would help, especially to get the biggest piece of pie as we can, until, as Futuresource predicts will become a mature market back in 2012-2013; but apart users who enjoy spending time designing their Fotobooks for too long, some for hours, rest of people does not feel comfortable, or simply unwilling to spend so much time for that and will continue using the traditional photo print… then:

    Must we work to seduce those who currently do not consume photobooks, do so in the future?, “Will there growth? Is there a solution? Are there the real growth of Fotobook beyond 2013? Do we need new platforms to drive people to make easy, quick, diferent and amazing products…? Do we have knowledge and tools to build for example, automatically a cartoon about a travel experience with our pictures in a few minutes?, choose the best photos of the weekend, quick and automatically to put it in a fotobook?

    Finally a personal thought: Web globalized, so few will have the honor to manage the timing for develop. May be being there….

  2. David September 7, 2010 -

    Hi Ursula,

    may i ask where you got the figures for the UK market size from? I am currently doing research on the digital photo publishing market and need some figures. Would be great if you could let me know. You would do me a great favour!


  3. Ursula Roberts September 10, 2010 -

    Hi David!

    There are various sources in this blog for market pricing but if you are looking for UK Market Research?

    I can recommend Futuresource Consulting. Simon Bryant is one of their consultants who can be reached on 0044 1582 500 100.

    I hope this helps and best of luck,
    Kind Regards

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