Set up in 1977, Venus Photobooks headquartered in Amritsar produces photo albums in the main – slip-in albums, self-stick albums and lamination albums among the other more common type of albums. Bikram Singh, director of Venus Photobooks says, “The entire photobooks business digitalized 10 to 15 years ago and with the change in processes, we adopted Indigo digital presses. We purchased digital offset machines from HP for our Chandigarh and Ludhiana units as well.”
Apart from photo albums, the company also produces brochures, visiting cards and catalogs. Talking about the photobook segment Singh says, “There are different binding styles of photobooks – spiral, pinned and layflat. We make all three kinds of photobooks.”
Demand for photobooks in the market
We have imported a machine from Italy for producing layflat books. Though it is our field of expertise, we do not get demand for photobooks throughout the year – it’s a seasonal business. Hence, it became extremely important for us to venture into other forms of value-added print work. The recent elections brought us good business, otherwise there is almost no demand till August.”
Singh says that the market for photo albums has shrunk with the proliferation of digital presses. Customers are no longer asking for traditional wedding albums. According to him, the only option for the photobook printers is to diversify to other print segments.
An HP Indigo set up at Venus Albums
Venus runs a range of HP presses, including the Indigo 7600, 5500 and 3550 models. The company uses offline units mainly for foiling enhancements. It also has a silver halide output device for chemically processed prints in which the silver coated paper is imaged with a laser and chemically processed. “For us, who use the digital offset Indigos, it is difficult to diversify to commercial print as the market there has also shrunk. As long as second-hand offset press imports to India do not stop, commercial will continue to struggle. The second-hand press users are offering print work at cheaper rates because they can afford to print for less.”
A 10% fall in photobook segment
“In the ten years that I’ve been in this industry, I’ve seen both photobooks and commercial print segments rise and fall sharply. It is falling by 5% to 10% every year due to social media and rise in digital technologies that are eliminating the need for a hard copy. “Only the remote areas of the country are still interested in photobooks.
“Packaging is also in our plans. If we manage to crack some good contracts with brand owners in future, we would love to supply packaging,” says Singh, adding, “We’re in the early stages of planning for a new HP Indigo 12000 press. It will be a well thought out process and we will take our time before going ahead with the new press.”
Fasma contract comparison
All the digital press manufacturers offer fasma contracts to the printers. The seller or manufacturer charges a specific amount per color per copy. Also called click charges, the price includes consumables such as ink (toner), spare parts and maintenance of the machine. The user can focus on the sales and production while the machine’s performance and uptime are taken care of by the manufacturer.
According to Singh, KM’s fasma is cheaper than HP’s, which “reduces the investment on the machine by 10 times. All those who do short run print work and have a low setup cost, invest in Konica Minolta.” Looking at growth, Venus is focussed on business promotion campaigns including participation in trade fairs to meet potential customers and to show them what it can do for them.