Bowens Bureau, a personalised digital printing company, grew its photo book business to more than 20% of its overall revenue after it bought a Xerox iGen3 press to launch RapidStudio, a new line of business, five years ago.

The company now plans to increase that figure to 60% within the next year, following its purchase of two Xerox 1000 colour presses from Bytes Document Solutions, the authorised Xerox distributor in 26 countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Photobooks let people keep their memories alive by enabling them to create a range of books full of their own photos, and they are becoming increasingly popular. For commercial printing businesses, they are an opportunity to supplement existing digital print volumes with the high value, high margin pages that photobooks represent.

Shaun Bowen, MD of Bowens Bureau and its spinoff brand RapidStudio said, 'We combined the Xerox devices with RapidStudio’s photobook template-based design software from M-Photo to introduce a whole new line of business that would not alienate our traditional customer base, as we were going to be selling directly to consumers. Xerox came to the party in a big way, helping us to create a combined hardware and software solution that gave us the infrastructure we needed to succeed.'

RapidStudio promotes photo books through a national network of affiliates that can accept jobs on- or off-line and feed them through to RapidStudio. By selling photo publishing affiliations with annual licencing fees, RapidStudio created a national sales network, which now includes many of Bowens’ historical customers. These affiliates feed the photobook business, driving pages to Bowens Bureau in a model that turns the company’s customer base into its sales force.

Bowens Bureau originally purchased the Xerox iGen3 for short-run digital jobs like business cards, brochures and books. The company knew it could also depend on this device for its then new photobook business because the iGen3 provides exceptional image quality, which is what consumers demand when it comes to photo applications. Following the growth in the demand for photobooks, the company subsequently bought the two Xerox 1000 colour presses within the space of eight months.

The Xerox iGen3 digital production press put us ahead of the competition when we bought it six years ago, says Bowen. It proved to be an invaluable tool in providing great colour output and increased productivity. The quality, speed and service we got from the iGen3 was impressive. As the business line grew, we bought the two Xerox Colour 1000 presses within a year of each other, as they represented the next generation of Xerox’s technology. Today we use the iGen3 for longer runs. The Xerox 1000s deliver sharp, rich, digitally mastered image quality, and allow Bowens to drive more high quality jobs through our shop, while helping us to contain costs.

Paul Haglich, marketing manager for production systems at Bytes Document Solutions said, 'Xerox digital presses provide outstanding image quality, colour, and media latitudes. With flexible workflow, feeding and finishing and a clear toner station that enables immediate flood or spot coating, the Xerox 1000 digital colour press easily meets the stringent demands of professional commercial printers like Bowens.'

The press features an extensive colour range that can produce vibrant images with smooth sweeps that command and hold attention. Running all substrate weights at rated speeds of 100 ppm, the press also delivers one of the widest ranges of media handling.

Bytes Document Solutions has been our supplier of choice for more than seven years. In addition to providing us with the best technology in the industry, the service we receive ensures that we are always open for business, Bowens concludes.