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‘I love standing on the catwalk of the production facility’

The name Blurb will probably sound familiar for most photo enthusiasts. At least, if you ever designed your own photo book online. Millions of albums have been designed and sold via Blurb, many of them produced by RPI in Seattle, Atlanta and Eindhoven. During peak season, this means the print machines are printing around the clock, thousands of photobooks are being produced every day. A relationship that goes back to the beginning of Blurb in 2005 feels like a partnership. Senior Vice President of Operations Bruce Watermann talks about this special business relationship and gives some insights into 2019.

The so-called peak season at RPI starts around Thanksgiving in November and lasts until after the Christmas Holidays. The demand for photobooks has always been the highest during the holidays. People like to surprise each other with personal and long lasting memories. Massive amounts of consumers design their photobooks via Blurb’s book creation tools to have it delivered at home before Christmas. For RPI this means a fourfold of orders and a constant buzz in the production facilities.

Enthusiasts

Blurb refers to their customers as prosumers or enthusiasts. From amateur photographers to professionals, the company aims at those who want to do more with their photos. “Those who are interested in creative freedom and diversity when making a photobook are at the right place with Blurb”. The combination of creative control via the BookwWright software and Adobe partnership separates Blurb from the others in the market place, says Watermann.

One look into the system of RPI learns that Blurb offers up to 25 different formats when designing a photobook. In addition, consumers can choose out of different sizes, paper and covers. Production takes place in either the US or The Netherlands. To get the photobooks to the consumer in time is was quite a challenge when we first started. A flow process mindset and operation eliminated this challenge.

“RPI delivers consistent performance when it comes to planning and fulfillment”, says Watermann. This is according to the Vice President of Operations the key success factor of making it through this hectic time.

Way back

Watermann is the longest working employee at Blurb and has seen the cooperation with RPI up close. “We have been working together from the start in 2005. Our companies have grown together. We understand each other and we appreciate the efforts that RPI delivers on our behalf”. Watermann therefore enjoys visiting different production facilities. Before the peak season he experienced a very positive visit to our facility in Eindhoven. Our conveyor belt where photobooks are produced in different phases stood our specifically. “I love standing on the catwalk of the production facility”, he says with a smile on his face.

Sneak Peak 2019

Obviously we are also curious to what we can expect for 2019. Watermann gives us some insights. The three important developments for this year are related to Self Publishing, the expension of the product range and the Trade Book Marketplace. Blurb feels that Self Publishing authors can gain from the creative tools they offer and expects growth within this market. Besides photobooks there is also a lot of demand for new products like calendars and postcards. “We will consider these products but only if we could do something that’s different than what’s already in the market place.” When developing new products, Blurb first listens closely to the wishes of their customers. After that, they will investigate how the new products can be implemented in the RPI-network. “We look what products we can build together and what opportunities there are.”

Never a dull moment, but we would not have it any other way. After a brief breathing period, we are ready for everything 2019 has to offer. To be continued!

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