Personalization Hits Fast Lane

Personalization Hits Fast Lane


As digital printing technology continues to push the envelope with regard speed, quality and flexibility, another feature unique to this market has emerged – and this one might provide the apps everyone’s been waiting for.

We’re referring to personalization and the ability to customize a variety printed materials for individual customers. One great example of this is something HP is doing with some new print-on-demand technology and their Indigo presses.

HP, in partnership with Rick Smolan co-creator of the best selling “Day in the Life” and “America 24/7 books), recently announced “The OBAMA Time Capsule,” a first of its kind customizable coffee table book showcasing President Barack Obama’s journey to the White House including his first 100 days in office. The book will be exclusively available online at

HP’s print on demand (POD) technology makes it possible to offer readers the ability to customize the content of their book and print on demand, eliminating costs and paper waste typically associated with traditional book publishing.
“From grass roots Facebook campaigns to YouTube videos, the Obama campaign took the presidential race to a new level in terms of personalization,” said Smolan, co-founder of Against All Odds Productions (AAO).  “By combining our team’s compelling story telling techniques with HP’s state-of-the-art POD publishing platform, we’re enabling millions of people to seamlessly merge this moment in history with their own personal experiences.”

To create a book, readers purchase the product on Then, using HP’s POD platform via the Internet, readers simply answer a few questions, upload personal photos and text and hit “publish.”  The result is a photo rich book, merging each buyer’s name, photos and comments with photographs by America’s leading photographers and original commentary from noted writers. Unique customization features include:

• A personalized dedication page
• Name on the cover and title page as “co-author”
• Personal photo displayed on book’s back cover
• A personalized mobile phone text message from President Obama
• A personalized inauguration invitation
• Personal photo appears next to key “who’s who” Obama supporters
• Children’s artwork added to a page of Obama-related artwork from children around the country

To make this book possible, HP developed a Web-based platform that “publishes the book” by uploading the reader’s customized pages to a designated print service provider (PSP), which then prints the book using HP’s Indigo digital presses. By leveraging the web-based platform, publishers eliminate the need for large press runs and remove prepublication costs. Additionally, by only printing what is necessary, excess inventory and waste are eliminated.   

“In the digital world, the mash-up of professional and personal content is happening all the time. We’re bringing the same capabilities into print by allowing people to customize content before it’s published," said Michael Mendenhall, Chief Marketing Officer, HP. “Together with forward-thinking publishers like Rick Smolan, HP is democratizing print publishing and innovating new business models that capitalize on this fundamental shift occurring in the industry.”  

This type of personalization is beginning to show up in a number of digital imaging product categories as we’ve seen digital picture frame manufacturers offering consumers the ability to upload high-quality images from pro photographers to add to their own slideshows. The addition of music to these slideshows for DVDs is also a continued “Mash-up” of professional and personal content worlds.

“Consumers are telling stories with their images and video today and they want those stories to be as compelling as possible and as personal as possible,” explained Martha Refik, a Connecticut-based retail consultant. “This type of technology from HP and several others is playing to that trend perfectly. Offer consumers this ability to put their own creative stamp on something and very few will turn it down.”