- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 13, 2001

The computer hard drive has replaced the overflowing-with-snapshots shoe box hidden under the bed, thanks to the refinement of the digital photo process. Unfortunately, the shoe box and hard drive still have something in common sharing photos or presenting a gift of memories can be a time-consuming and sometimes impossible endeavor.

Hoping to change that, MyPublisher.com (www.mypublisher.com) from Recollections has put a new tech spin on photo archiving by helping consumers affordably take the step from hard-drive album to hard-bound picture book using an online software suite and some Internet magic.

The program allows the user to create a 10-page, 60-image, hard-bound photo album filled with text, backgrounds and borders in less than 15 minutes and for less than $30 ($3 extra for each additional page). The finished creation is then shipped to the customer within 48 hours.

The hardcover book, complete with Florentine marble end sheets, is available with blue, green or red linen covers and enhancements that include leather bindings ($10 more), a slipcase ($10) and a laminated book jacket ($5). Paper stock is acid-free and of archival quality; it should last for many generations.

The end cost and effort can be considerably less than the expense and work of buying an album and pages, duplicating images and laying out the album. The time needed to create a Recollections memory book can be as little as a few minutes, and extra copies are available with the click of a button for $10 off the price of the first copy.

A nice feature, courtesy of the information highway, allows several people to work on the same album, as long as they have an Internet hookup. This means siblings across the country can help create that perfect gift for their parents.

When creating an album, users first decide the degree to which the software will help place the photos on a 9-inch-by-111/4-inch page. Personalization tools include choosing a cover photo and book title and then adding text anything from simple captions to full pages of story to build baby memory books, wedding mementos and vacation chronicles.

The software suites range from Easy Publisher to Easy Publisher Plus to the Custom Publisher versions. All rely on simple drag-and-drop tasks and differ only in the number of options available to the album builder in each suite. For example, using Easy Publisher, mom can turn up to 60 images into a very special brag book for grandma in 60 seconds as long as the digital photos are in jpeg form and are accessible from the user's hard drive.

I found it best to create a file folder on the desktop containing the images for publishing. Don't worry about size, number or order of those jpegs. Once one starts working with the software tools, photos can be deleted and put into order to appear in the book.

The Recollections software will size images automatically, depending on the number of photos and the finished page count. With the click of a button, the photos are then divided among the number of pages in the books (from 10 to 60), or up to six per page.

For the picky designer, Custom Publisher allows a significant number of options. In addition to choosing book color and cover option, one can design text, captions and headlines and determine the placement and number of photos on each page. The software also gives the user backgrounds, borders and the ability to do some minor manipulation of the photos changing their shape or applying a variety of effects, such as feathering the edges or applying a watercolor look.

Background choices include special-occasion themes, such as for birthdays or baby showers, and page frames come in a choice of five colors black, blue, green, red and yellow.

Users who have only hard-copy photos still can take advantage of the system. Recollections will scan up to 20 photos for $9.95 and return them on a CD-ROM, ready to load into the design area.

Overall, the book looked great, but I would suggest that Recollections get a better way to present the finished cover. My cover photo looked like a giant sticker plopped onto a very slick-looking package.

Recollections guarantees to finish the book within 48 hours and charges $5 for standard shipping for the first book ($1 for each additional). A holiday crunch option is the two-day service at $13 plus $2 for each additional book.

Send comments to Joseph Szadkowski, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, D.C. 20002; or send e-mail (jszadkowski@washingtontimes.com).

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