Whether with hardcover, softcover or embossed leather binding, whether in landscape or portrait format, whether large or small: photo books come in every conceivable variety. But a photo book that literally grows with you? That’s possible, too, and has been for a short time now. With his start-up Grow.Photos, Axel Lilienblum has rethought the photo book concept and packaged it into a business model that combines the simple design of photo book pages via an app with a subscription model. Bernd Zipper talked to Axel Lilienblum in the brand-new episode of “Zippers Insights” about exactly how Grow.Photos works – and how a trained physicist comes up with the idea of shaking up the photo book market.
The principle of a photo book is actually simple: select and sort pictures, place them on the pages in a photo book editor, design the cover, send off the order and wait for the finished product. But between family, work and household and – let’s face it – the sheer volume of images that everyone collects ever since smartphone photography, there’s often too little time for what sounds so simple. And then it gets complicated with the implementation. That’s how Axel Lilienblum felt before he founded Grow.Photos in 2021.
“I was and am simply dissatisfied with the solutions that exist in the photo sector,” he explains in conversation with Bernd Zipper. But he didn’t want to just put out the next photo book. So, what if a photo book was no longer seen as a self-contained project, but as something that continues to grow – and literally grows with you? That is exactly the core of Grow.Photos.
A photo book on a monthly subscription
“Grow.Photos is an expandable photo book to which pages are gradually added,” explains Axel Lilienblum in the latest episode of Zippers Insights. “The creation of the pages is thereby kept quite uncomplicated and is ideally done on a monthly basis.” Grow.Photos therefore deliberately breaks with the “unwritten law” that photo books must be perfect-bound or saddle-stitched – and combines photo book production with a subscription model:
Using an app and a specially developed editor designed to keep the design of photo book pages as simple as possible, four pages are designed each month and printed and delivered together with a cover page. In this way, the creation of a photo book is divided into many small bites and the overall effort is reduced. And the type of photo book is also correspondingly different, because it comes in a stylishly designed and high-quality ring binder, in which the respective current pages are quickly sorted. The album is enclosed in an equally elegant slipcase. And when one is full, there is automatically a new album.
Even though Grow.Photos is still relatively new on the market, the company is already seeing lively interest in the market. In the first step, Axel Lilienblum and his team are focusing primarily on new parents. How customers are reacting to the photo book in the subscription model, what is important to Lilienblum in the collaboration with his print partners and what steps are next for the Berlin start-up – in keeping with its own name “Grow” – can be found out in detail and quite conveniently in the latest podcast episode.