Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tech Search Party: Yearbooks, Therapy, and Smithys

Yearbooks, Therapy, and Smithys
One of this year’s sponsors is TreeRing, which makes personalized school yearbooks. I managed the Alvarado yearbook for two years, took last year off, and am taking it on again this year.
I’m unabashedly biased toward TreeRing, but let me tell you why. With TreeRing, you get to create your own personal pages that are incorporated into the larger book created by the yearbook team. Your best and favorite photos will absolutely be in your yearbook.
Flash back to 1980. I grew up in a largely Sicilian town outside of Boston. So it wasn’t surprising that the largest section of my class yearbook was the d’ section. D’Onofrio, D’Agostino, d’Fiori and on and on. What was surprising was when I received my yearbook and my name was misspelled. They could spell d’Blazianata just find but couldn’t even spell Smith properly. Yes, I’m Timothy ‘Smithy’ in the Revere High School Lantern. Imagine my joy.
Furthermore, in a yearbook with hundreds of pages and probably thousands of photos I only appear with my official school photo. No candids at all. One member of the yearbook club was in 54 photos. Yes, I counted. The closest I came is that you can see my right ear in one of herphotos. Bitter? Check. Angry at the yearbook committee? Check. Determined not to let this happen to my kids? Absolutely.
So when I heard of TreeRing and the fact that you get to create your own pages with as many of your own photos as you want, well, you can imagine my joy.  READ MORE

Thursday, January 24, 2013

USA Today: College Yearbooks Retain Relevance in Print

USA Today Logo
College yearbooks retain relevance in print
By Jacob Hawkins
The school yearbook is an institution for middle and high school students, summoning eager requests for signatures, crushes surrounded by red-penned hearts and — if you’re really into it — dotting your “i” with a heart on the yearbook of someone you absolutely adore.

But that’s kid stuff, right?

In college, the yearbook’s role isn’t as well defined. In an age where everything from your morning eggs to last Friday night are instantly documented — sepia filter and all — on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, the yearbook is something of an enigma.

The Associated Collegiate Press (ACP), a national organization providing support and recognition to college newspapers, journals and, yes, yearbooks, holds the need for college yearbooks in high regard.

“Yearbooks document a school year in a permanent, accessible way that social media can’t,” said Logan Aimone, the executive director of ACP.

Aimone points to campus libraries that devote entire sections to preserving the annual tomes.

ACP considers the yearbook a form of journalism, and holds annual competitions to critique and reward yearbook submissions. The ACP bestows the Pacemaker award, regarded by many as the highest honor for college journalists.

And unlike some journalism outlets, the yearbook doesn’t seem like it will transition to a strictly digital presence.

“I have not seen an online-only college yearbook, period,” Aimone said.

But that doesn’t mean yearbooks are ignoring the online world altogether.

TreeRing is an online company that bridges the gap between the digital world and a print edition by offering personalized, on-demand yearbooks.

In addition offering print versions, TreeRing offers a free online yearbook that allow peers to view and digitally sign friends’ pictures.

“At large universities you are often buying a yearbook that isn’t about you at all,” said TreeRing Chief Executive Officer Aaron Greco. “For us, it is all about inserting those personal memories.”

Greco said that while his company does offer a digital-only version of the yearbook, in every instance the schools they work with opt to print. The publishing practices of a yearbook vary, but the content is likely to remain the same.

Rachel Wisinski, a junior at Indiana University – Bloomington and editor-in-chief of her college’s yearbook, the Arbutus, says a yearbook’s role is clear and unwavering.

“I don’t think yearbooks need to change,” she said. “A newspaper has to get the news out as soon as possible, but a yearbook doesn’t have to rely on that. … It is evergreen.”

The customer doesn’t seem to demand content change either. The ACP has reported that, at least since 2007, it hasn’t seen a decline in the number of college yearbooks being produced.

And for TreeRing, business has grown steadily since it opened its doors.

On the front lines, Wisinski said that while sales of the Arbutus haven’t necessarily declined significantly, tactics have had to be beefed up to ensure students continue to find yearbooks worth their money.

“It is more of a push now. Before, the yearbook may have been seen as a more prominent media, now you just have to work harder to hook them,” Wisinski said.