Livebooks Targets Photojournalists with New Low-Cost, Template-Based Websites

April 6, 2009
By Dan Havlik, PDN's Technology Specialist

liveBooks Photojournalism

Seeking to expand its user-base to include more photojournalists, website portfolio provider liveBooks announced last week that it's offering a new low-cost, template-based service in partnership with two photojournalism groups – FiftyCrows and National Geographic All Roads Photography Program.

The do-it-yourself website service, dubbed liveBooks Photojournalism is being offered for a monthly fee of $44, which includes set-up, hosting, and email. Photojournalists also have the option of purchasing a yearly subscription for $444 (which saves two months of costs); or they can buy the online portfolio service outright, for a one-time fee of $1,144.

Those costs are a major markdown from the normal price of a custom liveBooks site which sells for a one-time fee of around $2,800. (The final price depends on which options a photographer chooses.)

During an interview and demo of the new service with PDNGearGuide, liveBooks president and CEO Andy Patrick said that along with the lower price, the easy set-up of the pre-designed templates in liveBooks Photojournalism should appeal to on-the-go photojournalists.

"A photographer can come in and immediately select from one of hundreds of websites, enter a credit card, and they're basically up-and-running at that point," Patrick said. "We really want to try to attract a large cross-section of international and domestic photojournalists, everyone from the emerging to the established."

Though, at this point, it's limited to photojournalists in the two groups – Patrick is actually founder of FiftyCrows  – liveBooks plans to expand the service to eight "additional leaders in international photojournalism and documentary photography in the near future."

liveBooks, however, does not plan to make the service available to the bulk of its approximately 6000 clients, which mostly include wedding and commercial photographers.

"We've done a lot to make this affordable to photojournalists because we're trying to bring in the social change aspect to all this. But this is about as far as we can push it," Patrick told PDNGearGuide. "The bottom line is we can't do this for everybody because it would completely kill off our cashflow and we would go out of business."

During a demo of the service, the process of choosing templates, uploading photos, and designing web pages appeared relatively easy and seamless. In fact, a couple of the example websites we looked at which had been designed with liveBooks Photojournalism looked as good as sites designed with the premium service.

When asked if he thought struggling wedding and commercial photographers might resent that they're not permitted to take advantage of the lower-priced liveBooks Photojournalism service, Patrick reiterated that it was a dollars and cents issue.

 "If we sell a website we get $2,800. But if we sell this we get $44 for the month. There's a long pay off until we're breaking even (with liveBooks Photojournalism)," he noted.

Whereas premium custom liveBooks sites are more focused on individual images, some of the liveBooks Photojournalism examples we reviewed showcase photo packages and image story-telling, which was Patrick's and liveBooks' founder Michael Costuros' aim with the new service.

"This is something Michael and I talked about from the first meeting we had," Patrick said. "When we first started showing this idea, we knew it would be perfect for storytelling on a global basis."

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