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Personalised Gifts

Your personal story - 40 years of publishing technology

Written by Jason Groom
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Originally published
December 9 2015,
updated
November 9 2019

With one of our Prime Group specialities being the production of personalised children’s books, we were recently intrigued to find some amazing online memorabilia about them. And fascinated to discover just how much things have changed over 40 years!

As far back as 1972/3 – not that long after the first moon landing and the end of flower power - the US brand ‘Me Books’ was offering just such a product. The promotional blurb made it sound like something out of ‘Tomorrow’s World’...

‘Never before has there been a book like “My Friendly Giraffe”. It’s a true product of the Computer Age.’

Obviously not the home computer age – that was still a good 20 years away. And what the 1972 consumer had to do to get the computer to uniquely personalise a book for their ‘favourite little boy’ was pretty convoluted and would – in today’s terms - take forever.

They had to fill in a comprehensive form, having first cut it out of the newspaper or magazine ad: all manner of lifestyle details about their target child. Send it by post to the publisher, enclosing a cheque for $3.95... then wait while the computer ‘worked its magic’. What they’d eventually get back – yonks later - was a story book, personalised with a few names and a choice of basic drawing to represent boy or girl.

So what’s changed in 40 years? 

  • Today they’ll fill in details online, choose a representative avatar from a wide selection, and upload a digital photograph of their child. This could well appear on the book’s cover
  • Thanks to e-commerce they’ll pay for it electronically, immediately, and a computerised digital printer would begin to process the personal data into a chosen book within minutes of it being sent
  • The book would be printed and ready for despatch – often within 24 hours - because that’s what the market now demands. Today’s consumers would find  a 2 or 3 week wait totally unacceptable!
  • In relative terms, an infinitely more sophisticated personalised book will actually cost less. 

And what hasn’t?
A young child’s open-mouthed sense of wonder at getting a proper, grown-up book all about their own little world! We suspect that even 400 years from now, a beautifully personalised children’s book will still make a truly magical present.

So there you go. Every grandparent, parent, aunt and uncle’s surprise Christmas gift problem sorted... in no time flat!

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