The story of how a book got its own personal identity - The Noel D'Cunha Sunday Colum

By 26 Sep 2021

For some print businesses, going digital can be an afterthought, but, for Zoomin.com, it’s at the heart of everything it does. Not only is the company’s goal to personalise storytelling and make it a household name, its CEO Sachin Katira, aims to build a personalised storybook library in every child’s bedroom

The date: March 2021.
The main character: Sachin Katira, CEO of Mumbai-based Zoomin.com
The narrative: Katira brought together years of experience in digital printing to try to reignite the spark that is personalised storytelling.

When we asked Katira why so? He shared with us that personalised storytelling is a deep-rooted method (that has worked) for generations. He says, “My grandparents would always include my name as one of the characters of the story.”

It was precisely this core insight that triggered the eureka moment and launched Zooboostory.com.

Since its inception in 2007, Zoomin.com, founded by Katira, has been one of the leading online customisation platforms for photo print solutions in the Indian industry.

The Zooboostory
In India, personalised kids storybooks are a big market, but unfortunately, till a few days ago, there weren’t many print companies in India, which catered to this market. The demand for such books, Katira says, was served by printers who were located outside of India.

During the past year, children have grown accustomed to accessing educational and recreational content through online media. Katira noticed that when his two boys were introduced to the educational reading material or even storybooks, it felt like “schoolwork”. That’s when he decided to piggyback on his vast experience in printing and created Zooboostory.com – a platform that integrates a child’s name, personality, and physical features into the storybook.

Katira says, “The simple insight of personalising the storybook by including the child’s name in the story, presented a whole new world of storytelling.” He deployed the HP Indigo digital press backed by W2P infra to fulfil the requirement of personalised storybooks.

Lockdown triggered demand
During the lockdown, many parents were seeking such types of books. Now, most of the printers/publishers or e-retail platforms were providing this facility overseas but it’s always been a costly affair for Indian parents to order these personalised books. “The cost of shipment is more than the cost of books in many cases,” explains Katira, who himself went through the same experience.

He says, “It was searching for personalised storybooks for my own kids, and I found how expensive and unfeasible it is.” That was how Katira had a voila moment! He decided to produce personalised storybooks. He learnt this could be done easily with the power of personalisation deploying HP Indigo technology plus some nifty W2P back-end.

He got on board with his team and started to explore this new business opportunity. “Since Zoomin.com was already revolutionising the online photo printing market using digital printing, I decided to use the same HP Indigo technology platform and consumer base of Zoomin.com.

Zooboostory.com was launched just before the second wave of Covid-19 in India. Katira and his team worked for three months to stitch together the content development team, and created fun stories to read.

In a span of two months, Zooboostory.com printed and shipped 130 storybooks per day, with a capacity to print more than 500 books per day using the HP Indigo press. “In fact, we are now planning and working on creating six new stories every quarter. We are looking forward to expanding this business opportunity by bringing many more innovative commercial print solutions for Indian consumers,” says Katira.

The HP Indigo advantage
Katira’s Zoomin.com is one of the leading players in personalised and customisable merchandising photo albums, coffee table books, and other innovative print-based merchandise.

Katira, in his quest to offer a better customer experience, made the shift to HP Indigo technology to create photo-based print merchandise because "the toner-based system" didn’t provide adequate results and quality due to technical and operational limitations. “Technology is at the heart of our initiatives,” explains Katira, adding, “HP Indigo digital press is the most advanced and cutting-edge printing solution, which became the foundation on which Zooboostory.com was launched.”

HP Indigo along with the Zooboostory team ensured that prints had the right amount of colours, print quality, and media selection and the illustrations were brought to life. With the targeted readership being kids, the vivid blacks and contrasting shades made the vibrant colour prints, a sight for sore eyes. “The CMYK set-up that is based on special colours will bring every illustration to life,” says Katira.

As a result, today Zooboostory online platform is helping many parents in India. To order personalised kids storybooks one has to log in to zooboostory.com and the personalised storybook will get shipped the next day and delivered to the doorstep of the customer within 48 hours.

Managing Zooboostory.com
A critical aspect of the launch was managing scale, which is where the HP Indigo press surpassed expectations. After the customer enters the required details, the company’s back-end system manages to create a print-ready file within minutes.

In fact, to manage scale, the efficiency and features of HP Indigo, enabled the Zooboostory team to print about 700 finished books within an hour. “What makes this a great achievement is this was achieved without compromising on the complexity and individual nature of each story,” says Karita.

So what’s the turnaround time at Zooboostory.com? Katira says, “Owing to optimisation and scaling of technology deployed, Zooboostory.com has the capability to ship out finished personalised storybooks within 24 hours.” He adds, “The Indigo Press’ uptime is fantastic and our relationship with HP has been great. In fact, right after lockdown when we needed HP’s support, and even though public transport wasn’t functional, we had an HP representative at our doorstep to help out.”

What’s more, currently as a platform, it’s much more than a storybook printing service. They have a second target audience that they communicate with – creators and artists. Katira informs, “We're always on the lookout for great illustrators and storytellers who can craft stories.”

So, what’s the kind of stories that Zooboostory.com produces? “The stories are based on different milestones for children such as: birth of a sibling, the importance of sharing and many morality-building tales. All stories must be crafted by delicately knitting nuances and lessons within. The need for great storytellers makes the platform a great hub for those with talents, as well as those seeking them,” says Katira.

Personalisation – challenge no more
Scaling up any business that is built on personalisation has always been a challenge. Can personalised storybooks be produced on a mass scale?

Katira replies, “It’s going to be the norm and it’ll also be the rekindling of the curiosity behind storybooks. When the child reads about him or herself in the story, curiosity is certain.”

Zooboostory.com plans on adding new titles every month, based on a careful screening process. “Not only will this add variety to the story selection, but also opens a great publicity platform for artists to showcase their talents of art and storytelling,” concludes Katira.

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