Andrew Balcombe

WowBooks have arrived on the personalised book production scene with a bang! We’re taking the sector to a whole new level of quality and appeal with our high production values and innovative capabilities. The best placed person to give more details about this exciting new venture is our Founder, Andrew Balcombe, so we took the opportunity to ask him some questions.

What is WowBooks?
WowBooks is the culmination of print expertise, production experience and bespoke technology. We decided that by combining all these skills and knowledge, we could deliver high quality personalised books to our target audience

Why did you create WowBooks?
Because we believe there is a need for a focused offering in a growth market. We’ve done this successfully in the past in the print finishing and print management sectors. Now we aim to do it with with personalised book production.

What is the WowBooks grand plan?
That would be telling! I can say that we are launching with Phase 1, which is to provide a dedicated production service to publishers of personalised books, such as Photobooks and Storybooks. Plans for Phase 2 are also well underway.

What challenges have you faced along the way?
We’re fortunate to have an enormous talent and knowledge pool on the production side so our main challenge has been on the technology front. We’ve spent 18 months developing software to enable us to automate the entire process from consumer website to the consumer’s letterbox. We’ve also been developing new finishing solutions to best suit this market and in particular Lay-Flat – you could say we’ve been working flat out to perfect this!

What has been the response to WowBooks so far?
Very good. We’ve already started working with consumer publishers in the UK and mainland Europe. And we’ve strong interest from several others, including US publishers who are looking to enter the European market. Some of our unique Lay-Flat products, in particular, have captured interest.

Why are WowBooks different?
We are a brand dedicated to consumer publishers. We see this as a three-part service offering: software development; digital print and finishing; and global logistics. All three are of equal importance to our overall offering and each will improve and enhance our customers’ current personalised printing experience.

Why do you think your offering will be important in the market?
The much sought-after triple whammy of speed, product innovation and pricing. All three will be highly appropriate for publishers

Do you think people still take the time to print and read books?
More than ever. My last business was Rough Trade, a large vinyl retailer. The introduction of digital services (Spotify, iTunes) has helped vinyl sales increase by over 500% in the last five years. The same is happening with photography. It’s so easy for us now to take great pictures so every day we’re taking millions. Ultimately though, we will always love physical things – something tangible – so if the order process is slick enough, and the products are good enough, the personalised book market will enjoy the same growth.

Why is it so important to move with the times?
Because nothing stays the same. The Digital Age has dramatically accelerated the pace of change in business. Even in our commercial digital print business, VR Print, we’ve noticed the speed of change. It’s a given now that our software can automatically check and adjust client’s artwork or allow customers to track their deliveries at any time. These kinds of services would have been unthinkable in a print business even five years ago.

Where do you see the future of personalised consumer publishing?
There are many fantastic publishers specialising in personalised products for consumers. With this much talent in the industry, and the speed of technology change, it’s inevitable this market will rapidly develop. For WowBooks, the speed and ease with which consumers can order products is key, and also being able to do this on any mobile device. We also see the merging of physical and digital content developing, making them interactive.

How soon do you think we will start to see these developments?
They’re happening already! That’s why we’re so excited to be launching WowBooks right now, as the boundaries of print and production expand more and more.