I never thought that I’d be discussing Apple and letterpress in the same sentence, but here I am, discussing Apple and letterpress in the same sentence. Last week, Apple unveiled iLife ’11, a software suite that includes iPhoto, an application that can be used to turn your digital photos into photo books, albums, and other physical items. What has the stationery world buzzing is the announcement that users will be able to create letterpress cards using the latest version of iPhoto. Letterpress cards?!
Cards are available in 15 different styles, and they’re printed on 110# Crane Lettra Cover stock. Cards are $2.99 each, on the less expensive end of the letterpress card spectrum, but not crazy cheap. Photos and personalized text are digitally printed onto the ready to order letterpress cards, so you’ve got some flat printing going on, too. The cards are pretty cute, and photo cards are hot, hot, hot right now, but I’m feeling somewhat torn about this development.
Since the announcement about the new letterpress cards was made, many letterpress printers have expressed their concern about the new iPhone option, and I can see where they’re coming from. I realize that there are letterpress shops of all shapes and sizes out there, but when I think of letterpress, I think of small, artisan shops, not a gargantuan entity like Apple. This begs the question: is there such a thing as mass market letterpress? With the limited availability of presses and those who have the technical knowledge to be able to use them, can there be? If so, is this it? Also, is Apple outsourcing the work to a shop in the US? Overseas?
On the other hand, I see this as a smart marketing move by Apple, who are far from being slouches in marketing their products. Their customer base already consists of the majority of graphic designers, photographers, and other creatives, people who are more likely to know about and purchase letterpress printed goods. A number of these customers may be letterpress printers who are alienated by Apple’s latest move, but Apple’s undoubtedly playing the percentages here, and their goal is to capitalize on the popularity of letterpress, not to place nice with the small, artisan presses who have done the work in bringing the art of letterpress printing back in style.
So, what do you think? Will Apple’s new letterpress card option take the popularity of letterpress to even higher levels? How could Apple’s latest move affect small, artisan printers? Would you purchase these cards?
images from Apple