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Epson Makes Photo Publishing Easy with StoryTeller

By Po Wong     Oct 28, 2005 in Technology
Digital Journal — In the pre-digital age of photography, you came home from your vacation with dozens of rolls of film, processed them, and wound up with hundreds of photos. The plan was to someday compile these into an album about your wonderful vacation. But that day never came.
Today, digital cameras have by and large replaced film cameras, but the storyline still sounds awfully familiar: You come home from your vacation with your memory card chock full of wonderful digital images. You copy them to your hard disk and say, “Some day, I'll organize these shots and share them with friends and family.” But that day never comes.
Until now.
If you have a Windows PC, a colour inkjet printer, and Epson’s StoryTeller Photo Book Creator kit, all your photo woes can change in a few hours. For only $20, you can painlessly turn those digital photos languishing on your hard disk into colourful books that you can share with others.
The heart of Epson’s StoryTeller Photo Book Creator kit is software that lets you pick from your digital photo collection. Once open, you can drag and drop them into any of six “book styles” or pre-made layouts, assign titles and captions, then print them on your colour inkjet printer. The software is supplemented by some materials: 12 sheets of 5 x 7 photo paper, a blank, hardbound photo album and two wraparound photo paper jackets for your finished book. (There are two other versions of the kit, both providing 8x10 sheets. One version gives you a 10-page album, the other provides a 20-pager.)
The StoryTeller software is easy to use, essentially giving you four simple steps for designing your photo album — select pictures, fix pictures, create book and create cover. Selecting photos for the project is a matter of dragging files from the appropriate folders into a work area. The Fix Pictures module offers a modest set of tools for quick fixes such as removing redeye and applying colour effects. It's not Photoshop, but it'll do for basic retouching work.
In the Create Book step, you first select one of the preset book styles for your photo book. The names of these styles give you an idea of what they look like: for example, "Travelogue", "Way We Were", and "Rock & Roll". Each page consists of frames of varying sizes and shapes into which pictures can be placed. Each style also has a designated font for the titles and captions. To design the book, you simply drag pictures to the desired frames. And if you're really lazy, there’s even an "Auto Book" option that will assemble the book using the pictures and layout you selected. You can then manually add the titles and captions.
When you've filled up your 10 pages, it's time for the Create Cover step — again, nothing more complicated than dragging the desired photos and adding text to the designated frames.
The final step is printing the book, and even though this kit is made by Epson, you aren’t required to use an Epson printer to publish a photo book. This is a nice feature because many other manufacturers would force you into upgrade.
The well-written manual provides clear instructions for using various Epson, HP, and Canon printers, as well as tips for using other types of printers. Naturally, your results and production time will vary according to the kind of printer you have. For our test we used an HP Deskjet 450 with a tri-colour cartridge (not the photo colour cartridge) that printed sharp and vivid photos.
Many photo album kits include plain layouts with uniform-sized photos, but the Epson StoryTeller album turned out very nice with photos of various shapes and sizes with attractive titles and captions.
When all 10 pages had been printed, it was a breeze — even for the crafts-challenged among us — to assemble them into the hardbound photo album using the included adhesive strips. The final product was very polished, and the book is definitely a cut above the traditional album.
Our compact HP inkjet printer had more difficulty when it came to printing the cover, as we couldn’t get it to properly print on the supplied 20-inch photo paper. Fortunately, Epson provides an alternative way to produce a cover: You simply print the front and back covers on 5 x 7 prints then stick them to the book using the supplied adhesive strips. At the end of the exercise, we had an attractive photo album ready for sharing.
The well-thought-out Epson StoryTeller Photo Book Creator is one of those rare cases where an inexpensive product doesn't result in a cheap-looking result. Finally, it's worth printing all those vacation photos.
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