Yahoo gets ready for the holiday shopping season with Flickr Photo Books.
Good news for shutterbugs looking for an easy holiday gift: Flickr, the Yahoo-owned photo-sharing site, announced Wednesday that it's giving users the option to turn their photo sets into printed, hardcover books.
Not that Flickr is the first site to offer to print your snapshots. Other companies like Shutterfly have been selling custom photo books for years.
But Flickr is betting that its product's clean design — full-bleed images on Lustre-finish paper with no text or captions — will attract photo enthusiasts who don't want Comic Sans or clip art cluttering up their vacation photographs.
Flickr Photo Books, as they're officially called, are designed to quickly turn any Flickr image set into a binded 11-by-8.5-inch book, with prices starting at $34.95 for a 20-page book.
That could help Yahoo recoup the costs of deciding to hand out 1 terabyte of free storage to Flickr users earlier this spring.
The new product makes it extremely simple to start shelling out cash. Whenever Flickr users hover over a photo set, they will now see a book icon. After clicking, they can just let Flickr do all of the work, thanks to software that, according to the company, will "analyze your photos and intelligently crop, position, and place them automatically."
More-discerning photographers can use Flickr's tools to crop and position their photos. For the lazy gift-giver, however, whipping up a custom bundle of photogenic memories is as easy as clicking a few times and waiting five to seven days for the finished product to show up on someone's doorstep.
Yahoo's move could help distinguish its photo-sharing site from competitors such as Google and Facebook. A number of small companies, like Social Print Studios, maker of Printstagram, have cropped up over the last few years to create products out of people's photos on Instagram, which was bought by Facebook in 2012 for more than $700 million.
With Flickr Photo Books, Yahoo can cut out the the middleman and keep the holiday cash for itself. The service is currently only available in the continental United States, but Yahoo says that it's planning to expand beyond that "soon."
Keith Wagstaff writes about technology for NBC News. He previously covered the tech beat for TIME's Techland and wrote about politics as a staff writer at TheWeek.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @kwagstaff and reach him by email at: Keith.Wagstaff@nbcuni.com
First published November 20 2013, 1:43 PM