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Black Book Revamps Photography Site

BrandEra.com Inc. next month expects to introduce an easier-to-use version of BlackBook.com, the online version of The Black Book, a directory of commercial photographers that targets advertising agencies and corporate marketing departments.

Slated for debut sometime between Jan. 8 and Jan. 20, the site reportedly will be transformed from passive listings to allow more user interaction.

“Now it becomes a business tool, rather than just a showcase,” said Christina Holbrook, president and publisher of The Black Book, New York.

A key upgrade will be the BlackBook.com's improved search and selection criteria for advertisers — an idea borrowed from BrandEra.com Inc.'s Portfolios.com creative directory for mid-level professionals.

Chief among the new features are the Multifolio service with beefed-up personalization features and the Electronic Leave Behind e-mail portfolio that can be sent to prospects, buyers and contacts.

The publication's Contact Sheet bimonthly newsletter will appear online as well, complemented by an industry news digest for information relevant to Black Book users.

BrandEra.com Inc., Toronto, will promote BlackBook.com through parties and promotional events for the printed publications, supported by a combination of print ads, direct mail and presence at the PhotoEast and PhotoWest trade shows.

Links on BrandEra.com Inc. sites such as MediaLot.com, adsGallery.com, Portfolios.com and its namesake also will link to BlackBook.com.

BrandEra.com Inc. bought The Black Book in April. It positions itself as a business-to-business marketplace for creative, advertising and marketing professionals.

In business for 30 years, The Black Book last year posted revenues of $4 million through free but controlled circulation of three source books.

The flagship Black Book Photography is distributed annually to ad agencies, design firms, book and magazine publishers, record labels and inhouse corporate marketing departments. Domestic circulation is 19,000, with international adding another 5,000.

Black Book Illustration's two versions, however, are distributed to 22,000 qualified recipients in the United States and to 2,000 overseas. The third, Black Book AR 100, a showcase of the top 100 annual reports of the year, goes to only 7,000 recipients in the United States and 1,000 abroad.

Nearly 900 photographers' works are showcased in Black Book Photography. To feature, a photographer pays $8,000 for a two-page spread in the book. Online, the tentative price for a 12-image portfolio is $600.

“Right now we do charge people to be on the site, but we're not handling e-commerce at the moment and probably will not be [handling] e-commerce for another six months,” Holbrook said.

Migrating the print publications' content to a better site also will save money in the long run, though for now it will be an expense.

The printing and distribution costs of Black Book Photography, Black Book Illustration and Black Book AR 100 are $1 million, $300,000 and $200,000, respectively.

Still, “the Internet is a much more cost-effective way for us to enhance our business and for the artists to handle their clients,” Holbrook said.

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