liveBooks expands into output with acquisition of Pinhole Pro & Pinhole Press

David Haueter
Oct 23, 2012

liveBooks, a leader in providing web services (websites, blog solutions, mobile sites, etc.) to professional photographers for years, has made a major change in their product portfolio by acquiring Pinhole Pro and Pinhole Press from Mohawk. The acquisition will give liveBooks pro photographer clients the option of offering high-quality output to their customers and will allow liveBooks to compete more directly with companies like Mpix and SmugMug (among others) that offer both portfolio and output services.

Mohawk has been in business since 1931 and is at their core a paper company, though they have expanded into other markets over the last few years to maintain relevance in a world where digital media and e-commerce is having a significant impact. Mohawk has been a paper provider to companies in the photo output market, and saw a need for the market to move upstream with quality and design options that wasn’t being met. In 2010 Mohawk launched two photo creation platforms Pinhole Pro (targeted at pro photographers) and Pinhole Press (targeted at enthusiast photographers) to raise awareness on these issues and bring to the market photo merchandise products that placed an emphasis on quality and design esthetics.

While Mohawk was directly involved in the output market for a couple of years, they felt their goals had been met and the timing was right for the liveBooks acquisition. There was also a previous relationship between the two companies, as Mohawk had a small equity stake in liveBooks, and liveBooks CEO Andy Patrick was on the Mohawk Board of Directors. With the deal, liveBooks has acquired all the assets of Pinhole Pro/Pinhole Press, and the Pinhole personnel will continue to work out of Mohawk’s Albany, New York office location for the time being. “We always felt like print-on-demand would be powerful when paired with a website offering,” said Mohawk VP of Marketing Bart Robinson. “Combining Pinhole Pro and Pinhole Press with liveBooks will let them take the brands to this next level.”

The Pinhole Pro business is an obvious fit for liveBooks in the pro photographer side of the market, but it should be interesting to see what, if anything, liveBooks does with the Pinhole Press business, which caters to the consumer market and is new territory for liveBooks. In the meantime, Mohawk continues to push the envelope when it comes to what is traditionally a paper company can do with their business, with services such as MakeReady (www.mohawkmakeready.com) that provides how-to content to printer clients, and the acquisition of Bravo Solutions, which provides substrates specifically for digital printing. It should be interesting to see how both Mohawk and liveBooks evolve their businesses over the next couple of years as they move in new directions.

Find out more about the U.S. photo merchandise market in InfoTrends’ 2012 U.S. Photo Merchandise End-user Survey: Opportunities Beyond Prints

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