WINNIPEG — It’s one of the constant high school staples, along with prom and school pictures: the school yearbook.
But like any printed media, it has gone through dramatic change since its inception. Technology, coupled with a generation of students who can stay in touch via Facebook means that having a yearbook might be a thing of the past.
Dana Felske, vice-president of operations at Vancouver-based Futurebook Yearbooks, said she has seen sales decline in recent years.
“I think we’ve seen up to
30 per cent decrease in the past 10 years. It’s a huge number. It’s the same thing across the board in publishing,” Felske said.
She said she thinks a large part of that is due to how connected students are through social media. Growing up with the Internet means most high school students are not used to having a permanent record of their time in school.
“It’s a lot harder for them to relate to the idea of holding a tangible product now until eternity. The students think Facebook will be around and we as publishers are really fighting against that,” she said.
To appeal to the new generation of students, her company offers a version of the yearbook that has an embedded screen into which schools can load slideshows or video.
But not all publishers agree that the industry is in decline.
Gwen Toonstra, yearbook sales professional at Lifetouch Canada, a Winnipeg-based yearbook company, said she has seen demand for yearbooks increase.
“People have gone the way of digital and realized that might not be the way to go, with technology changing constantly. People do want the hard copy, coloured yearbook to look back on,” she said.
While the industry may or may not have changed, Felske said yearbooks themselves definitely have. As technology has become a bigger part of classrooms, so has teaching technology skills through things like yearbook classes, she said.
“More often in the past it was a club, it was out of school. More often now it’s recognized as a strong class to be provided in the curriculum,” she said.
What this translates to is better-designed books from the students, Felske said.
“Quite often we’re seeing stronger design, layouts. Quite often they’re mimicking magazines, flashy websites or other published material,” she said.
Felske said she’s not sure what the yearbook of the future will look like, but she thinks it will be around for a while longer.
“Too many times in the past people try to come up with a digital replacement and that’s never flied,” she said.
“I think it will survive.”
» Winnipeg Free Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 31, 2013