Chatbooks: The new-age scrapbook

Ari Davis
Chatbooks are printed at a printing plant in Provo.

Scrapbooks may be a thing of the past, but preserving memories and pictures have always been a passion for BYU alumni and Provo residents Nate and Vanessa Quigley. Together they are the CEOs and owners of Chatbooks, a company that creates custom photo books instantly from users’ Instagram feeds.

The Quigleys have a passion of recording their own personal family history. Nate has always been an avid journaler and Vanessa a scrapbooker. As their family of seven has grown and as life has gotten hectic, their meticulous recordings have been put on the back burner. Vanessa Quigley used to spend her free time crafting scrapbooks for her first four children. As she got busier, she no longer had the time to scrapbook and create photo albums for her next three children.

“I got busy and didn’t have the time to make elaborate scrapbooks. I tried creating a book online for my fifth child, but it took forever, and it was so expensive,” she said.

When their seventh child reached kindergarten age, the Quigleys realized they did not have any photo albums or scrapbooks to show him like the ones their oldest children have. However, what they did have was pictures on Instagram.

“We didn’t have fancy scrapbooks to show, but all this time we were capturing the same memories and sharing them digitally on Instagram,” Nate Quigley said.

The pair decided they needed to make an inexpensive, easy and convenient way for people to gather their pictures together into one place. They needed to create something that wasn’t another project for people, but something that didn’t require any work. The Quigleys knew there were other photo book companies out there, so they decided to take a different approach and take all the design decisions and brain-work out of the process.

“If you don’t have to think about it, you’re more likely to do it. We just want everyone to have their pictures in print, and we don’t want people to have to think,” Vanessa Quigley said.

Nate Quigley had prior knowledge in technology, as he had already created two family sharing applications, Folk Story and Shared Family Journal.

Nate Quigley put together a software team. Within a week of the initial idea the software was built and the company started. The first Chatbook was created and sold in June of 2014. Although Nate Quigley helped create the software, he jokes that it was all his wife’s idea. He calls her “CEO, chatbooker and chief.”

“Everyone uses Instagram. It already has the date, picture and journaling. We just needed to figure out how to put it together in a book,” Vanessa Quigley said.

Ari Davis
Chatbooks was originally created as an app connected to a user’s Instagram account and prints off 60 pages of their pictures.

Chatbooks was created as an app that connects to a user’s Instagram account. Every book is the same 6×6 square size printed on a white background. The book costs $6, and shipping is free. Individual Instagram posts are printed on a single page in the Chatbook. Users have the option of including the date stamp, location and caption to the page. Editing captions is easy, and excluding a picture from the Instagram series is as simple as tapping a button in the app.

To make the experience as simple and painless as possible, each Chatbook comes in a 60-page volume. Every 60 Instagram posts a new volume will be created and automatically printed and shipped. Users will receive a notification after they reach 60 pages and will have three days to make any changes. After three days the book is shipped. All that’s left to do is to walk to the mailbox.

“Some people download the app and never open it again. They just receive their books every 60 pictures. It doesn’t get much easier then that,” Nate Quigley said.

There is also an option to create a “chat series,” or collaborative series. Family members or friends can contribute pictures to create their own personal book. Custom books are also an option and range in price.

The Quigleys have coined the phrase, “Chatbooks are making it easy to hold onto what matters.” They feel that there is something important about physically holding onto memories and pictures instead of seeing them through a screen. Chatbooks take people back to the times of scrapbooks and photo albums that sat on the shelf and were taken down to be admired by both adults and children.

“I love Chatbooks because no one really prints pictures anymore, since everything is digital,” said Erin Sanchez, a Sandy resident and mother of five. “It’s so nice to have something to hold that shows where you’ve been. It is truly priceless to see my kids get them off the shelf and look at them.”

Through the year of operation, Chatbooks has grown to 34 employees, of which about half are BYU alumni. Chatbooks sells about 2,000 books a day. Currently, Zen Print in Provo is Chatbooks’ biggest print partner. In the next few months Chatbooks will ramp up printing with a few new partners in Utah.

On Sunday, July 12, Chatbook’s sell count reached 500,000. The Quigleys celebrated this milestone by giving the lucky purchaser a golden ticket good for free Chatbooks for life.

The Quigleys believe customer service has been their pillar to success. Chatbooks has a reprint guarantee. If customers aren’t happy with their book, Chatbooks will refund the money or reprint the book free. Another secret to the company’s success is its support system. Fifteen Chatbooks employees are currently stay-at-home moms who work remotely across the country. These women run the company’s customer service. The Quigleys call these women “the mom force.”

“The majority of our customers are women and moms, and the mom force just gets them,” Nate Quigley said. “Because our mom force spread out throughout the country, someone is always awake. They’ve truly been the voice of the company.”

Chatbookers have more to look forward to in August with the release of Chatbooks 2.0.

“We have really focused on Instagram because it’s the easiest, and because it’s been around for years, this new launch is going to make it easier to get your photos from other places besides Instagram,” Vanessa Quigley said.

The new launch is expected to be released in August and will have new features such as photo subscriptions to Facebook and camera roll.

However, what the Quigleys are most excited about is video Chatbooks. This feature, similar to a photo book, will create an archival DVD of video clips uploaded from a user’s phone through the app.

“Video chatbook will make it easier to watch home family videos because everything will be all together in one place on a DVD,” Nate Quigley said.

With the release of Chatbooks 2.0 there will be a price increase of $2 per book. Up until the launch, users who are currently subscribing to Chatbooks will be grandfathered in to the original $6 price for two years. Another exciting advance coming with Chatbook 2.0 is worldwide shipping.

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