It can be hard to imagine sometimes, but the non-stop founding of Internet startups comes with a high rate of attrition. While it would be nice to think that the companies with the best technology will survive, that’s obviously not the case. ZangZing and QOOP, two companies that we’ve written about, and whose services we’ve used, will be closing their virtual doors soon, and we’ll miss them.
ZangZing’s goal was to provide a service that would make it easy for members of groups to share photos with one another, something that’s difficult to do well with the better-known photo sharing sites. I ran across ZangZing while looking to make it possible for parents of the Ithaca cross-country team members to share race photos, and I was struck by how well it met those needs and how slick its Web interface was, without relying on Flash (see “Group Photo Sharing Grows Up with ZangZing,” 3 October 2011).
Alas, on 27 June 2012, ZangZing sent email to all subscribers announcing that signups and photo uploads would be halted as of 2 July 2012, and that the service itself would be shut down entirely on 31 August 2012, at which point all photos, contact information, and account information will be deleted permanently. Luckily, a feature I requested at some point makes it easy to download all your photos stored at ZangZing. Just log in, mouse over the album you want to download, click the i menu, and choose Download to get a Zip file containing all the photos in that album. Download each album sequentially, since some browsers can cause simultaneous downloads to become corrupted.
Although I haven’t been able to touch base with Joseph Ansanelli, one of ZangZing’s founders and a Claris Organizer/Newton alum, to learn more about what went wrong, I suspect that the company simply wasn’t able to implement its business model quickly enough before funding ran out. It’s also likely that ZangZing’s group photo sharing niche either wasn’t as large as anticipated or that the company was unable to get the word out sufficiently to groups that would use it.
While ZangZing was a relatively young company, the print-on-demand firm QOOP had been around for 7 years, providing print-on-demand services for our Take Control ebooks as well as any Internet user who wanted to sell photo prints, books, posters, calendars, mouse pads, business cards, and more. We started using them early on in 2006, since Joe Kissell had previously worked with one of the founders of the company, and we were able to integrate them into our systems.
With revenues no longer keeping up, the folks at QOOP have been looking for a buyer for the company for a few months now. But since no buyer was forthcoming, they’ve said the site would close for good on 30 June 2012. Outstanding orders will be fulfilled. We removed links to QOOP from the Take Control site recently, when it became clear that it wasn’t likely that a buyer would emerge from the wings to revitalize the firm.
We’ll certainly miss ZangZing, and if anyone has come across a similar site that enables multiple people in a group to upload photos to a single central location for sharing with the group, please let me know. But we’re feeling the loss of QOOP more keenly, since it was a part — a small part, admittedly — of the service we provide with Take Control. We’re all about ebooks, but there are people who prefer to read on paper, and we were pleased we could offer QOOP’s print-on-demand service for those people. Finding a replacement for QOOP is non-trivial, since although there are a vast number of companies that offer print-on-demand services, sorting through them to find one that can integrate with our systems and create the books we want for a reasonable price is a daunting research task.
For the moment, anyone who is interested in printing a Take Control PDF should investigate FedEx Office Print Online (née Kinkos), Staples Copy&Print, or Office Depot Copy & Print Depot. We’ve heard from readers in the past that these sort of services — and copy shops in general — may fuss about the fact that you’re trying to reproduce a copyrighted work, though most don’t pay any attention. We’re looking into changing the copyright page for future books to allow a print service to output a single copy for personal use, but in the meantime, if you have trouble, let me know and we’ll see what we can do.