Hi-tech yearbooks offer new features

Do they cost too much?

TAMPA, Fla. - Along with the times, yearbooks have changed a lot, too. They've gone from the black-and-white days of 1961 to today's feature-packed products.

"A lot of schools are able to do things they find in advertisements," said Steve Ferguson with Balfour Yearbooks.

At Gaither High School in Tampa, the yearbook staff is taking advantage of the digital age.

Everything is done on computers, and for the first time they are using QR codes.

"There's a lot of things that happen in the spring that can now be covered that couldn't be before," said Ferguson.

To use the QR codes, students scan the book with a smart phone. The code pulls up pictures and videos from events that happen after the book goes to press.

"When people hear about it they think it's a new idea. It's different. It's never been done before, hopefully it's a success," said Gaither yearbook editor Jorge Perez.

With all the innovations and full color pages, come higher prices. Yearbooks can now go for well more than $100.

"We have upped the price over the years. The starting price when I got here was $45 and we were losing money," said Gaither yearbook advisor Seppie Slonena.

Balfour Yearbooks said sales rise and fall with the economy. After some tough times, they see sales rising again.

Nationwide they printed more than two million yearbooks last year.

"I have had parents say to me that $60 or $70 is a lot of money, which is very understandable. But if you ask that parent would you take $60 or $70 for your yearbook, not a single parent would do that because the parents see the value in the final product," said Ferguson.

Some schools are finding ways to lower costs by switching to online companies like Tree Ring that advertise no upfront costs for schools.

But one thing that won't change, the desire for students to hold on to those high school memories.

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