Echo Memoirs create luxurious and coffee-table quality memoir and keepsake books of your pet for a lifetime of precious memories
by Maria Coder
They say everybody has a story to tell. And now, so does every pooch. We're not talking a measly little write up buried in some newspaper somewhere. Paw-lease. These dogs tell their stories in high-quality, crème of the crop, style. And for the right price, your dog can too.
The "stories" are really keepsake books -- made from your favorite photos and excerpts of interviews with those closest to your pet. The outcome is a superbly crafted, professionally designed, memento by Echo Memoirs. The hard cover books start at $3,000, take nearly 200 hours to put together, and are truly one-of-a-kind. Though Echo Memoirs isn't just for pets, its pet books are in high demand.
Samantha Reynolds, president of the Canadian-based company, started toying with the idea of luxury keepsake books 8 years ago and put it to work in 2001. Here she shares the inside scoop.
pp:Why did you decide to create Echo Memoirs? What was your inspiration?
sr: I first came up with the idea because of my grandmother. It was a sad start. I did a degree in journalism and had worked as a freelance graphic designer and I had always hoped to capture my grandmother's life story. Unexpectedly she slipped into dementia. She didn't have recollection. It was just like a delete button was pressed on her memory. I made a decision, as a hobby, to start capturing the people in my life.
I endeavored at the beginning to do stories for people. I was doing a story about a woman who never had any children, so the story was really heavily concentrated on her dog. I showed that book around to a few people; a lot of them felt it was a fabulous idea to celebrate a pet's history. It was such a surprise to me because the first year we did almost as many as pet books as we did people books!
pp:What sets you apart from other companies that make keepsake books?
sr: Our books are designed with a story component. We interview our clients about their pets. We create a coffee table book and we have the ability to create just one coffee table book. It's not a scrapbook. It's a very professionally produced book. You would look at our book and think it was bought at Chapters or Barnes and Noble! We do all our binding in-house. All our books are limited edition even though they look as ten thousand copies were done. We also retell the stories in the first person. Your story would read as though you had written it yourself.
pp:Why do you think it's important for people to have a memory about a pet like this?
sr: Pets are part of the family. I think, just like we want to remember and celebrate family members, it's important to celebrate and remember the pets that have graced our lives. It's really a beautiful way of sharing. These books sit out on our clients' coffee tables for years -- guests that come over will flip through the books.
We all know what it's like to forget some of the millions of details that we experience with our pets every day over the course of time. It's just human nature that over time our memories tend to fade; we can help preserve those details. We have interviewers across Canada and in the United States. If we have a client in a region where we don't have an interviewer we can do the interview over the phone. So much of the life of the story comes through in the enthusiasm of the person.
pp:How do you get the photos for the books? Do you arrange for photo shoots?
sr: We borrow about 40 photographs. All the photos are returned. We can also arrange for a professional photo shoot. Lots of times we do photos of our clients with their pets but the majority of the time we just use our clients' photos.
pp:Do you design all of the books yourself?
sr: We have a staff now, so there are five of us. We have an editorial team and a design team but I stay very connected to all of the books. It's really my job to make sure no book leaves our studio without the Echo Memoirs stamp of approval and I'm really a perfectionist. We'll even match the colors of the books to match your living room.
pp:How long does the process take and how much does it cost?
sr: Usually about three months but we can do books more quickly. Pet books are $3000, extra copies are $250 each. 200 hours of work goes into one book counting the interviews, editing, and design. Each book takes about eight hours to hand bind. Our clients have ample opportunity to see the draft of the text and the draft of the design before it goes to print. All the materials we use are archival and high-end; the book is definitely made to last forever.
We can do rush orders but there is an additional fee for rush projects. If someone needs a book in a rush, all they have to do is pick up the phone, give us a call, and three weeks later they have a book on their doorstep.
pp:What's the most rewarding part of running Echo Memoirs?
sr: I am insatiably curious about the stories of people and the relationships that they have and that includes the ones people have with their pets. I think those are the purest and most loving relationships that we have. Life moves so fast these days that I love to be able to provide a really beautiful piece of art to my clients. I could sit and listen to peoples' stories of relationships with their pets for eight hours a day five days a week and not get bored for an instant.
pp:Do you ever feel that the cost of your books is steep?
sr: We have to charge what we charge because it takes 200 hours to produce one book... I'd love to be able to do it for free. if I won the lottery tomorrow I'd continue doing what I'm doing for free. Lots of times families will split the costs... people find a way of making it happen. Of course, it's a luxury pet item so it seems to resonate and be an attractive gift idea. We have 100 percent cry rate. No one's ever picked up our book that they've been given and not cried.
One of our clients, in particular, drives a Ferrari. He can buy anything he wants, he's done very well for himself; but when his wife did a pet book for him for Valentine's Day he wrote us back and said this was the best gift he'd ever gotten and he's been given a lot of really expensive things, so that was really special to hear.
pp:Do you have any pampered puppies in your life? If so, we'd love to hear about them!
sr: I had a Golden Retriever named Wyatt; unfortunately, he passed peacefully two years ago. He definitely inspired this though. His spirit is with me when I do pet books and interviews for sure.
You can find out more about Echo Memoirs from their web site at www.echomemoirs.com