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Shutterfly launches 'photo book' social network

After acquiring a site personalization start-up, photo-publishing company creates way for members to make virtual photo albums to share with (and get rated by) others.

Do we really need another outlet for photo sharing? Shutterfly thinks so.

The photo-printing service, best known for publishing custom calendars, albums, posters, and other photography-infused goods, announced on Wednesday the launch of "Shutterfly Gallery," a social network that is sort of like a Flickr for the scrapbooking set.

Shutterfly Gallery is the first major project launched since the publicly traded company acquired Nexo Systems, a Web site personalization start-up. Nexo's technology has provided the technology for the new social-networking arm of Shutterfly.

Shutterfly Gallery encourages "storytelling" (see, I told you it would appeal to scrapbook lovers) through the creation and sharing of online photo books that can be themed and customized with backgrounds, text, and tags. Members can also rate one another's albums (Ouch! "Scott and Nancy: The First 2 Months" has only two stars!), create profiles, and embed their photo books into Web sites or blogs.

"Our customers are inspiring and enthusiastic storytellers, and have asked for a way to share their stories with other customers and the general public," Jeffrey Housenbold, president and CEO of Shutterfly, said in a statement Wednesday. "Now we are providing them more ways to tell their stories."

Cat lovers, camera-happy vacationers, and proud parents of the world, rejoice!