Sam Allen

Our Blog.
Sam's two cents.

Our Blog. Sam's two cents.

ScanCafe CEO Sam Allen weighs in on industry events, company news, and more.

ScanCafe Named Winner in Money Magazine’s Field Test

I could not have asked for a better Christmas present than this. ScanCafe is the flat out winner in Money Magazine’s photo scanning field test – check out the January 2008 edition. This is outstanding news for us in more ways than are obvious. Clearly it helps our business, but from a personal perspective, it proves that our business model is phenomenal and you can truly find the best quality product at the lowest price with ScanCafe. In fact, quality was a true differentiator in this test which lends strong credence to our claim of being the best quality scanning service out there. We can now add Money Magazine to Popular Photography, PC Photo,, and many, many blogs as independent and trusted sources to prove our quality and our service. Our technicians in India are highly trained and the lower labor rate allows us to spend much more time on each individual image – hence the enhanced quality that you just can’t seem to get in the U.S. at even remotely acceptable prices. Lastly, the results of this test are significant and credible because we had no idea that it had even occurred.

I was actually out of the office (shhh, I was on the 14th green at Spanish Bay, don’t tell anyone) when Laurent, our Chief Strategy Officer, Founder and resident snow boarding expert, called to tell me that the article had been published listing ScanCafe as the “four star” champion.

Again, as I said in my blog post about ScanCafe’s inclusion in O Magazine – I am mostly happy that scanning services, in general, are getting more attention. People are really starting to see the value of digitizing and protecting their most cherished photo moments. Furthermore, informed consumers are also much more open to using first-class services that scan images internationally. For example, it was nice to see that the second place finisher does their scanning internationally as well. I would also like to say that there are some other good companies that do quality work and have a high caliber of ethics that weren’t on the list and they are definitely a better choice than the companies that exhibited poor quality, high prices and dubious marketing & pricing tactics. Now, readers of Money Magazine and have several good choices for their digitization efforts. Thanks Money Magazine! Get your images converted, folks, regardless of how you do it – don’t let them waste away. Remember, one digital image on your computer is worth 100 paper ones in your closet.


ScanCafe Review in Popular Photography

‘Tis been a good start to the holiday season for ScanCafe.  John Owens, the Editor in Chief of “Popular Photography and Imaging” – a leading photography journal, just posted a positive ScanCafe review in the December edition of his magazine.  This is even more exciting than being in O Magazine (sorry, Oprah, you probably don’t hear that too often).

As he mentions in his article, I met with him for breakfast in Santa Monica this past summer.  As I sat and waxed rhapsodically about the beauty of ScanCafe (after all, one of my major responsibilities is to evangelize like a Preacher), a doubtful look crossed his face, quickly followed by the “C’mon, gimme a break!” quote found in his article (yeah, he actually said that, and such an honest reaction made an immediate fan out of me).  He told me that the “scanning problem” had been in the annual top 5 for the past 20 years and there had never been an answer that didn’t involve thousands of dollars and worse – thousands of hours of labor.  However, as I took the time to explain the revolutionary service married to the industry best pricing, he took the time to really listen to what I had to say.  He took the time to listen because he is an advocate and champion of his reader base and he takes his job seriously (another reason I liked him).  I convinced him that ScanCafe had the opportunity to solve this heretofore insurmountable challenge.  And after he tried the service anonymously, I think he convinced himself that ScanCafe is truly a boon to the time & cash strapped professional photographer and enthusiast. 

Just a follow up to some things John mentions in his review: we do now offer pro-caliber work, just check out our Pro Options page.  We have also added an integrated “status update” bar from which you can track the progress of your order more effectively then before.  And last – I did take umbrage when he called me “dead serious”.  I am really not that bad, I mean, look at these photos.

idiots.jpg   asleep-at-the-wheel.JPG

ScanCafe in Oprah Magazine

I have to say, my mother in law, a devout disciple in the land of Oprah, was quite excited to find ScanCafe in the December holiday issue of Oprah’s magazine “O”. Obviously, getting a mention in such a wide spread publication was exciting for all of us (ahem, page 124 – you can pick one up at any drug or bookstore) and has been a nice little bump in sales. But I am more excited that more people are just hearing about ScanCafe. One of our major priorities is to evangelize the analog to digital conversion, regardless of how it happens. So, the best part about being in Oprah isn’t that it helps my business, but rather that it makes people stop and say to themselves “hmm, I didn’t know a service like that existed.” So we welcome with open arms a new legion of folks who want to unlock their legacy imagery and throw new light on their memories. If you come to us to help in that worthy endeavor – then great! But if not, I still urge you to convert your images – such precious memories don’t belong in your closet. I can’t wait to hear what my Marine buddies have to say about my being in Oprah magazine – bring it on!
Oprah Cover


It is with great pride that I wish all my fellow Marines, past and present, a joyful and wonderful Birthday!  Our beloved Corps is a young and healthy 232 years of age.  232 years of leading the charge and insuring our freedom.  Below I present the Commandant’s Birthday Message as well as that of General LeJeune’s perennial favorite from 1921.  God speed to you hard-chargers still on the front line and I hope that you get to come home very soon.  To my compadres from 7th Marines, 11th Marines and the entire 1st Marine Division – keep your boots laced and your powder dry, DevilDogs!  Semper Fidelis, Sam Allen.

Commandant’s Birthday Message 

Since the birth of our Nation, our liberty has been purchased by valiant men and women of deep conviction, great courage, and bold action; the cost has often been in blood and tremendous sacrifice. As America’s sentinels of freedom, United States Marines are counted among the finest legions in the chronicles of war. Since 1775, Marines have marched boldly to the sounds of the guns and have fought fiercely and honorably to defeat the scourge of tyranny and terror. We are Marines — that is what we do.

In the words of President John F. Kennedy: “In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger.” Magnificent heroes fought in the wheat fields of Belleau Wood, in the snows of the Chosin, and on the streets of Hue City. Your generation bears this obligation now, and it is borne on mighty and capable shoulders. Just like the Marines at Belleau Wood — we are once again engaged in sustained operations ashore. Just like at Belleau Wood — the Marines have been given the toughest sector and have prevailed over a resilient and determined enemy — who has made us pay for our gains. Once again, as in any struggle, the road ahead is far from certain, but as Marines, we are not dissuaded by the challenges of war or the tough conditions of a warrior’s life. Indeed, we don’t just accept our destiny — we shape it.

On our 232nd birthday, to every Marine — those still in uniform and those who have served honorably in the past — be proud of who you are and what you do. Know that your citizenship dues have been paid in full; you are part of this Nation’s elite warrior class. Cherish our families who offer marvelous support, abiding resolve, and steadfast patience. Remember those who have served and those who have fallen — their names are chiseled on the roll call of America’s heroes. Those who have carried the battle colors of our Corps have forged our heritage, and today’s generation of leathernecks chart our future. Carry the colors with pride; carry them with honor.

Happy birthday, Marines!

James T. Conway

General, U.S. Marine Corps

General LeJeune’s Birthday Message – 1921

On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of the Continental Congress. Since that date, many thousand men have borne the name Marine. In memory of them, it is fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the Birthday of our Corps by calling to mind the glories of its long and illustrious history.

The record of our Corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous military organizations in the world’s history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence, the Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war and in the long era of tranquility at home. Generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every corner of the seven seas [so] that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our Corps, Marines have acquitted themselves with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term “Marine” has come to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received from those who preceded us in the Corps. With it we also received from them the eternal spirit which has animated our Corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish, Marines will be found equal to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as “Soldiers of the Sea” since the founding of the Corps.

I’m a proud new papa!

I am a proud new father (if you swing by our offices in Burlingame, I will give you a cigar).  We just launched a completely new website and I couldn’t be more proud of the results.  Not only is the new website faster and more professional, but it is a testament to the valuable input we have received from you, our loyal customers.  It is a website that is rich in feature content – the type of content you deserve.  We also strived with this site to do more than just use it as a vehicle to pitch our service.  We have actually dedicated pages to instruct folks how to pick their own scanners, how to clean your slides or negatives, what to look for in a scanning service, and even how to scan their images themselves.  A friend of mine asked me “why would you empower your customers to scan their own images – that is suicide.”  I told him that I held quite the opposite opinion.  We think that it is critical for everyone to bring their imagery into the 21st century.  We also know that people are extremely busy and few folks have the time or energy to scan their entire archive themselves.  Also, there are folks out there that just need to scan a few images – why make them pay for a service when I can just teach them how to do it themselves?  I don’t have minimum order sizes like everyone else in this industry so if I can empower a person to scan a few images on their own, so much the better.  Besides, I know how monotonous scanning images can be – if people have large archives, they aren’t going to scan them all themselves, no matter how much data I give them.  I keep telling our team here that we want to be a scanning partner, not simply a scanning service – and partnerships are built on trust. 

You will also find a dedicated “ProZone” for our professional photographers and hobbyists.  We have a great deal of info on both our processing center as well as our world class India Graphics and Imaging Center.  This rich content was born of customer requests and we are quite happy that we were able to provide the level content required to allow people to make smart decisions about why they should scan, and why they should scan with ScanCafe.  Lastly, as this is a new site, you might find minor errors here and there – we consider ourselves perfectionists but I am sure that in all those pages we missed some items here and there so please be patient with us as we correct these minor flaws.  Also, the entire site looks great in Firefox but for some reason has some layout issues in IE and in older versions of Safari.

I hope you enjoy the new site as much as I am – and please continue to give us valuable feedback; you can send comments / questions to  Oh yeah, I am also the proud father of a second son, Jake Patrick, born in May.  I better put that in there or the wife will not be happy.