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This post is part of Mashable’s Spark of Genius series, which highlights a unique feature of startups. If you would like to have your startup considered for inclusion, please see the details here. The series is made possible by Microsoft BizSpark.

Name: Group Story

Quick Pitch: Group Story lets users collaborate with others online to create multifaceted photo books.

Genius Idea: If you’ve ever tried to get a collection of photos from a big group of people, you know that it can be a bit of a hassle. Group Story is based on the observation that since no one lives their lives in isolation, a group can tell a tale much better than an individual can. For example, if there are 12 kids on a soccer team, each one should have a voice in telling about the team’s big win.

In Group Story, photos are uploaded from a user’s computer to a shared and secure workspace for the community. Each member of the community can upload and tag photos, and all images are viewable and usable by the whole group.

Then, users can build a photo album — a physical one — from the images they’ve uploaded. They can choose single- or multi-photo layouts, change the background color, and add titles and text.

For team sports, family reunions, small companies, parties and conferences, Group Story provides a great way for individuals to collaboratively share and publish memories. Here’s a brief overview and demo:

The downside is that there doesn’t seem to be an “online album” option for these images, and the app doesn’t yet integrate with Facebook or Flickr, two of the most popular repositories of event and group photos. It might also be convenient to have a native photo-editing option — perhaps a Picnik integration — for simple tasks such as cropping, adjusting exposure or correcting red-eye.

Also, creating physical books for these photo collections gets pricey. For example, printing and ground shipping for 30 books with 20 pages measuring 8×8 inches each comes to a whopping $456. At that rate, it would be more economical to buy a high-quality printer and a binding machine. Finally, typography options are limited to a small collection of web fonts such as Arial and Times New Roman — hardly what one might expect from a print product.

What’s your opinion of this app? Would you use Group Story to make a physical photo album for your group or event?

Sponsored by Microsoft BizSpark

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Tags: collaboration, group story, Photos, sharing, startup