High school yearbooks go online

Teen-launched Yearbook.com offers free alternative to those books grads just put on their shelves.

The Internet seems like a natural place for the revered high school yearbook to evolve, but skeptics wonder if a new website called reports the Associated Press.

"We just think yearbooks are obsolete," said Catherine Cook, 16, one of the creators of the site. "If you think about it, all you're going to do with it is put it on the shelf and never really look at it."

Students who log on to the free site before graduation have access to multimedia and interactive components that old-fashioned yearbooks can't offer, including a place for creating polls and storing music and videos. But they can also vote for the best athlete and most likely to succeed students at the school too. After graduation, portions of the school sections are preserved, unchanged, with the same friends, classmates, and clubs. Members can "autograph" each others' yearbook pages, connect through school club and sports pages, and upload photos and post messages.

Catherine Cook and her brother, 18-year-old David Cook, founded the site in 2005 and built it up to about 950,000 members in about a year. They developed the idea after becoming frustrated with the cost and layout of their own yearbooks. Teenagers want different things out of their yearbook than their parents did, and thrive on the up-to-the-moment aspects of the Web site, said Geoff Cook, 28.

Traditional yearbook publishers are responding to the the digital age, too. Jostens, one of the largest yearbook publishers, is offering a supplemental DVD offering student-compiled music, photos and video.

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