Mixbook (Photo Gallery) launched a couple of weeks ago with a new take on Web 2.0 and monetization: actually giving users a product. Mixbook is a rich internet application that lets you create a digital photoalbum using a series of templates and photos that you upload to the site. Once you've finished creating the book, you can publish and buy a hard copy of the album. I think it's a nice bridge between the world of Web 2.0 and something more tangible.
The application was built using Flex 2 and gives the user a lot of flexibility. While you can't create your own custom layout, Mixbook has a large number of layouts to choose from that incorporate different sizes and orientations of pictures, so you should be in good shape. There are also a number of themes to choose from including backgrounds and frames. While in the editor you have some limited control over the photos and you can zoom in to crop them and focus on something in the photo. The only downside I saw was that you can't add photos directly from sites like Flickr. You also don't yet have the ability to add your own backgrounds but I can imagine that will be coming soon.
Mixbook also has some collaboration features which come in handy for creating a meaningful photo album from a trip with friends or other groups. I used it on the album of my wife and I backpacking. I was able to invite her to Mixbook and she could make edits to the photo placements or captions. It adds a sense of community to the album and for Mixbook gets more people involved (and hopefully buying) the created book.
Registration is free but they recently released a "Try it" function so you can check out the editor without joining the site. I really like their approach and based on the number of public books that have been created, it seems to be working well. Hopefully once word spreads the site will see even more traction. See more photos in the Gallery.