Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Scrapbooks vs. Photobooks: The Smackdown

I’ve made quite a few scrapbooks and photobooks. I find the process for creating both enjoyable. Both have pros and cons that I would like to discuss.
1. Reasonably-priced: Traditional scrapbooks can be a hefty investment. You have to pay for the album, picture printing, page protectors (if the album is larger than the 20 pages included with the album), scrapbook paper, adhesive, and embellishments. When you make a photobook, the cost is significantly reduced. I recently made a 12 x12 photobook of a vacation we took. I did have a coupon, so it was $36.00 total for the book. I could not have printed the photos in the varying sizes used in the book or the album for that price. Both Snapfish and Shutterfly seem to have frequent sales on photobooks.
2. Efficient to make: It took me a few hours to create my vacation book with 28 pages. My text was already written as I just copied posts from my blog. A similar traditional scrapbook would have taken me at least a month to make, if not longer.
3. Less bulky: Traditional scrapbooks are just plain bulky and heavy. It is difficult haul around the big books. Photobooks are sleek and compact. Yet you still get a high quality product.
4. Easy to make copies: I love that you can print several copies of one book. That is efficient. I recently made a photobook compiling some family heritage photos I had digital copies of. It was so easy to share the digital version of the book with my family and they could order copies easily. I have made books in the past for my parents and in-laws for Christmas presents. It really saves a lot of time. Eventually I want to scan my traditional scrapbooks and print them as photobooks for my children.
Good for people who don’t scrapbook but want to compile their pictures in a meaningful way: If you aren’t super crafty or have a hard time creating pages, I think photobooks are a really excellent option. The designs are nice, simple and easy to use.
Limited designs: I have frequently felt frustrated by the templates or the inability to manipulate the page I want. When you choose a pattern, that is what you get for the entire book. While I appreciate a cohesive design, I want more variety within that design. Photo sites could really benefit from some good paper designers.
Text: I’ve used both Snapfish and Shutterfly and I find both text features slow, laborious, and difficult to use. In fact, entering the text in the books takes the most time for me, even when I’ve already got it written. I find the spellcheck feature to be faulty, highlighting words that aren’t misspelled. When you are editing, you can’t see the entire body of the text so you can’t really check for grammar mistakes or problems in the text. If your text doesn’t fit in the space provided, its hard to see how to cut the text down. The text feature has often shut my computer down.
Project versus page focus: While I love being able to complete an entire project in a few hours, I also really enjoy the process of creating individual pages. I miss that joy when I create an entire book.
Lack of embellishments: While you can put your own extra embellishments in the book after it is printed, I never do this, but sometimes I would like a digital feature added.
I feel hampered in my creativity by the templates and designs because I’ve scrapbooked so much.
Pros: I guess I’ve already covered some of these in my discussion about photobooks.
Variety of design and theme: I’m only hampered by imagination in what I create. There are endless designs available from the internet and stores. I have a large stash and feel like I have a multitude of designs at my disposal.
Ability to manipulate to my liking: I’m in control of the creative process, not a computer template or program.
Creative process: I love taking the time to slow down and create something meaningful. As I work with pictures about my experiences and family, I process those experiences, adding meaning and richness to my life. Much of my life involves endless mundane tasks. It is rejuvenating to sit down and make a page that will never be undone or tracked with mud or splashed with juice.
Fun to shop for: I love paper and pens. I love being able to shop for pretty things that I can use to create. I’m not a shopper, but I do enjoy shopping for scrapbook supplies and books.
Scrapbooking is a serious hobby for people who want to create meaningful books about their lives and experiences. If you enjoy the creative process, beautiful papers, pens and embellishments, then traditional scrapbooking is for you.
Cost: While I shop sales and stretch my supplies, it is an expensive hobby. Printing photos costs money, whether you print at home where you pay for ink and paper or buy it online where you pay for shipping costs as well as printing costs. I tend to print 4 x6 photos online because the larger sizes costs more. I have a small photo printer where I can print up to four photos on one 4 x6 sheet.
Bulky books: I don’t do 3D embellishments and tend to avoid metal embellishments as well, but my books are still heavy and large. They take up a lot of space and are hard for my kids to look at because of the size. I worry that I would lose my precious books in a fire.
Time: It takes a lot of time to create my scrapbooks. I don’t begrudge that time, but I know that many people simply don’t have the same amount of time at their disposal.
While the cons of traditional scrapbooking are prohibitive, I think it is important to point out that many hobbies cost money. It’s just up to you and what you value.
I tend to make traditional scrapbooks because I enjoy the creative process. It makes me happy. But I am not above making photobooks to help me save time, money or energy. I think the bottom line is using what works best for your life and needs.

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