About Me

My photo
A writer by predilection, an aunt by blessing and a friend by choice, Shelley has spent many years journaling before sitting down to draft her first novel. She has a B.A. in English discourse and is currently working on her third romantic-suspense, the title of which will be announced soon pending publication. Shelley is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her RWA state chapter of the Maryland Romance Writers.
"I love story-telling. It's a way to live an experience through the eyes of a character." - Shelley N. Greene

Saturday, April 1, 2017

A is for ALBUM @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

The A-Z Blog Challenge has begun! Thank you for checking out my blog.

My theme this year is SCRAPBOOKING and what better way to start than with A is for Album. So, let's jump right in...

An album is truly the beginning as it is the framework - the skeleton - for your entire scrapbook. That said, you would think that selecting an album would be easy; that you just pick a cover that's pretty, plunk down your hard-earned money, and call it day.

I wish it were that simple, but there’s a lot of options out there, which can get confusing. This blog post will help break down the pros and cons of what’s available, and narrow down the search to an album that’s right for you.

The biggest choice you have regarding scrapbook albums today is the option of either a standard paper or a digitally produced album.

 A standard is the traditional, two-to-three bracket-bound album. Standard albums contain plastic sleeves where you insert your created pages, and are available for sale in most craft stores.

Digitally produced albums are created online, using the photo software provided by the scrapbook website (or using purchased software for use on your computer), and are printed and mailed to you once you have completed the project.

The Similarities Between to Two Styles:

-         Both types of albums come in a variety of sizes. Traditional albums are usually 6x6, 8x11, 8x8, 8.5 x11, and most commonly 12x12. Digital album size varies and can be: 8x8, 8x11, 10x10, 12x12, and 11x14. 

-         Both album styles require the same number of photos, amount of time, and level of creative style.

 Where Albums Break-Even (Let's Do the Math):

-         Cost is difficult to determine with paper albums because it’s hard to tally up all the itemized parts involved with traditional scrapbooking. Paper, adhesives, embellishments all cost a bit, but you are using a small portion of that stock on a single traditional scrapbook page.

     Digital books start at a base price of approximately $54.99 for a 12x12 album containing 20 pages. Each additional page is approximately $1.50 extra, and if you have a big book (100 pages) that can add up. Coupons and discounts help, but usually the price point is equal for both styles.

Note: To ensure that I’m providing the most up-to-date feedback, I recently created an 8x8 digital scrapbook. It'd been a while since I’d last utilized digital software, but the overall process has remained the same.

With that data, let's do a quick run-down of pros and cons for each type of album.

Digital Scrapbook Album – Pros:

-         Compact - The spine of a 50-page digital book shown here still is barely ½ inch in width, which is less bulky and saves a lot of shelf space.

The yellow spine in the center is a digitally produced album.

-         Flexible – The pages of your book are digitally stored online, where if you start a page and later decide to completely re-arrange it, there is no rip-up and rebuild to worry about. Not having to deal with the demolition of a paper page after it's already been taped down is one of the big benefits of digital scrapbooking. 

Top is a digital album - bottom is traditional 12x12 paper page.

-         Less Storage – All you need with digital scrapbooks is a computer and a bunch of uploaded, high-resolution photos. No mess and no excessive storage of craft supplies is needed, because everything is online.

 -         Drop and Go Scrapbooking – Digital scrapbooking is ideal for busy people who just want to drop their photos into a pre-fabricated layout and be done with it. Many online sites offer a selection of themed books, where you can “Drop and Go.” The same websites also offer services that will custom create your books (like an interior decorator for your memories) at an additional cost.

Digital Scrapbook Album – Cons:

-         Limited Pages / Patterns – One of the biggest cons to digital is the limitation on page patterns and colors. I’ve seen a lot of online companies work to expand their selection, but at the end of the day, you're more likely to find a perfect pattern of 12x12 paper in a store than available online. Another issue is that digital page colors and patterns are hard to discern by staring at them on a computer screen, so you do run the risk of not knowing how well your digital page will look until it's printed and mailed to you.

-         Layout Software – The use of digital systems is exactly that – use of a computer program, which is bound to eventually give you some grief. If you are not comfortable with learning a photo editing program, use of the online software can get frustrating real fast.

o   Similar to Photoshop, you are navigating a program. It takes time to adapt, and glitches can occur as the website interacts with certain web browsers. I'm fairly tech savvy and I've still found the transition to the online scrapbooking programs a bit rough. I've also seen that certain editing commands don't display the same way in all web browsers. If you do go digital, it's recommended that you test the system with short, simple book to see how the software works before you commit to a complex album.

o   The website I use (Shutterfly.com) does offer freeform pages (what they call “Advanced Editing”) where you can delete, add, and adjust the layouts that they offer. This is a nice a feature, but again, it can be difficult to navigate if you don’t know where to go and what to do. Also, it requires a steady hand with the mouse when you are adjusting the sizes of the text boxes and photographs, which can be strenuous over time.

-         Photo Resolution – This is a biggie. The photos that you use digitally must be have a large enough negative to print clearly in the digital books. This tends to be a tripping point with larger albums (12x12). While many newer cell phones offer camera-like quality as far as resolution goes, if the photo is cropped, or saved incorrectly, a bulk of the digital negative can be lost. The result is a fuzzy or pixilated image that doesn't print well. The online software will warn you when this occurs (a little “Danger” sign that reads “Low Resolution”), however it’s still a pain in the butt when you have to search for, correct, and re-upload full spectrum photographs. It becomes time-consuming, and costly if not caught before the final print of your book, which can detract from the creative fun of scrapbooking.

-     Copy Editing - Similar to photo resolution, the digital scrapbooking software also can be a bit tricky with your text. There are areas to type quotes or to journal stories, but auto correct can get sketchy in places. This requires you to, like a formal author, carefully comb over your writing before the book "goes to press."

-         Tangibility – I giggle at this one because it’s a funny-but-true observation. One of the biggest disadvantages of digital is that throughout the creative process you never actually get to touch your work. It kind of takes away the obvious reason that one scrapbooks, which is to hold your memories. With digital, the pages are flat and glossy, which to some, can feel a bit sterile. There’s no mementos, no pockets, or flaps for handwritten journaling.

A funny Dell commercial comes to mind when I think of this:

I laugh when I see this commercial on TV. I image that when you pull out one of my traditional scrapbooks, it’s a special experience because, guess what?

I’ve HANDLED this book. It has my mojo all over it.

And you thought scrapbooking was boring.

Lol – so let’s continue and run the same list on traditional albums.

 Traditional Scrapbooks – Pros:

-         Cost and Design – Standard traditional scrapbooks are easy to find at your local craft store. With regular sales or weekly coupons, you can purchase a book for under $10.00. Most books come in a variety of cover designs, with 20 plastic sleeves and blank pages included, which is a good deal.

-         Hands-On – An echo of the digital con, traditional scrapbooks allow you to interact with every part of the page, which gives you unlimited control. You can layer paper, create designs with color, add pockets, and 3-D embellishments, which makes it unique and personal.

-         Keepsakes - The most important part of traditional scrapbooking is mementos.  Keepsakes such as playbills, postcards, letters, drawings, or tickets, can be tucked into the pages to be seen in the future.

Traditional Scrapbooks – Cons

-         Bulk – Unfortunately the dimension of your page also adds to the thickness of the book. Add in the width of the covers and the metal posts of the spine, and a traditional album can get pretty wide.

o   Many inexpensive books come with 2 binding posts standard. I recommend the books that have 3 posts as that gives more stability to your album.  If you stick to one 12x12 page per month (maximum of 20 pages in the album), then a 2 post spined book is likely to hold together well.

o   The 2 post books can be lengthened with extenders, but an excess of pages will cause the spine to gap, which can in turn cause wear and tear on the covers. If you’re like me, and have some eventful years that require extra pages, you want to try to invest in the 3-post albums, which offer more backbone to the spine of your book.

-         Weight – All of the cons are similar in that more paper means more mass. My traditional scrapbooks are a joy to flip through, but back-breaking to transport. I took four of my books to an outing once, and I was amazed at how heavy they were. So if you’re looking for compact and low-weight, you may want to opt for digital.

-         Supplies – Again, I think price-wise, both digital and traditional break even, but traditional does require a lot more in the area of tools and supplies. At minimum you need to purchase the photos, cut them, and adhere them. That means additional photo development costs, cropping tools, and glue. Add in all the pretty stickers, and designer paper, and you’re looking at daily trips to the craft store.

And there you have it - a guide to Albums. There’s lots of benefits and disadvantages to the different styles. Both types of albums can be used for different purposes, and they both give a beautiful result.

          When it comes to housing your memories, you choose the process and cost that works best for you.

I hope this helps, and I appreciate you checking out my first post in the 2017 A-Z Blog Challenge!
If you can, please check out the other participants’ posts – April will be chock full of fun topics to explore. A-Z Challenge bloggers will be making themselves known with the hashtag #AtoZChallenge and @AprilA2Z on Twitter, Facebook, Blogger and WordPress.

The sprint continues on Monday with B is for Buttons, Brads, and Borders.

 Hope to see you then!

-         SNG

1 comment:

  1. I have never done digital scrapbooking because i just feel it takes the fun out of it. I like putting things together and I just love...paper! It does get expensive so I always wait until scrapbooks are on sale and I have got some for $20!...I thought that was good. Welcome to the A to Z:)