A Basic Course in Scrapbooking Albums 101

The scrapbooking album is an ubiquitous item in every scrapbooker’s home. In recent years, it seems that these albums can be found not only inside the scrapper’s workspace, but have invaded her home’s nooks and crannies as well. But when I take a look back at how the scrapbooking industry was doing several years ago, I realize that the wide selection of albums and materials we are enjoying now were non-existent back then. There was even a time when a scrapbooking album consisted of nothing but a collection of pages wrapped in brown paper and tied together with string. Scrapbookers in those days had it simple, not really by choice, but primarily because there weren’t many options available to them.

When I compare the availability of supplies in those “ancient” days to what we now have on the shelves and drawers of our favorite crafts and hobbies shops, it brings to me another level of understanding as to why a lot of beginners get frustrated and intimidated. The number of options that are now available to scrapbookers can simply be overwhelming at times, and it seems to me now that you need to take a course in “Scrapbooking Albums 101″ just to understand the whole thing.

However, the whole process of picking out and buying a scrapbooking album can be made pretty simple. All you really need to know is what the available options are. Then you can choose the right album depending on what you need it for. So if you are planning to go out and buy a new scrapbooking album, these are the factors you need to consider:

Availability – Is this readily available in all the shops I usually buy my stuff from? More importantly, will finding replacements and accessories that fit this album be an easy task? You may need to buy page protectors and other replacements that match that exact album style, so knowing this beforehand can save you a lot of grief later on.

Form vs. Function – Yes, this album may look impossibly beautiful, but does it really fit what I need for my project? Is this a trending style, and will I still think of it as beautiful several years down the road? A fancy style may look horrible to your eyes five years from now. Additionally, you also need to consider how that album will look like when you place it in your bookcase, for example, how easy it is to add or remove pages, and whether or not you can fit bulkier pages in it.

Price – Ask yourself if this album is affordable and a good deal overall. You may be able to afford it now, but what if you need to buy more albums like that later on? The costs of replacement items, like page protectors, posts, etc. will also have to be taken into account, not only at the exact momuent you’re buying it, but also for future purchases.

Aside from these important factors, there are a few more variables you need to think about when shopping for a scrapbooking album. You also need to consider album sizes, the types of albums available, and how much your purchase will cost you.

From my experience, there are two standard sizes for scrapbooking albums: the 8.5″ x 11″ size and the 12″ x 12″ size. These can cost anywhere from $15 to over a hundred dollars each. You may also want to consider the number of layouts that a standard-sized album can hold. In this case, both albums are able to hold 60 to 70 layouts on average, but if you’re fond of using bulky embellishments on your pages, you may need to cut that number down by half. Like I mentioned above, you should also factor in the costs of accessories. For example, an album that holds around 60 layouts means that you will also need to buy 30 page protectors.

Generally, it is very easy to find accessories and replacements for albums that are sized 8.5″ x 11″. Cardstock, page protectors, and the albums themselves are affordable and won’t burn a hole in your pocket when you’re in the crafts shop. A single layout for a 8.5″ x 11″ album can hold around 2 to 3 photos (uncropped), while heirloom photos (which are usually smaller than modern photographs) can fit perfectly. The albums hold around 60 layouts total. Scrapbooking albums of this size can easily fit into bookcases, and are easily handled even by young people.

For 12″ x 12″ albums, it is not difficult to find supplies and accessories, unlike several years before. However, you can expect to spend a little more money on purchases. You can fit around 3 to 5 photographs on a single layout of this size, although the album still holds 60 layouts like its smaller-sized brother. It can be a bit unmanageable and heavy to carry, though, if that 12″ x 12″ album is already full to the brim with pages, photos, and embellishments. It is also quite difficult to photocopy an entire page if you need them for duplicates, and you may have a hard time fitting them properly into bookcases because of their size.

Now that you’re familiar with album sizes and their features, let’s talk about the different types of albums that are available for scrapbookers. You may have read or heard about strap, post-bound or ring-bound albums from your friends and didn’t know what they were talking about, so read on and be educated.

First of all, the common material used for covering these types of albums are either leatherette, leather, vinyl, or fabrics like sailcloth, linen, or tapestry. Some albums may have laminated cardboards for covers instead. As you can expect, the materials used will also influence the prices of these albums, so a leather-covered album might be more expensive than a linen-covered one.

Aside from the covers, here are a few more things you need to know about the types of albums available to you:

Post-bound albums have 2 or 3 metal posts that are used to hold the pages together (along with the page protectors) in between the front and back covers. There are screw heads on both ends of a post, one of which is movable.

A ring-bound album — sometimes also called a ring binder — usually has three rings that are attached to the spine of the album and clamp down to hold the pages and page protectors together. It’s very similar to a common three-ring binder, but with more attractive covers.

Strap albums have two or three nylon straps to hold the pages together between the covers. The straps are designed to run through the staples on the page edges. They are also known as hinge albums.

You may also find spiral-bound albums and stapled albums in the crafts shop. A spiral-bound album is very similar to a spiral-bound notebook in that it also has a coil or “spring” which fastens the pages in between the covers. The coil can be made of metal or nylon. A stapled-spine album, on the other hand, has staples attached to the spine in a centerfold style to fasten the pages to the album. Sometimes you can find albums of this type which the staples attached to the edges instead of the center.

So there you go. You have successfully passed your course in Scrapbook Albums 101. Now all you have to do is to apply what you’ve learned and develop your new-found knowledge some more. Who knows? With the combined power of information and practical application, you may yet earn the title of “Scrapbooking Guru”.

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