I haven't been terribly busy, but I have been trying to limit my time on the internet, so I've done very little blogging this week. I have two great books to read that I've been greatly enjoying, and I had a wonderful weekend full of spiritual renewal and learning, but I'm still working on my post about that, so it will have to be anachronistic.
I've gotten a ton of scrapbooking (the digital kind) done and completed 4 different books. I've been exploring different publishing sites and programs and it has been fun. Here are some thoughts about the process of creating the books. I'll comment on the books when they come in. It is important to note that this is about mostly automated photobooks. Some would not even call it scrapbooking because I let the site or the software do a lot of the work. There is a whole other world of digital scrapbooking out there that involves creating pages completely from scratch in a program like Photoshop. Heritage Makers kind of bridges the gap, because they gather everything into one place and you have the option of doing it completely from scratch or simplifying with a more automated system.
Apple: Easiest by far for me since I already have iPhoto installed and the book creation process is literally a few clicks. No uploading of photos or downloading of software. I've never seen an Apple book, but they look good in the pictures. A nice perk is that Apple's integrated iLife software will make the album into a slideshow, let me set it to music and make a DVD out of it, complete with menus, theme music, etc. I think it will be very fun to send an album and a slideshow dvd as a gift. Also, the book gets saved as a folder in iPhoto and I can order another one anytime. Mac at its best.
Shutterfly: My first and most familiar digital scrapbooking experience. They've gotten tons better in the last few years and have lots of nice options now. I didn't use them this week, but I have a collection of their books to compare with the ones that are coming. One major thing I like about Shutterfly is that their photo hosting is unlimited and lasts forever. No emails warning you that your photos are about to expire. The books stay forever, too, so you can reorder them. They also have plugins that make uploading to their site very easy.
Picaboo: I was very excited to try this company after seeing some of Corinne's beautiful photo books, but sadly, they do not have the force with them and do not make their free software available for Macs. I am interested enough that I may transfer some pictures to our pc and try it out anyway. It looks cool.
mypublisher: This software is slick, free and available for Macs (and pc's) and is very easy to use. It has very positive buzz in the computer magazine and review world. Once the software is downloaded, it hooks up with iPhoto to allow my photos to be added to the book very easily. I imagine it would do something similar on a pc-find all your photos for you. The books look beautiful and are comparable in price to the apple and picaboo books. One nice thing is they have volume discounts, and they save my books for me online. I can also share books with friends.
Heritage Makers: I'm getting better at using this, but I have some of the same struggles with it as I do paper and print scrapbooking. I just get so involved in the details (HM has digital papers, embellishments, unlimited layouts, themes, etc.) that it takes me as long to do a page as it takes me to do a whole book in the more streamlined systems. The books are beautiful, but they are about twice as much (they compare their prices to what you would pay for all the papers and embellishments). I am interested to see the results of my comparison shopping. Also, there is no software to download, but since you are working completely online, uploading photos can be time-consuming, but once they're there, storage is unlimited.
So, try your hand at digital scrapbooking if you haven't already. It can be as easy as letting the software autoflow your photos into the template, then clicking the "order" button or as detailed as making a traditional scrapbook. For me, the payoff is when I see my family all piled around a book reliving the memories. For that, a scrapbook doesn't have to be fancy, it just has to be done.