Is scrapbooking dead or just transforming into digital storytelling?

Yesterday the folks at retweeted an interesting article that asked was scrapbooking dead. The article included a video that at first would make you think so . . . until it got to the part discussing the amazing alternative – photo books.

I don’t think scrapbooking is dead, but I do see it as one component in the broader category of digital storytelling. I love a beautifully embellished page, but I’m more interested in how it can support the story than in having the design be the story. Technology has given us so may different ways to present our family stories – current families as well as past ones – that there’s something for everyone at just about any skill level or any budget.

I love to use digital scrapbook elements in my family history projects. They add atmosphere to the project, help direct the reader’s eye to the areas I want them to see and spotlight specific photos. I would love to do more, but unfortunately there are two major issues in my way.

The first issue is their terms of use. I don’t think the designer community realizes there is a market looking for graphic elements to embellish family history publishing projects. We “personal publishers” spend a lot of time, effort and money writing and designing all kinds of family history projects and want to get the most exposure possible to attract research cousins – and yes, even make some money from our efforts. The terms of use on most digital scrapbooking products consider or projects as commercial use and either reject using their products for these purposes or charge significantly more for those rights. The digital storytellers in the genealogy community fit somewhere in the gray area between the traditional scrapbook market and commercial photography/scrapbook markets that have been the designers’ focus. We could become a significant market for their work if they would make some adjustments to better support us.

One other area where designers could better support digital storytellers is with more size flexibility. Digital storytellers are creating books, ebooks, multimedia presentations and movies. Our proportions are rectangular, not square. You design beautiful templates and backgrounds, but we often can’t use them. We’re displaying our work on computers and tablets and digital frames and even television screens and would love to fill up those screens with photos and text.

Square just is to . . . square.

One last thought that may help push you towards including us in your marketing efforts. Family historians are fixated on acknowledging their sources. You can be sure we’ll give you the credit you deserve.

2 thoughts on “Is scrapbooking dead or just transforming into digital storytelling?

  1. Digital certainly has its place alongside traditional scrapbooking. And creating with groups of friends at scrapbooking retreats will never die. I host scrapbooking retreats ( and have had digital scrappers bring their laptops and work alongside their friends who brought cardstock and embellishments. Just as fun!


    1. Denise Barrett Olson

      What great fun! I agree that the social side of scrapbooking is hard to recreate in a totally digital setting. Imagine the bandwidth you’d need to do a totally digital retreat . . .


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