The (Speed) Evolution of Scrapbooking

scrapblogJust a few years ago scrapbooking was the hottest new business to hit the craft industry. Scrapbooking took over the Craft and Hobby Association shows and the growth was meteoric. Scrapbooking companies sold for prices that seemed outrageous by past industry standards. In the midst of the boom, however, retailers and vendors asked themselves how long scrappers could continue to buy paper, albums, stickers, tools, and embellishments. How much could actually fit under the bed? Well, while the market didn’t exactly crash, it has plateaued and a shakeout has begun among retailers which is expected to spread to vendors.

To many in the business, scrapbooking, by virtue of it’s visual and tactile appeal, seemed impervious to electronic attack. The whole point was sharing memories and photos in three-dimensional albums, right? Well, it turns out that whole point was sharing memories and photos. The mega-trends of time compression and digital ubiquity caight up to scrapbooking and digital competitors emerged. I think it’s going to far to suggest that these digital competitors alone caused the business to slow down, but they certainly helped.

Into this market comes the upcoming launch of the new version of Scrapblog. TechCrunch has a nice review of the new version and it sounds like quite a slick application. When it comes right down to it, Scrapblog is a way for users to share photos and videos and some text and some narration. Aren’t there a lot of sites that let you do that (Flickr, et al.)? Well, yes and no. While those other sites are about sharing, tagging, and otherwise getting your pictures out into the Web 2.0 world, Scrapblog is about all that and presentation too. Scrappers are all about presentation and photo sharing sites just aren’t that great at it. Beyond scrappers, TechCrunch suggests the site is powerful enough to make it useful for ” things like artist portfolios and online graphic presentations.”

The larger point here, however, is how quickly the scrapbooking market went from a physical, tactile business to a digital business. Of course, physical scrapping still provides the majority of revenue, but the digital growth is remarkable because it comes in a market built on physical objects. What else that today seems unassailable by digital products, really isn’t?

I’ll reiterate that the scrapbooking business is about sharing memories and photos and expressing feelings and emotions. If I think about what other physical businesses fit into that mold, greeting cards comes to mind. Instead of printing out that letter to enclose in my Christmas cards this year, why not create a big layout at Scrapblog and just send everyone the link? That way I can show everyone even more pictures of the kids and it all looks professionally finished. Who needs a card anyway? E-cards have languished for years (although some companies still make some decent revenue from them) but we’re not talking about e-cards here. This is more like sending a mini photo album that has been customized for the occasion.

Once again we are shown that the competitive sphere is always much larger than we think. I wonder if Flickr, Scrapblog, One True Media, American Greetings, and Hallmark all view each other as competitors?

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