Why Pinterest Has NOT Reimagined Scrapbooking

There's been a lot of talk in the tech community that Pinterest has changed the popular art of scrapbooking. Internet analyst Mary Meeker even suggested that Pinterest had reimagined scrapbooking. But after looking at how two scrapbooking gurus are using Pinterest, our conclusion is that the lucrative scrapbook market is still ripe for reinvention in the mobile and social era.

Scrapbooking is a popular hobby in the United States and has a long history. Wikipedia defines it as "a method for preserving personal and family history in the form of a scrapbook." Scrapbooks typically include photos, journal entries, clippings from newspapers and magazines, and artwork. As Mary Meeker noted in her presentation, the tools of scrapbooking have traditionally been paper, scissors and glue.

Over the past year Pinterest has had an impact on the scrapbooking community, but not as much as we've been led to believe. In this post we profile a couple of leading "scrappers" (as I discovered they are known as), to see how they use Pinterest.

The Family Scrapbooker: My Sister-in-Law

It turns out I have an avid scrapbooker in my family, in the form of my sister-in-law. She told me that lots of "the American scrappers" are on Pinterest and a lot people follow them there. Many of the bigger names in scrapbooking have blogs, along with Facebook and Twitter profiles. She said this allows fans to follow popular scrappers on social media, "rather than waiting a year or two for them to bring out a new book."

According to my scrapbooking sister-in-law, many scrappers use Pinterest to keep track of art works, color schemes, home decor, ideas and other people's layouts (scrapbook pages).

Now let's look at a couple of prominent scrapbookers and how they use Pinterest.

The Traditional Scrapbooker: Stacy Julian

Stacy Julian is a guru in the scrapbooking world. A mother of five from Spokane, Washington, Julian has written four books on scrapbooking, the first in 2000. She was the founding editor of Simple Scrapbooks magazine, which ran from 2002-2009.

Julian went on to found Big Picture Classes, an online education site for creative women. The company encourages its students "to use materials they have on hand or materials that can be acquired in their local economy." So scrapbooking is viewed as a physical craft by Stacy Julian and her education website.

Stacy Julian has over 7,000 followers on Pinterest. She's pinned 640 images, across 26 boards. She uses Pinterest mainly for inspiration, with her most popular board 'Happy Colors' being a place to "visit when I'm tired and need to find my mojo." Color is an important part of her scrapbooking philosophy, but the emphasis is still on deploying colorful materials on paper - rather than online. So Pinterest is a complementary activity for Stacy Julian, it hasn't replaced scrapbooking for her.

The Digital Scrapbooker: Ali Edwards

Ali Edwards has also written four books about scrapbooking (the first in 2004) and currently designs "digital scrapbooking products" for Designer Digitals. She has a foot in both camps of scrapbooking, paper and digital. She advises new scrapbookers that the best way to begin is to start writing and photographing, then "[bring] them together on your computer or with paper and glue."

So-called digital scrapbooking is relatively new. The key tools are scanners, image editors like Adobe Photoshop, and specialist tools like the Silhouette (an electronic cutting tool that connects to your computer). Edwards designs templates and kits, containing things like PNG files and .STUDIO files for use with the Silhouette.

Even though Stacy Julian is the more established scrapbooker, Edwards has more followers on Pinterest: 16,500 compared to 7,000 for Julian. That's really the only statistical difference between the two on Pinterest, however, because Edwards has pinned 652 images (Julian has 640), across 29 boards (Julian has 26).

Edwards' most pinned board is one called Memory Keeping. Many of these pins are about layout inspiration and ideas.

Scrapbooking Reimagined? Nope

Despite the different scrapbooking approaches of the two gurus, neither Stacy Julian or Ali Edwards use Pinterest as a replacement for scrapbooking. Both use Pinterest primarily for inspiration and to catalog ideas. At best, Pinterest gives scrappers a community to share ideas and inspirations. But it isn't reimagining scrapbooking.

However, there does seem to be a big opportunity in the market for a more social and mobile form of scrapbooking. Although Ali Edwards and others are beginning to push digital forms of scrapbooking, this is currently more about digital manipulation of images than a true Web native form of scrapbooking.

Perhaps I'm being presumptuous suggesting that scrapbooking can be even more digital, so I'd love to hear the thoughts of scrappers in the comments.

Image credit: gluestickgirl