What Happened To Scrapbooking?

This article was updated in June 2021.

While we were watching Friends, returning rentals to Blockbuster and listening to Match Box Twenty, many of us were also getting caught up in the hype of scrapbooking.

Looking back now, the early to mid 2000s were sort of a “golden age” for scrapbooking.

You could find a scrapbooking store in every town; there were aisles dedicated to the hobby at most big box stores, and hotels were fully booked with groups of eager scrappers having a blast with kindred spirits at scrapbooking retreats.

But now, in 2020, that’s all a distant memory; scrapbooking today is now something totally different from what it once was.

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What Happened To Scrapbooking?

The scrapbooking industry was at its peak in 2004 at 2.5 billion dollars. It quickly dropped in popularity over the next few years. For example, the value of the industry had dropped to 1.5 billion in 2013.

A quick search in Google Trends shows the decline in searches for the terms “scrapbooking”, “scrapbooks” and “paper crafts” in the United States from 2004 to 2021. You can view the graph 👉 Here

This happened for several reasons…

One of the biggest was money. Unfortunately, around 2008 the economy in the United States and Canada wasn’t so great. This was a tough time, and many people were struggling. Scrapbooking and other hobbies were some of the first expenses to be cut from people’s budgets.

This (and a few other reasons) caused a wave of local scrapbooking stores to close their doors, which was a huge factor in the decline of scrapbooking in so many communities. As these stores closed up shop, many scrappers bought up as much as possible from these closing stores—resulting in many people having more supplies than they could ever use in a lifetime.

Without the local stores, there was hardly anyone left planning workshops and retreats. In turn, many scrappers decided this was a good time for them to give digital scrapbooking a try.

Together these (and a couple more) factors resulted in the decline of an industry that so many people loved. But the biggest hit to scrapbooking would come in the aftermath of this all.

It was a flourishing community that women (and some men) depended on for a creative and social outlet. Unfortunately, many went away from scrapbooking after feeling the loss of the community and camaraderie that they loved so dearly.

Death Of The Local Scrapbooking Store

Local scrapbooking stores are much harder to find nowadays, compared to even ten years ago.

Why is that? Well, in my opinion, there is a couple of reasons the stores had to close. Besides the economic recession that affected so many, the stores were struggling because:

1) It wasn’t easy to compete with big-box stores like Wal-Mart, Michaels, Joannes, and Hobby Lobby for one. These stores can easily sell the same products for less simply because of their discounts when ordering the huge quantities they need to fill their stores. And how can a small local business compete with forty percent off coupons?

2) High overhead costs, staffing costs, and then selling products at a low price point. You had to sell a lot of cardstock to pay the rent.

3) Needing lot’s of inventory, then having to keep up with the latest and hottest releases.

I owned a local scrapbooking store, and I loved it. It was so fun to hang out with like-minded people and get to be creative every day.

But in all honesty, it was a money pit.

Even at its peak, it wasn’t sustainable. It was hard to keep bringing in the latest products while clearing old stock and managing the high overhead costs.

Alas, we were only one of many that had to close their doors.

Don’t get me wrong. I loved having a store, but in a small town, it just wasn’t feasible. And I happily look back at this period of my life with great fondness.

A store lined street in a small town.

Loss of a Community

I genuinely believe that what drew so many people into scrapbooking was the community it brought into their lives.

Many women (and men) found new friendships, creative inspiration and an outlet away from their home, work, other stress and responsibilities.

The closure of local scrapbooking stores was a big loss for the scrapbooking community. It was now more difficult for scrappers to gather together. In many cases, without these stores planning and executing workshops, crops, and weekend retreats, many scrapbooking communities and groups disappeared.

Without the opportunity to gather, many people quit working on their scrapbooks. That is what kept them motivated — learning new techniques and having fun with their scrapbooking friends.

Scrapbookers Regret

Have you ever had a moment of scrapbooker buyers regret?

The allure of the latest and hottest can be too much for many scrapbookers (I am so guilty of this!)

With new products being released way too often and for a limited time, the urge to get the latest and greatest was hard to pass up. Not to mention the hype that came with the latest tools, organizers, gadgets and Cricut cartridges.

Then when a local scrapbook store closed its doors, many scrappers lined up to buy any inventory they had left for a steep discount. While it felt so good to get a deal, this left many people with buyers’ regret.

Stocked up with supplies, many people realized that they would never be able to use it all.

For these two reasons, many people were left with regret and an excessive scrapbooking stash.

Leaving many making promises to themselves (and their partners) that they wouldn’t buy anything new until they used up what they had.

Who Are You Creating For?

Many scrapbookers got a bit of a rude awakening when their grown children told them that they didn’t want twenty 12×12 scrapbooks.

via GIPHY

Huh? What?

What are they supposed to do with them? Where would they keep them?

In an ever-increasing trend, many are turning towards a clutter-free and minimalist home esthetic.

They don’t want to store stuff, and they don’t want clutter. The future is their focus.

When scrapbookers got this feedback from their family members, it was devastating to them. Causing many to decide to quit the hobby all together. They felt like their hard work wasn’t appreciated. Or maybe the intention behind creating the albums wasn’t understood by their kids and family members.

Whatever the case, this was a disappointment many could not reconcile with.

Want to find out more on why Scrapbooking and being creative are so good for you? –> Click here for Five Reasons Why You Should Start Scrapbooking

The Digital Age

In the early 2000s, digital scrapbooking started to gain popularity.

Many saw this as a great way memory keep, with the added bonus of …

  • No longer having to buy traditional scrapbooking supplies,
  • Less costs,
  • You still get to be creative but without having to store supplies or needing a dedicated space.

It was a big draw for many people.

And we cannot forget what happened in 2004. During a time when the popularity of scrapbooking was at an all-time high, the website that would soon become part of everyone’s lives came into being.

Yup, Facebook. 

In only a few short years, Facebook was a household name. It became so easy to share pictures online with friends and family that some put scrapbooking to the wayside in favour of social media. The online, digital sharing world appealed to many—particularly those on the fence about scrapbooking.

Now we know what a great thing Facebook has been for us who have stuck with scrapbooking and paper crafting. We now have so much inspiration right at our fingertips, not to mention the amazing online community.

And don’t get me started on the amazing YouTube creators. Or the fact the I can learn from pros like Vicki Boutin or Paige Evans from the comfort of my craft room. Everyone who decided to keep on scrapbooking needed to adapt to a changing industry resulting in the internet and digital world revolutionizing and reinventing scrapbooking in a whole new way.

Photographs

How many of you print off your pictures? Not many, I would guess. I know that I’m not the best at it.

Digital cameras and cell phones have revolutionized photography. We can take as many pictures as we want, whenever we want, and we don’t even have to wait to get the film processed.

But one downside of this is the sheer quantity of photographs we now have. It’s overwhelming! (Here’s an interesting article all about it).

I have a huge stack of photos sitting on my desk and shake my head as I look through them. Why did I print off every single picture? Many of them are almost identical.

Remember when you had to wait to get the film develped to see your photos? We were so excited to see what gems were on that roll. We dropped them off for processing as soon as possible.

Now with digital, we see them right away so their no rush. We look, take another if necessary and turn off the camera.

Time goes by, and they stay there, on that memory card.

No pictures printed = no scrapbook pages.

Negative Stereotypes

For some reason (which I don’t fully understand or agree with), we scrapbookers have some ridiculous negative stereotypes associated with us.

Making some people feel embarrassed to share their interest in the hobby with their friends and family because of it.

  • Scrapbooking is for old people.
  • It’s a waste of money.
  • It’s trivial and cheesy
  • and for women who don’t have anything better to do.

The list goes on.

I’m sure you could think of one.

Those who don’t understand the community aspect of scrapbooking or the creative outlet it offers just don’t get it.

Like ok, Brenda, I don’t say to you “Oh, you’re still into that knitting thing.” So mind ya business.

I will always choose to scrapbook, not for anyone else, but myself.

It’s a creative outlet, a way to decompress. I feel proud of what I’ve created. If my kids treasure the albums I’ve made in the future, I will be thrilled. But, if not, that’s okay too. I’m doing it for me, not anyone else; in the same way, someone’s opinion of scrapbooking and paper crafting shouldn’t matter.

Will Younger Generations Want To Scrapbook?

It was the late 90’s, and I was a teenager. That night around my mom’s dining room table, I fell in love with Scrapbooking. Yup, It was a Creative Memories party; my mom, grandma, and I all got into Scrapbooking that day.

I don’t know if “traditional” scrapbooking will be a big draw for the younger generations.

However, if they are crafty and artsy kids, they will likely find their way to scrapbooking one day and love it! In my opinion, it will likely come about in relation to another papercraft that is simpler, smaller and less expensive to start, such as keeping a bullet journal, traveller’s notebook or a planner.

Scrapbooking has done a fantastic job of changing with the times, and with scrapbooking becoming ever more present online which is exactly where it needs to be able to reach this new demographic.

Otherwise, it’s up to us to introduce younger kids to the world of scrapbooking.

Here is an interesting article that Abby Glassenberg wrote in 2016 called Reaching the Millenial Craft Customer. Although the article references crafts other than scrapbooking, I think the sentiment remains, and we could also apply this to up-and-coming Generation Z. Make sure to give the comments a read; they are enlightening.

Many people decide to start scrapbooking when they start a family. Which for two reasons is awesome: 1) they will have the most beautiful keepsakes full of your family history and memories as a result, and 2) It gives new mom’s a chance to have some well-deserved and crucial time to themselves or with other adults.

But still, many youths opt to keep all their photos and memories in the digital world or on social media. While many scrapbookers preserve their memories for themselves and their family, much of the culture for the younger generation is social media. Part of me can easily see how the lure of less “stuff” is so appealing.

Is Scrapbooking Dead?

So do people still scrapbook?

Yes, lots! Although the number of scrapbookers has declined significantly since the 2000s, many people still love to scrapbook and participate in all things paper crafting.

But the scrapbooking that we knew of ten and fifteen years ago is dead.

Many people did quit scrapbooking. Personally, I didn’t touch my stuff for a number of years after I had to close up shop. And most people can count on two hands (and maybe some toes) the people they know who “used” to scrapbook.

Today, local scrapbooking stores are harder to find, and big box stores that once dedicated aisles to the hobby are now on to the next big thing.

Of course, this totally depends on where you live in the world too. But from my tiny little corner of Earth, scrapbooking supplies are rarely found outside of specialty stores in a city. Even the selection at Michaels is quite sad.

And of course, we can order everything we need online, but isn’t there something special about being inside a scrapbook store full of great products you can see and touch?

I couldn’t imagine being a first-time or beginner scrapbooker and looking at an online catalogue full of products. Talk about overwhelm. Nothing can compare to a dedicated, passionate and knowledgeable local scrapbook store owner or staff member giving you the ins and outs and showing you exactly what you’ll need.

In addition to scrapbooking supplies being harder to find in-store, the scrapbooking retreats are almost non-existent unless you live in the city or are lucky enough to have a local scrapbooking store in your area. Or maybe a really awesome dedicated person who loves to plan!

But don’t worry, all is not lost; there is still a very active community out there waiting to take you in with open arms, especially online.

You’ll find hosts of virtual retreats, active forums and Facebook groups dedicated to sharing inspiration and completed projects. These groups are the new face of scrapbooking. You can so easily access classes, tutorials, and a community right from your own home. Once you’re in, you’ll have access to a world of information about scrapbooking and where to find those retreats and the community you’ve been desperately missing.

What Will Scrapbooking Look Like In The Future?

I do believe that scrapbooking is here to stay!

There are enough people who love the hobby and a few new ones who start to keep it alive.

Thrive? That I’m not sure of. I don’t know what the future will hold. And I think everyone’s definition of a thriving industry or community can vary so much. So that’s a question I’ll leave up to the experts to answer.

Is the number of new scrapbookers enough to keep the industry going strong?

Will younger generations have any interest in physical books, or will they only want to see their memories via social media?

I suppose only time will tell. 

For now, I’ll keep scrapbooking and creating albums of our life and adventures. And I hope many others do as well.

Scrapbooking is only another form of art. It is a tool to record your life, express yourself and show the world who you are.

I’m extremely grateful that scrapbooking found me. It has given me some extraordinary lessons, memorable moments and life-long friends.

P.S. 👉 It’s now June 2021; over a year has gone by since I wrote this article, and I have to say I am so thrilled by how so many people have pulled together to keep scrapbooking and paper crafting going strong during the pandemic. Also, I was so thrilled to take part in several online crops, workshops and classes during this difficult time.

P.P.S 👉Please understand that this is only my opinion that has been built from my own experiences and research. I’m sure not everyone will have the same experience or opinion. Thank you for reading!

Save It For Later

photographs sitting on an album

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