And I was one of the lucky ones; plenty of avid scrapbooking mamas spend far more than I do, if a trip to one of my many local scrapbooking stores, or one of the half-dozen direct-selling scrapbooking franchise parties is any clue. My eyes would pop as the person ahead of me would ring up a $100 purchase -- stickers and eyelets and stamps, oh my! The industry is now a whopping $2.6 billion, experienced in what the Wall Street Journal calls a "dot-com style boom." Like any good boom though, a bust seems to be looming. Growth has slowed, partially because of the reason I stopped scrapbooking: the ridiculous over-complexity of the craft. It's not just expensive, it's hard, and to do it the way they do in Creating Keepsakes, well, I'd have to quit my job.
And there was a key word in that last paragraph -- mamas. Though many women without kids are into scrapbooking (I can't tell you the number of wedding planning albums I've flipped through in the past five years), the papas are few and far between. I remember the host of that first scrapbooking party I attended, tittering that there were two men at her recent conference! It was attended by thousands of women. And two men.
Yep. Dads are in scrapbooks. They don't do scrapbooks.
But the scrapbooking industry has reached the natural end of its growth if it doesn't look to new markets -- in other words, the other half of the country. Men. Obviously (I can just feel the scrapbooking stuff-pushers saying to themselves), it's the cutesy animal stickers and surfeit of ribbons and ruffles and zigzag scissors that put men off... all we need is some tractors, some Army stuff, and we'll be good to go. Right?
Umm, wrong. I could have told you that. Though there will always be a few men brave enough to be in the spotlight at, umm, the Bayou Scrappin' convention, scrapbooking is not a build-it-and-they-will-come industry. No, oh no. Certainly my husband loves to organize our family photos and his favorite memories from high school wrestling in albums. But no matter how many sheets of camouflage-patterned cardstock they carry, he's never going to set foot in The Scrapdragon.
A few smart souls have clued into the impossibility of men embracing floral-handled eyelet hammers and have begun to offer custom scrapbooking services; $10 a page, plus materials, seems to be a common rate. This may be the niche the industry will have to stick with, as the boom does not appear to be materializing.
As for me, I was lucky: a year after I started scrapbooking, I developed a blogging and knitting obsession that cured me of the expensive hobby. Now I spend $100 a month on yarn and knitting needles but -- and here's the rub -- I can use my output! And maybe that, in and of itself, is why men will never become big clients of scrapbooking companies. They're into useful arts, and scrapbooking (especially given the much greater ease of online journaling) just ain't that useful.