Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The books that bind us

The historian (and sentimentalist) in me loves making photo albums. The way I see it, there's little point in taking pictures in the first place if all your photos are just going to sit on your computer -- or in a shoebox in your closet. Personal photographs should be used and enjoyed. I have a photo album for each year from my senior year of high school through first year of law school (for trying to do the math, 1998-2004), and every time I look at them I'm honestly really thankful that I took the time to put them together -- they all bring back such wonderful memories. For my mom's 60th birthday, I made her an album using MyPublisher that pulled together family photos dating back to my parents' engagement. The task of scanning the several hundred pictures I pulled for the project was Herculean, but again, I think it was well worth the effort as now my family has (for the first time) our family photos sorted and arranged -- and outside Tupperware!

Back in November, I came across Rag&Bone Bindery via Decor8. Is anyone out there familiar with them? Before I found them on Holly's blog, I'd never heard of them, but it looks like they've been around since the late 90s. Rag&Bone Bindery is a company owned by husband/wife bookmakers out of Rhode Island and they make the most beautiful handmade books, journals and photo albums. Sure, they're a bit pricier than your Walmart versions and not as efficient as Snapfish or MyPublisher (both of which are better tasked with larger-scale photo projects), but I like supporting small businesses and artists (bookmaking is, after all, an art). Beyond that, I think beautiful, handcrafted products can be more inspiring -- and a lot more fun -- to use than their "made in China" counterparts. In any case, lured in by Decor8's 20% discount (now expired), I decided to purchase Rag&Bone's digital scrapbook ($39) in this Amy Butler print:

I thought this fabric would be the perfect home for my Hawaii vacation photos (which I took back in May of 2006 and 2007, respectively, but never got around to doing much with). When you purchase the digital scrapbook, you're also gaining access to their online print center where you can easily create customized scrapbook pages from an array of templates (including their "Aloha" templates -- how serendipitous!). Once you've uploaded your photos and inserted any desired text, you simply print out your creations onto the included paper (conveniently sized at 8.5x11) and insert the pages into the book -- et voila, you've made a beautiful scrapbook without any glue or scissors. I've already ordered several more to make additional vacation albums. For those who prefer the "old fashioned way" (or are working with older, non-digital photos), they carry traditional photo binders ($52) and large paper page albums ($78) (which are more like traditional scrapbooks) as well. All of Rag&Bone's books come in an array of beautiful fabrics and are hand made. Given the time and effort that must go into making such quality books, I'm pretty impressed with their ability to keep their prices relatively reasonable.

I wish I had known about Rag&Bone Bindery before I got married as they also make lovely guest books ($48), which can be beautifully inscribed (for an additional fee):

And for the new (or expecting) moms, I really love baby's first book ($68). Bound in ribbon, it includes fill-in-the-blank pages for some family history and all of baby's major milestones. I think this would be a truly awesome baby shower gift (and no, I'm not pregnant, but I do have a few friends who are and this is giving me ideas!):

For new moms and dads (and grandparents), the brag books ($34) are small and portable enough to keep at the office should anyone so much as mention children. I'd keep one around with pictures of my darling Olivia in it but for fear of major teasing!


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