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Book 'Em

Picture the profits: Entrepreneurs make history catering to the scrapbooking craze.

Retailing trends come and go, but one constant remains: Every human being is looking for a way to leave his or her mark on the world. In an increasingly high-tech society, people's desire to put handmade, personal touches on their environment has sparked a surge in crafts shops, stamp stores, paint-your-own-pottery studios and other businesses that let customers unleash their creative urges. Now, a new passion has taken hold: scrapbooking.

Keeping a scrapbook is nothing new, but this is no longer your grandmother's hobby. "I've been keeping scrapbooks since I was 6," says Lisa Bearnson, editorial director of Creating Keepsakes ScrapbookMagazine in Orem, Utah. "We used to use construction paper, tape and rubber cement to put them together. Today, `acid-free' and `photo-safe' are big buzzwords in the scrapbooking industry. There are oodles of products on the market now to make preserving your photos more fun--such as patterned paper, stamps, stickers, templates and die-cut [designs]."

There's never been a better time to start a scrapbooking business. According to the Hobby Industry Association, the scrapbook industry accounted for an estimated $165 million in sales in 1997 alone. "Two years [prior], when the association conducted its previous survey, the scrapbooking industry wasn't even large enough to measure," says the association's assistant executive director, Susan Brandt. "Now, however, it's a strong category, and we anticipate sustained growth for some time to come."

The success of Bearnson's magazine reflects the growth of the industry. She and partner Don Lambson, the magazine's art director, started Creating Keepsakes Scrapbook Magazine in late 1996 and now have a circulation of 185,000.

Patricia L. Fry is a writer in Ojai, California.

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This article was originally published in the August 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Book 'Em.

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