Monday, December 18, 2006

Still need a last minute Christmas gift?

Or how about a gift for yourself? In case you missed the RAK newsletter, I reviewed an AWESOME PRODUCT that is perfect for us digiscrappers! Here is an excerpt of my review:

Now that you are digital scrapbooking, you have all these magnificent memories beautifully scrapped. You have photos and layouts saved on your computer, CDs burned, external hard drives filled, etc. You’ve often thought if only there was an EASY, QUICK, INEXPENSIVE, and GOOD-LOOKING way to print and bind these pages, to give as a gift or to display in your home… Sigh.

Look no further my friends! I have finally found the answer – Unibind’s PhotoBook Creator.  This new product is a must-have for digital scrapbookers who are looking for a cost-efficient and professional way to bind their pages at home. Let me explain…

Always a skeptic, I tried the product named the 2006 American Photo Editor’s Choice Award out. I had ordered hardbound books from various online sites, but it was pricey and took forever. Some books arrived with half of my journaling missing! The idea of being able to bind my own books was incredibly intriguing to me, and the claim that you can finish the book in 90 seconds was too good to be true. Or so I thought.


The standard PhotoBook Creator package includes (a) one thermal binding machine (shown above), (b) one 8 ½ x 11 black landscape hard photobook cover with window, and (c) the Collage Creator software by ArcSoft. My box did not include instructions or paperwork of any kind, but the company representative I spoke with said that this has been resolved since my product shipped. In the end it didn’t matter – the product is extremely easy to use.

I gathered up some layouts (about 20) I had previously printed on my photo printer on 8 ½ x 11 heavyweight matte photo paper (by Epson) and carefully aligned them. I then laid them in the photobook cover and plugged in the binding machine (there is no on/off switch). Next, I placed the book with the binding side down in the middle of the machine. The weight of the book started the process, and a red light came on to tell me that it is working. After about 90 seconds, the light turned green which basically meant the thermal binding process is complete. After allowing it to cool, I took the book and began flipping through it. I was amazed – I was holding a hardbound book of my own layouts, and it took only a couple of minutes! I started yanking on the pages, pulling and twisting them, and they did not budge. I was hooked!

I had extra covers to play with, so I decided to bind a few more books using different paper. I bound one book with 15 pages of cardstock and another with 20 pages of standard copy paper and both books turned out perfectly. TIP: Make sure you align your pages as precisely as possible.

The professional-quality covers come in various finish styles (from linen to leather), window styles, and colors, and are available up to size 12x12. Note that being a new product, the covers in stock are limited. The 8 ½ x 11 size is the most widely available, in black or white. Since I design my pages 12x12, I just printed my layouts 8x8 on 8 ½ x 11 photo paper and added a little quote at the bottom in the margin. I was very pleased with the results!

I did have one question – can I add pages to the book? I contacted a company spokesman from Unibind who explained that you can add/remove one page by simply going through the binding process again. You cannot do more then one page at a time or reuse the covers however. Note that the number of pages you can bind depends on the cover’s spine size and the type of paper you are using – for example, 3mm will hold 10-25 pages, 5mm will hold 25-40 pages, etc.

I then remembered that software had been included, so I popped in the Collage Creator. It is important to note that no computer or software is required to use the PhotoBook Creator – the Collage Creator is included in the package as a bonus only. The software would most likely be appropriate for those individuals unfamiliar with the more popular photo-editing software available (Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro, etc.), but I found it very limited.

Priced at about $100, the PhotoBook Creator package is truly an affordable way to bind your photos. The cost per cover averages about $8-$10 - add the cost of printing your pages for a true cost per book.

Considering the binding machine can be used over and over again, the covers are well-made and durable, the process takes a couple of minutes, AND I have complete control over the binding, I would *highly recommend* this product for everything from storybooks to presentations, memory albums to portfolios!

For more information on the PhotoBook Creator and where to purchase it, visit: