5 Non-Photo Photo Book Ideas for Every Hobby

Here at Mixbook, we love photo books dressed up with custom stickers and design elements created by you from scans—you are such a creative bunch! But did you know that scanned objects themselves can be the basis for a themed photo book of a different variety? If, like I do, you have boxes full of ephemera—tickets, pamphlets, postcards, labels, and menus—with a few foreign coins thumping around at the bottom, consider sorting and scanning for a couple amazing photo books that showcase your collections. Oftentimes, the souvenirs we collect tell fascinating stories about the hobbies and activities we spend a big chunk of our time celebrating. Here are the top five non-photo, hobby-based book ideas on my list.

1. For the Oenophile

If you’ve been tossing wine labels into a shoebox for years, sort them by varietal and vintage, then upload into a photo book that makes sense of all your sampling. It’s fun to have a visual history of your adventures in tasting, plus you’ll learn a lot about how your palate has changed over the years. If you’re just starting your adventure with wine, start saving labels now. Grape-Nutz offers a great tutorial on removing wine labels. Each time you upload a label you can add tasting notes along with memories of the occasion and the people you toasted with.

2. For the World Traveler

"Travel the World" photo book design

When you travel—especially abroad—everything looks different. From sugar packets, pastry wrappers, napkins, and beer coasters to currency, train tickets, and receipts, it all has a romantic twinge of otherness. Sadly, sugar packets and pastry wrappers can’t really go in a scrapbook unless you’re hoping to attract bugs, and the rest resists placement in an album for lots of reasons from awkward sizing to non-archival paper. Especially when an entire monetary system and telephone technology become obsolete since you’ve been there (see inset of Greek Drachmas and phone card), it’s pretty cool to have a photo book that preserves the memory of your experience that goes beyond photos snapped in front of the Parthenon and captures a robust visual and tactile history of your time there.

3. For the Culture Lover

I don’t know a single person who isn’t plagued by periodic surfacing of tickets stubs. What to do with these tiny pieces of paper? They’re too small to place in a photo album, yet too meaningful toss out. Especially once you’ve had children and going to shows and performances becomes that much more rare, stubs become a familial treasure—a reminder that you once got out. (Don’t laugh at the dates on my featured collection of ticket stubs.) Scan your tickets, upload them to your Mixbook, and then make notes about any memories associated with the occasion. In my book, I’ll add that I found out I was pregnant with my first child the day of the 2005 White Stripes concert at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley. And next to the stub from the Metropolitan Opera in New York, I’ll make a note of how my husband successfully snuck in to see Pavarotti in what turned out to be his final performance. This is stuff worth saving!

4. For the Foodie

A collection of menus can come together to create a great memory book of meaningful meals. Keep a file where you toss copies of the paper menus accumulated over the course of a year, then upload them into a timeline of culinary adventures. Remember that this kind of book need not be limited to fancy dining. From a greasy menu listing the three offerings from an alleyway food truck to a special-occasion meal at French Laundry, a great meal’s a great meal—and the memory is worth saving. Add notes about the occasion, plus what you ate. Flipping through your menu photo book adds dimension to your memory, with tastes, sights, and smells helping to conjure up that moment in time.

5. For the Runner

My collection of race bibs is getting so big that I don’t know what to do with it at this point. Some are pinned to a bulletin board over my desk but others are shoved in a shoebox in the garage. The truth is that it’s inspiring to see them, so my plan is to scan them into a memory book that tracks the past decade plus of adventures in running. I’ll be sure to make notes of my times next to each bib, so I have proof that I have actually gotten faster with each year. How amazing will it be to share this book with my boys someday? My mom, now 67 years old with a head full of snow-white hair, still puts her running shoes on every day. In fact, she still challenges me every time we run together. She’s my inspiration—and that’s what I hope to be for my boys as they grow into whatever kind of athlete they become. Something tells me that my sons will outrun me sooner rather than later, but my book of race numbers will be a lasting testament to my dedication.

What kind of scan-based photo books have you considered making? If it’s really unique, I’ll write a post about it! Celebrate your favorite hobby by creating a photo book now!

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