Many stamp collectors will try and use DIY stamp album pages because they want to either save money, take part in exhibitions, or they are not happy with commercial offerings. Anyone wishing to enter the path of DIY album pages needs to make some long-term decision and be prepared to pay them accordingly.
The first decision is to decide whether to start everything from scratch or utilize somebody else’s work. From my own experience I can say that building stamp album pages from scratch is not an easy task; stamps (and other items) need to measured, inscriptions and page layout designed etc. It will take weeks, possibly months to get single country album pages complete; especially if you strive for perfectionism.
For common collector, the most tempting route is to buy one year access to so called Steiner pages (read my review here) from StampAlbumsWeb. They provide nearly 71,000 printable worldwide (all era) stamp album pages in printable PDF-format. For the price of 30US$ this site is a bargain – whether you want the pages or just seek inspiration to your own pages… European collectors should note that the pages are ordered “the Scott way” (non-chronological order) and they contain mainly stamps listed in Scott catalogues (meaning many stamps listed e.g. in Michel are not included).
The other route is to design DIY album pages from the scratch. The benefit of this is that pages are precisely what wanted – meaning You can build them to match your favorite catalogue, items in your collection etc. For this purpose there are tens of suitable software solutions (with cost of free to several thousands) like Microsoft Word (and other word processing/office applications), Microsoft Publisher (and other DTP applications) and AlbumEasy (dedicated software for DIY stamp album pages). Personal preferences play a major role when selecting the tool for the task; my personal favorite for designing album pages is AlbumEasy mainly because of my background with software engineering/programming.
Required assets and costs
With DIY stamp album pages the total costs accumulate from small sums. A common myth is that DIY stamp album pages are very cheap alternative. For total costs example I’m using the assumption of printing entire Stamp Albums Web content (71,000 pages) on paper.
Commercial albums are printed by default to archival quality (acid+lignin free ) heavy weight paper. Bought separately from paper store cost is usually 10-15€/100 sheets ( with notably larger amounts it is wise to buy paper directly from manufacturer or printer, and save money). A complete set of 71,000 one-sided album pages would thus cost 7,100€. Alternatively one could print the sheets two-sided and use glassine interleaving between the pages; this would cost approx. the same but would require half less space (and binders)… The third, and not recommendable way to cut costs is to use lower quality paper; for example usage of normal office paper would cut 90% of costs paper related costs.
Quality binders (at least 3-4 ring bind) from local bookstore cost 5-10€/piece and can accommodate up to 250 pages. For one-sided album pages the binders would cost 1,400€, for two-sided pages the cost of binders would be 700€. And once again, by lowering the quality demands (something I don’t recommend) it is possible to cut 90% of binder costs.
Printing is something many don’t consider as a cost, but it is (in several frontiers)… For cost and archival reasons, album pages should be printed with laser printer instead of inkjet. The actual running cost of laser printing are approx. 5 cents per page, meaning a complete set would total 3,550€. In addition there will be costs relating to electricity, maintenance etc; and possibly the cost of acquisition of suitable printer… A very rarely talked alternative approach is to ask an official quote from a local printer for whole print (with desired paper quality). This is something I recommend doing as it might cut total costs considerably.
Affixing stamps on DIY pages have the same options as with commercial stamp album pages . The cheapest option is of course to use hinges, costing roughly 1€/1000 hinges; adding 710€ to total cost.
So with some quick math, a complete DIY worldwide stamp album would cost approx. 12,800€. But as said, there are several possibilities to cut costs.