Saturday, March 26, 2011


It is one week until the SCBWI conference in Rocklin. I'm all ready, but I hit a snag last week as I loaded my new presentation book with images. I wasn't happy with the quality of my new book, so I reluctantly set to work searching for a better one. 

It is nearly impossible to buy a presentation book without seeing it in person, but because I live 100 miles from the nearest art supply store, I often have to shop online for what I need. The most important thing to me are the pages. I don't like thin and flimsy and that's mostly what I'm finding. The thickest page sleeves I've found have been in Prat books. I've been using their books for almost 30 years, but they seem to have changed their sleeve quality more recently. Here are my latest findings:

My best presentation book - Prat Start with thick clear pages.
This is my old book - a 12 page Prat Start from several years ago. (Now I need  more pages so I can show 3-4 pieces from each category of work.) The sleeves in this book are very thick, non-textured, clear as glass and they don't wrinkle. They show the illustrations without distraction. Neither the sleeves or sleeve inserts ding easily and stand up to repeated viewings and image changes. It was inexpensive which means it was a great and durable book to ship off to publishers. There is no ink residue left on the inside of the sleeves after images are switched out. The cons: After many showings, the cover is showing fingerprints and the pages are sealed into the book and cannot be replaced or added to.

This Robert Ware book has flimsy pages which ding.
This is the book I was loading my work into last week. It is a Robert Ware and on the outside, it's a nice looking book. The 24 sleeves aren't as thick as I like, but I thought it would be fine temporarily. I knew it would have a lifespan of about 2 conference viewings. My impression changed when I started loading it with images. The sleeves were showing dings just by putting prints in. You can see in the photo how the sleeve doesn't sit flat on my sample. Over time this will get worse and some wrinkling will become permanent. My biggest concern was the way the black paper in the sleeves was shedding black specks all over my work. The static from the sleeves made it impossible to get rid of all of it and new specks appeared every time the pages were turned. That was a concern I didn't want while my book was on display.

The new 24 page Prat Start with "linen" cover.
The best idea was to find the quality I wanted, so I decided to find another Prat book. Their pages had always been the best. After looking at all their books and every other brand available, I decided on a 24 page Prat Start. It was impossible to tell how thick the sleeves were, so I called customer service. They told me the pages were thick and heat sealed, so I ordered the book with a rush on shipping...just in case. Glad I did. I ordered portrait format. They sent landscape.  The sleeves were also not like my other Prat book. They were a little thicker than the Robert Ware, but not crystal clear, they wrinkled and upon opening the book I noticed that some pages were already creased. (On the upside - the "linen" cover would wear well and hide fingerprints.) Even though my picture book spreads would look nice in landscape format, more than 3/4 of my work is portrait format. Having my book open the other way would take up too much table space and require awkward maneuvering - something art directors frown on. (Trust me, they do.) I can't use the book for the conference and replacing it by ordering online would be really risky.

Old style presentation book with page snagging feature.
So, it's Plan D. When I head into Sacramento the day before the conference, I'll be taking a detour to look at presentation books in person. Because it doesn't look like anyone is producing the sleeves I'm looking for anymore, I'm leaning toward a book with removable pages so they can be replaced as needed. I avoided ringed books in the past because they snagged pages and added bulk, but they've gotten better. So far the Prat Premium Case looks good. We'll see. If I don't find what I'm looking for, Plan E goes into effect - replacing the black inserts in the Robert Ware.

Please feel free to share your favorite presentation books. It's always helpful to hear firsthand experiences!


  1. I hope you find what you want down in Sac.

  2. Kristen,thank you for sharing your journey. I learned much reading your post, and had no idea the work it took to find just the right presentation book for a portfolio. I found it fascinating!

    Can't wait to read how the conference went. :)

  3. You're welcome and thanks Nathalie. I'm here to share and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to writing about the conference!