Plenty can be done with the hundreds of digital pictures we took of our baby in his first few weeks, from simple prints and calendars to paperweights and elaborate CD slide shows that run on the PC or TV for hours.
But my favorite -- and one that is sure to be cherished for years -- is the old-fashion photo book created with high-tech tools from a company called MyPublisher Inc.
The final product is a real book that's professionally printed on archive-quality paper. The photo quality, though not as crisp as a photo print, is similar to that of books and magazines. As a book, it's in a format that's accessible to everyone, not just those with high-tech gear.
The biggest drawback is the price, starting at $30 for a 10-page book that can contain as many as 40 photos. Additional pages are $2.95 each, up to 100 pages. It can add up quickly, but the firm occasionally offers deals.
Similar services are offered elsewhere, including in Apple Computer Inc.'s iPhoto organization software. In fact, MyPublisher appears to produce the books created in iPhoto, with both shipping from Valhalla, N.Y. Apple won't say.
But iPhoto has its drawbacks. For one, it only works on a Mac, and it has limited layouts.
I started my baby book project with iPhoto on my Mac but was frustrated by how I couldn't make major adjustments to the layout of photos. After a quick Google search, I discovered that MyPublisher offered a free program that offered much more flexibility, but it only worked on a Windows PC.
I exported the pictures from iPhoto and transferred them over my home network to a computer running Windows XP, though I could just as easily have transferred them from my digital camera. The 1.3-megabyte MyPublisher BookMaker program installed in seconds.
MyPublisher also offers a handy pricing tool, which automatically calculates how much the book will cost.
I was pleasantly surprised by the quality once the books arrived. The pictures appeared exactly as I had laid them out, with all the cute captions I wrote. The 8 1/2 by 11-inch pages are printed on glossy paper.