There’s an infinite number of designs you can imprint on your leather-bound journal. Your paper selection is also nearly infinite with paper weights, styles, and textures. While the outside of the journal does have its purposes, most of the time spent with your journal will be composing your thoughts and drawing letters on the paper. Actually, the wrong paper can diminish the entire experience of journal writing!
Let’s do a small survey of the paper considerations for your leather journal.
Acid vs. Acid-Free
If you’ve ever been to an old bookstore and smelled that unique smell, you’re smelling decaying paper. The yellowed pages of an old book are evidence that the paper is not acid-free. Acid-free paper slows the deterioration of paper and has a life expectancy of around 500 years. This would be some 350 years longer than myself, if I was to quit my fast food diet and move in with a raw fish eating, green tea drinking family in the mountains of Japan!
Nonacid-free papers deteriorate much sooner than 500 years and must be transcribed to other media before they completely disintegrate. Most paper in journals these days is acid-free, so decay should not be a problem for modern journal keepers. Non acid-free paper is still available for those who are nostalgic and wish their paper to yellow.
Some paper is thin and flimsy. Other papers are rugged and thick. This is due to the differences in paper weight. The weight of the paper chosen can vary in all journal notebooks. Most of the time the paper weight isn’t advertised and you’ll just have to feel it. Paper weights can be very tricky because they vary based on the paper type.
For most leather journals in our Top 10, you’ll be writing on “bond” paper. The poundage of bond paper is the weight of 500 sheets of 17” x 22” paper. So, 20 pound (20#) bond paper would weigh 20 pounds. 20# is what you’ll find in most places because it’s the standard weight of office copier paper. Stationary paper is 24#. Brochures are printed on 28# or 32#. Anything heavier than that in bond paper is more suited for card stock.
If you plan on using other materials such as rag paper or vellum, do your research before buying it. A trip to a good art supply store can teach you a lot about paper weights. Buy a few small sheets of different weights and try different pens. See what has the best feel for you.
Lined vs. Unlined
We’ll take more time to talk about this in other articles, but it’s always necessary to consider whether you want to have lined or unlined paper in your journal. If you like to doodle, go with unlined. If you need straight lines, stick with lined.
We’ve seen quite a number of journals with white and ivory paper in them. We’ve even reviewed a leather journal with khadi cotton paper! Nothing’s stopping you from changing up the paper color if you’re creating a bespoke journal. It’s really just a matter of taste for paper color. Just make sure that your chosen ink works well with that color so you can read the book afterward!
Journals are more than just the binding style and the covers. The paper inside plays a major factor in the overall enjoyment of the journal. Don’t make the wrong choice for your paper!