Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review: Bound Custom Memo & Bound Vegan Leather Journals

Yes, you've heard of custom journals before. Where you get to pick between lined, graph, or blank paper. Thrillsville. Ta-Da! In swoops Bound Custom Journals! These are truly customizable journals, but I'll get to that in a minute. I selected these two items to review, with the help of a gift certificate from Joel (thanks Joel!!).
Bound Custom Journals
Nice earth tones.
Bound has (at least) three great things going for them, aside from being awesomely customizable:
  • The paper is 100% post-consumer
  • The paper is acid-free, so it will last you a lifetime. 
  • Journals are made in Durham, North Carolina. 
How are these journals made? Bound has a really great, thorough FAQ you can peek through if you want more detail, but here's what they tell us:
Bound custom journals are manufactured by hand using a three step process. First, the content you have selected is printed digitally on 100% post consumer recycled paper. Second, the printed pages are cut and prepared for binding as what we call in the industry a “book block.” Finally, the book block is hand-bound in the cover you have selected using a proprietary binding technique.
Bound Memo - ($10) - 3.5" x 5.5"

The Bound Memo journal is a small, pocket sized notebook. The cover is cardboard-style and flexible - the front cover can fold back completely. I selected the kraft color (I've really been into kraft lately) but there are four other colors you can select. The Bound Memo has 48 pages that you can customize.
Bound Custom Journals - Custom Content - Austin Map
You can get city center maps of a few places. Since I live in Austin, I thought it would be neat, and it is! Not too jumbled, easy to read. Did I mention the paper smells good?
Bound Custom Journals - Custom Content
The isometric grid (lined) is so much fun. It's perfect for random doodling.
Bound Custom Journals - Custom Content
The isometric grid (dot) is just as awesome but gives you a little more freedom!
Bound Custom Journals - Custom Content
Well, I'm clearly not an artist. But I had to put something in the storyboard page to demonstrate it. Right? This is supposed to be Tyco...
Bound Custom Journals - Custom Content
Music staff, to-do list. Note to self on the back side.
Bound Vegan Leather Bound Journal - ($50) - 4" x 6"

I was most curious about the vegan leather (available in brown and black). I was trying to figure out what the material could be! For some reason I was expecting a more leather-like material so I was a little surprised to find the material is polyurethane. However, it's nice, soft, and very smooth, with the Bound logo tastefully placed on the front. There are 140 pages to customize in this journal.
Bound Vegan Leather Journal
I love the covers of this journal. Both the Vegan Leather Bound journal and the Original Bound journal have a cover described as "Flexi-bull" - it looks like and feels a bit like a hard cover, except it's still relatively soft and bendy! It's like the best of both worlds.
Bound Vegan Leather Journal Cover
There are so many different page types to include in any of these journals. Once you select a journal and move to the content customization section, you can select different page types, select ruling spaces (i.e the spaces between your dots), you can select how many of that page you want included, and you can rearrange your content to suit the order you want. You can get lines on one side, dots on the other, a story board on the next page, notes to self on the next page, etc.
Stack of Journals Paper Comparison
For paper color comparison purposes!
Top to bottom: Writer's Blok lined notebook, Moleskine blank notebook, Banditapple Carnet PeeWee blank notebook, Field Notes lined memo book, Bound memo book + dot grid.
You all must be curious about the paper by now. Well, fountain pen users,  there's some good news and bad news. Good news is, the paper is decent. There was no feathering with the pen/ink combinations I tested, and I hate feathering. I'd take bleed through over feathering any day. The paper is smooth and the ink dries quickly on it because it's not coated. Unfortunately, there is bleed through, especially with wet nibs. The paper takes pencils, gel pens, and ballpoints without problem. There was minor show through with marker pens (i.e Sharpie pen).
Bound Custom Journals - Custom Content
I like the feedback from the paper a lot.
Bound Custom Journals - Custom Content
Major bleed through, clearly.
The best comparison I can think of to the Bound Memo ($10 each) would be the Field Notes memo books ($10 for three), both of which are made in the U.S.A, though Field Notes are not printed on recycled paper.
Stack of Journals
Pocket sized!
Stack of Journals
The Vegan Leather Bound journal could be compared to Daycraft's journals, whose covers are Italian polyurethane, and the paper is decent though not entirely fountain pen friendly.
Stack of Journals - Bound Vegan Leather Comaprison
My only complaint is the price, and I can't really complain about that either, because I try to shop locally and support small businesses when I can. I firmly believe in supporting companies that use recycled materials, because what's the point of recycling things if no one buys recycled products? They are also made in the USA which means less shipping to get it to me, thus less resources consumed.

Another Bound Review
Whatever! 
East...West...Everywhere

Prices
Memo Book - $10
Original - $35
Vegan Leather - $50

Overall 
Bound custom journals come at a premium price so perhaps they're not ideal for your everyday, scribble-all-sorts-of-junk in journal - though there's no reason you can't do that. But you can customize them to your almost every whim - I love that these journals are customizable - cover color, content, order. And, they are made in the USA, on 100% recycled paper. Bound custom journals fall into the "green" category for me. They are pricy so if you are going to get some, you best make use of the customizing. These are good quality journals and quite environmentally- and animal-friendly.

Bound also offers gift cards or bulk orders which would be totally awesome for something like a wedding favor or a very thoughtful gift for that stationery freak addict connoisseur in your life!

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GourmetPens by Azizah Asgarali is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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