Book Journals: Journal your Travel and Itinerary
Travel anywhere with me and you’ll spend time watching me dig through my bag to find my glue stick. Or, if you’re unlucky, you’ll spend time at a grocery store, helping me find a glue stick to buy. I am compelled to use the glue stick to create the most complicated, messy travel journal, everywhere I go.
I tear things from menus, cut apart vacation guides and shred brochures in search of that perfect set of words or a photo to help me illustrate my journey. It sounds distracting, but it’s a bit like treasure hunting along the roads we take to see the world. The perfect pine tree in a hotel brochure can make my journal capture the moment forever.
Will anyone ever look at my journals but me? Probably not, but every single member of my family knows that we must find a take-out menu, business card, newspaper clipping or some other piece of something flat to put on every page. It’s a family expedition, inside an expedition.
Finding the perfect journal isn’t easy. Everyone has different requirements, but for me, it’s about space. I need to be able to fill it with glued in pieces of my trip, so it needs to be expandable. It needs to be spiral bound. None of those perfect bound journals from the book store will work.
A couple years ago I ran across a site with the perfect journals. And, to make it even better, the journals are made from old books. What could be better for a writer, reader and traveler than a book made from a book?
Jacob Storm Deatherage from Portland, Ore., makes the journals at his company, Ex Libris Anonymous. He’s traveled to every garage sale, thrift store, library sale, school district, private collection and book wholesaler he can find to get the old tomes. The covers, front and back, are carefully removed from the book and they are spiral bound to journal paper. But, that’s not special enough. Deatherage will carefully select a few chosen pages from the original book and place them inside the journal, making it even more quirky.
He started it as a small business in Portland, but received an unexpected boost from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.
“We started manufacturing our journals in the year 2000 and stepped up the process upon coming upon a windfall from Paul Allen, who offered all of the residents of my poverty stricken apartment building $5,000 dollars if we’d volunteer to leave within 30 days,” he said, “so that his company could tear down aforementioned building.”
At the time, Deatherage and the other tenants were upset and felt unfairly displaced, but reason won out. “He could have just thrown us all out. Instead we came away with enough money to construct the nucleus of our bindery. We’ve been going gangbusters ever since. Thanks, Paul Allen!”
Looking through the Ex Libris Anonymous website is like taking a walk down a library aisle that hasn’t been updated since the 1980s. Customers find Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys covers, school books, Little Golden Books like Pokey Little Puppy, cook books, and yes, travel books. Everyone finds something they can relate to in the hundreds of journals on the site, Deatherage said.
“Yes, there is almost always something personal about the books that people relate to – often a childhood fondness for the source book. Baby documenting books, household planning, budgeting, and projects: All of these things people use as an excuse to fill up one of our journals,” he said.
What about the leftover pages from the books? “Mostly they are recycled, though sometimes people come by the studio to retrieve a box of two for art projects,” Deatherage said.
Travel journals don’t have to be quite as messy and cluttered as mine, but documenting the journey makes it easier to recall the itineraries and experiences that make memories.