At least once a week we receive an email from someone looking for a product we no longer manufacture (or France has stopped making). Sometimes we are able to refer the person to a retailer that stocks the remaining supplies of this product. But if we get enough requests, we explore whether or not we can reintroduce it.
This email message came in earlier this week: “Bring back the Exacompta Journey Notebooks. I have been using the Spiral/Nautilus design for years and am so sad to hear that they’re going. The Rhodia webbook and Quo Vadis Habana don’t replace this. Please reconsider this decision.”
Several retailers still carry Journey Notebooks, including our good friends at Pear Tree Pens. Click here to see their Exacompta journals page.
The Journey Books started out in 2002 as “Bound Leather Notebooks.” We wanted to make an affordable, but real leather notebook. It was billed as “A field notebook…for all those who long for the trail.” The first image – “Wild Ducks” -was an original design by French artists Rafbet Garcia and Caroline Pruih in the old Japanese tradition of wood-block carving for printing. We added a leather closure with instructions on how to tie a “lark’s head” and other knots. Finally, I had my son, who was a student then at the High Mountain Institute in Colorado, prepare his special trail mix recipe. We put all of this on a storycard in the back.
The notebooks came in two sizes – 6 1/4 x 9 1/4″ and 4 x 6 7/8″. They were made with 90g Clairefontaine paper, 96 sheets and ruled. The ruled lines were narrow to give people more space to write per page. With sewn binding and elegant round corners, they were a sturdy, quality product. We didn’t shrink wrap them, because we wanted people to be able to feel the paper.
In the next years we added several more designs and changed features. The leather tie was dropped, and in its place we added a black elastic.
The new designs included the Nautilus Spiral, Celtic Knot, Little Tiki Guy, Meon Circle, and Inuksuk. We also had a plain cover for corporate sales and people who prefered a plain cover. The image for the Inuksuk was based on a photo of an inuksuk my family built out in our woods in Pennsylvania. Inuksusks–stone men–were constructed by the Inuit as landmarks, but also, I heard, as a substitute for people so travelers never felt alone in the vast wildness.. And that’s how we felt about our Inuksuk–he was a friendly presence for us in the forest.
Several years into the product life, we changed the name to “Journey Books.” More and more, people were using notebooks as diaries for personal growth and reflections and spiritual work. But alas, there were many excellent notebooks on the market including Moleskine, Graphic Image, Field Notes, Miquelrius, and of course, our own Rhodia and Clairefontaine products.
Journey Books were quietly retired around 2008.
Ever since, we receive requests for them. Should we reconsider? I would appreciate your thoughts.