Journey Books

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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.

12 thoughts on “Journey Books

  1. Hi Everyone. Thank you for your comments. I will bring up re-introducing Journey books when we start working on our 201l catalog in the fall. I’ll keep you posted.

  2. Great post, Karen, and thanks VERY MUCH for the link out to us!

    DB, I did a little checking on the back end of our site, and from what I can see, everything is in order. Could you send me an email (myfirstname) and let me know what you’re looking for? Perhaps I can help.

    I’m a big fan of these notebooks, too; great form factor and terrific paper! Count me among the number who’d like to see these come back to life!

  3. Hi Karen,

    Thank you so much for putting this on the blog. As it was my email you quoted in this, you’ll get an emphatic YES from me. James says once he’s out of what he has, that’s it and they are going fast. These little notebooks have their niche and will be dearly missed. I did enjoy learning about their inception/history. I’ve been using them for 6 years.
    I am so appreciative of you and Exacompta for taking the take to listen to consumers. Please bring back the Journey.
    all best.

  4. Having only fairly recently come to know of you and your fabulous products, I too request you reconsider. Narrow lines – cool! But the cover designs speak to me as does the title “Journey Book” as I am on such a journey as you mentioned. Small unobtrusive symbols speak volumes at the right times in our lives.

    I also want to thank you for being so sensitive to your customer base. That, in and of itself, is what keeps me here.

  5. yes please! love the 90g narrow ruling and it’s difficult to find. it would be good to have a plain simpler item in the product line up.

  6. By the way, I immediately went to Pear Tree Pens, and it appears just about all of the larger Journey notebooks are out of stock.

  7. YES – please bring them back. I am so particular about the line spacing in notebooks, and it’s hard to find the ones you describe on the 90g paper with narrow ruling. I also like the fact that you leave them unwrapped so people can feel the paper. That way you can also see the line spacing.

    One of my pet peeves is that there are so many people doing reviews of notebooks on blogs, or writing descriptions of the notebooks on retailers pages and they leave the line spacing out!!

  8. The story told in this posting is the main reason why, when I find an item I really like, I buy a whole bunch. Journals, for example. I know with metaphysical certainty that when I find something I like, something perfect for its use, the manufacturer will discontinue it as soon as I buy one.
    My current journal was something I found in the bargain aisle at Borders some years ago. Just a nondescript 266-page journal with a cloth-and-faux-leather cover. There were dozens of them on the shelf at the time and I only bought one. It sat unused in my studio for several years before I took it up to use as a commonplace book (which initial idea quickly morphed into a full-time journal). Now I’m about two-thirds thru it and find it perfect in every detail. So of course it’s no longer sold or, as far as I can tell, even made.
    Yes, bring these little notebooks back. You’ll make people very, very happy.

  9. Please do bring these products back.I would love a journal with narrow lines (I cant use the aforementioned notebooks because of their lines).the designs are particularly appealing.
    Thanks for considering your customers needs. I will no doubt be getting some of these if they make a reappearance.

  10. Hi Karen,

    Thanks for the heads-up on these great journals. I went to the Pear Tree site and ordered 4 of them, two small, and two large. At those prices, they were such an excellent value, how could I resist?

    My suggestion would be to keep these in production, I will undoubtedly want more. You might consider a theme of great writers in the field of conservation, people such as; Henry David, John Muir, Aldo Leopold, Richard Proenneke, Edward Abbey, and I am sure there are many more. All of these people made extensive use of notebooks over their entire career. One with squared format would be wonderful, and I would be the first in line to buy those. My favorite of the ones I just ordered is the one with the ducks.

    A bit of the subject, when might we expect to see a Rhodia Webbie with squared pages?

    Best regards,


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