What the heck is a paperback journal???

It's a journal in paperback format. Duh!

No, in all seriousness people ask me (Shannon, the designer and founder of PB Journal Co) all the time why I created journals in paperback. Here is the skinny on how it all came about.

I love paperbacks.

I collect them. My husband and I have hundreds, maybe even thousands of paperbacks. I scoar used bookstores for books from my childhood, rare editions, well worn love stories and dog eared sci-fi. Back in the day we couldn't afford hardbound books so I got real cozy with paperbacks. I grew to love the feel of a broken in pb, the way the cover became buttery soft and the edges took on a feathery look. I loved being able to fold a paperback in half to read it with one hand while gripping a subway strap with the other, carrying groceries up the stairs and stirring dinner on the stove while toddlers climb up my legs. I completely lost my hardbound envy and in its place began a neverending love affair with paperbacks.

I also love to journal.

I started keeping a journal when I was 11 years old. I wrote about school, clothes, sports and boys. There was a boy named Brandy who I wanted to kiss. I wrote about him in my Hello Kitty hardbound locking diary. My mother obviously knew where I kept the key. She read all about my prepubescent desires. It was not pretty. I learned very quickly that I could not trust the people in my house to respect the "hands off" disclaimer innate to every journal. I started looking for a safer place to record my thoughts. I began writing my innermost thoughts on slips of paper that I hid inside the pages of my paperback books. I would carry the paperback I was using to store my entries with me everywhere I went. It was small, lightweight and fit perfectly inside my Trapper Keeper. My mother and nosy sisters were never the wiser. That collection of innocuous paperbacks has safely sheltered my precious journal entries for over 30 years.

Fast forward to being a grown up.

I no longer needed my paperback hiding place. So, I started to use the same kind of journals everyone else did---hardbound and spirals. They were bulky and didn't fit inside my planner (my grown up Trapper Keeper) like a paperback did. I resorted to leaving my journals at home. My other complaint about traditional journals was that I like to write about different topics and keep them in separate journals. This means I have a lot of journals running around at any given time. This can get pricey. So, I gave up on journals and moved over to notebooks. They served their purpose but they were BORING. I longed for a journal that was portable, affordable and I wanted a ton of them. Oh, and they had to be FUN.

What if I combined my beloved paperback with a journal?

I can't explain how these things happen, you know how it is....one minute you are sitting there drinking your morning coffee and the next...POOF..."hey, I think I will make a paperback journal." Strange ideas come to me all the time, and I didn't act on this one immediately. It ruminated around for almost a year. Then I decided to try it. I sat down and designed a few covers, printed out sample interiors (plain, lined, grids and dotted) to play around with...and before I knew it I had a format and size I loved. Next steps were to find a printer and order some prototypes.

The box arrived!

I grabbed the box off the porch with a squeal. Curling into my favorite chair I opened up that cardboard beauty. It is no exaggeration to say that I giggled and cried as I held those lovelies in my hands. I had 5 prototypes to fill with words, doodles, magazine clippings, stickers, photos and ephemera. I used one for daily journal writing, the other 4 became subject journals. They went with me everywhere. I carried one in my Kikki K planner. The others rode along in my canvas tote. I was in love. They were perfect.

They were everything I wanted in a journal.

The size was just right. They are 6 inches wide and 9 inches tall, easily fitting inside my planner and into the smallest tote I carry. Each journal has 120 pages, which I discovered is just right to use for about 2 months of journaling. This was super important to me. I get bored very easily. I also want the gratification of filling the pages pretty quickly. I'm not a full year journal kind of girl.

The paper was just right. White, but not too white, with a velvety hand. The paper is perfect for pencil, ink, gel pens, ballpoint and fine tip. Brush markers and watercolors can be used with a light hand. I've used glue, mod podge, staples, washi tape, stickers and even duct tape in them and the paper performs beautifully.

The format was just right. The pages are dotted in a 1/4" pattern. The dots are charcoal rather than black. Dots are not just for bullet journals, they are ideal for every kind of journaling. Seriously, once you use dot paper in your journal you won't want to journal on anything else.

Here are the top 3 reasons to love dot paper....

1- it looks like blank paper if the dots are done right,

2- you can write on it as if it were lined, your eyes kind of fill in the gaps between the dots when you are writing and,

3- it gives you a grid to use for doodling and drawing without having the heavy look of grid paper.

The cover was just right. These journals are quirky and fun. Funky colors, sassy sayings, and beautiful imagery all come together to make them a joy to use. The covers are foldable, bendable and they will turn into weathered old friends.

The purpose was not visible. You won't find the words "journal" or "diary" anywhere on the cover. There are no identifiers at all, just a gorgeous paperback. It's your business what's inside.

They looked beautiful in my collection. The single most important part of the cosmetic design was the collectibility of these journals. I wanted a collection of journals that would live right alongside my beloved paperbacks.


Where did you get that?

Without fail I get asked this everytime I take out a paperback journal in public. It was this single question that led me to start PBJ as a business instead of just my own underground journal gig. I wanted to share them with the world. ♥︎

We would love to hear from you.

If there is a saying, design or scene you would like to see send us an email or tag us on instagram (@paperbackjournal.co ) with your idea. If we create a journal using your suggestion you will get the first copy off the press!

We want to see what you do with your collection of paperback journals. We love to see your tweets, instas and pins. Use the following hashtags and get featured on our feed:

#paperbackjournal, #paperbackjournals, #paperbackjournal.co, #pbjournal, #pbjournalbox