Review: Ex Libris Anonymous Book Cover Journals

I was contacted several months ago by Jacob Deatherage, the owner of Ex Libris Anonymous,  a small company based in Portland, Oregon who make journals by hand using old recycled books. When I agreed to accept a couple of samples for review, I had no idea I’d get this large batch!


First of all, I know some people are bothered that anyone would tear apart an old book to turn it into something else, but I’d like to think that these perhaps weren’t in good enough shape to still be read. As the insert in each journal tells you, the people who make these are “artists and book lovers who believe in sustainable business practices.”


Each journal is made from the front and back cover of a book, with a few pages of the interiors scattered inside as dividers. This leads to some amusing serendipitous discoveries such as the pages below.


I also loved a section in the Boston School Kitchen Text-Book which explains why all young women should learn to cook:

“No matter how high her social position may be, no girl is sure of retaining it through life. Though in her youthful conceit she may boast of never scrubbing a floor, or washing a dish, and may think it commendable to be ignorant of the mysteries of the kitchen, the time may come when she will have harder work than this to do, and will be thankful if tehre is one thing she can do well, even if it be but the washing of dishes or the cooking of wholesome food. And if her position should chance to be that of a director of such work, rather than a doer of it, this practical knowledge will be even more valuable.”

Needless to say, in 1887 there was no need to mention that any male might also want such knowledge!

The book cover edges are sawed off in a sharp, straight edge, but there is nothing finishing off the edge to prevent it from fraying. The spiral binding is plastic.


The interior pages are quite a bit smaller than the cover, leading to a large cover overhang, which always gets on my nerves, though I know other people prefer it that way.


The paper inside is smooth and bright white, and is acid-free. All my usual pens performed nicely on it, with a soft pencil giving a nice opaque black very easily. Show-through was about average, and only the Super Sharpie and Accu-Liner bled through, which is pretty typical.




These journals would make a nice gift for any book lover. The variety of covers they use guarantees there’s something for pretty much anyone, and the hard covers will be quite durable, as some of the books are old textbooks or library editions designed to be mauled by children. Each journal is unique, so the sizes and designs vary. The prices are around $13-14 for most styles I looked at on the website.

Thanks to the very generous assortment of samples I received, we’re going to have a mother of a giveaway this time!

I’ll select three random winners from entries submitted as follows, and each winner will receive two journals:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Book Journals” and follow “@exlibrisanon” and “@NotebookStories.”

On Facebook, “like” the  Notebook Stories page and the Ex Libris Anonymous page, and post something containing the words “Book Journals” on my wall.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Ex Libris Anonymous Book Journals” and “NotebookStories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday Feb. 3 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!

3 thoughts on “Review: Ex Libris Anonymous Book Cover Journals”

  1. I have gave these books as gifts a LOT of times… very good customer service, and a unique product. I love mine (an old Biology textbook I won .. and I am a biologist so that was cool!)

  2. There are some women in town who have a similar business I have seen at a couple of local craft shows. I about had a stroke when I realized what they were doing. However, these women have a unique twist. The books they do this to originally were sexist and racist texts, even worse than the one you described. They also have a table with used copies of all kinds of subversive and controversial books.

  3. When I first came across Ex Libris I took the time to contact them through their website. I received a lengthy, detailed description of how these books are rescued from being dumped into oblivion…LITERALLY! I learned about a “dark” part of books’ lives I didn’t know even existed. (Not everyone respects them as I do) That Jacob cared enough about my question of his product sourcing to reply, in such detail, impressed me. I now rest assured that, indeed, Jacob’s integrity, alone, make these journals, a quality product worth my support! He’s doing it right in Portland!

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