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A leather cover on your notebook makes what is otherwise an everyday object luxurious. And high-quality leather will weather over time to show off just how much you’ve loved it. These days, it’s easy to find a range of designs and price points, as well as vegan options. Whether you are using your notebook as a diary, for jotting down notes, or for sketching, our picks below will make the task more enjoyable. A note: The nicest notebooks and covers usually come in European sizes, like the useful A5, which is 5 7/8 by 8 1/4 inches. A4 (8 1/4 by 11 3/4 inches) is also handy if you are looking for a larger size.
Traveler’s Company Traveler’s Notebook Starter Kit
Traveler’s Company, formerly a division of Japanese brand Midori and now an independent entity, makes a sumptuous and super slim leather notebook cover. It comes in several colors, from a camel leather to a blue leather, and in two sizes: regular size, which measures about 4 3/4 by 8 3/4 inches, and a smaller passport size. Covers come prefilled with a notebook featuring blank Midori MD paper that is satisfyingly smooth and bleed-resistant (even with fountain pens), and refills are available for both sizes in a range of sheet styles, including lined, graph, and calendar. The notebook is held in place with a simple yet sturdy elastic band; another band goes around the cover horizontally to keep it closed. Each cover is handmade and develops a beautiful patina as you use it, making this a lightweight, indulgent option that still lands on the lower price of the leather notebook price spectrum.
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Moleskine Classic Leather Notebooks
Moleskines are expensive, but they make writing or drawing a truly pleasurable experience. Each 5-by-8 1/4-inch book features a durable, cushiony cover made of fine Italian leather with a subtle pebbled finish. The ruled, ivory-colored pages are super smooth, sturdy, and crisp, although not as thick as some other options on this list—test your inky pens first, as they might bleed! Like all Moleskine notebooks, this one comes with a pocket in the back for storing notes, tickets, and other ephemera. The lie-flat design is the cherry on top. Choose from four colors: black, yellow, red, and a soothing forget-me-not blue.
Midori MD Notebook Cover
We dare you to buy a leather cover made of the palest undyed goatskin! Aside from being visually stunning, the leather is amazingly supple and soft. It also wears beautifully, gradually darkening over time, and has a pen loop for your go-to writing utensil. Fill it with a high-quality notebook from Midori that is thread-bound with 20-percent-cotton paper. Choose from four sizes of cover: A5, A6, A4 and B6 Slim—each fits its corresponding Midori notebook like a glove. This cover will also take other brands of notebook, but why should it?
A GREAT ALTERNATIVE
Apica CD Notebook Wear Cover
If you like the look of leather but don’t want to own an animal-derived product, choose this tempting red journal from Apica. Its faux leather cover feels soft and luxurious and fits two B5 notebooks measuring approximately 7 by 10 inches—somewhere between A4 and A5. It comes with one gridded notebook; either slip its front into the cover’s front flap, or slip its back into the cover’s back flap for a snug hold. The covers are flexible, but this product comes with a transparent board to place behind your page for support. Apica’s notebooks are also lovely to use, with 40 sheets of acid-free paper, in a clean but not blinding white, capable of withstanding gel and fountain pens, as well as markers, with minimal bleedthrough.
Leatherology Large Sketchbook
This woman-owned business puts out high-quality leather goods at relatively affordable prices. We’re partial to their spiral sketchbook, which features a thick but flexible leather cover to protect your most precious drawings. The papers you get may not be artist-grade, but you can always replace the notebook with any sketchbook loaded with 8.5-by-11 inch paper once you run out. After all, the buttery-soft, pleasingly tactile cover, which highlights natural grain variations, is the star. You can also get it with a lined notebook, if you want to use it for writing. Since this cover arrives beautifully packaged, it makes for a thoughtful gift for creative friends.
TOP OF THE LINE
Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter Bestseller
This is just a cover, and notebooks need to be purchased separately. But it can be used with any A5 notebook, not just Roterfaden’s. Made of textured, vegetable-tanned, full-grained nubuck leather, the cover is ultra-luxurious and guaranteed to develop a beautiful patina. Its interior also stuns, as it’s lined with velvety suede—a real treat for your hands! There’s also a unique clipping system to hold notebooks at their spines. Two business-card-sized pockets and a pen holder help keep you organized.
1. KomalC Handmade Leather Journal
If you’re seeking a leather journal that is evocative, with a naturally worn look that makes it seem almost like a relic from the past, look no further than this option. Each journal is handcrafted by skilled artisans to yield a truly unique book, from the cover, which features an asymmetrical flap, to the blank paper, which is made of recycled cotton and is thick enough to prevent bleeding from markers and even watercolors. The materials are securely bound using the ancient Coptic stitch, with this artistry visible on the spine. A soft leather strap keeps this beautiful brown notebook snugly closed when not in use.
2. Bedsure Leather Journal
Similar in look to our top pick, this dark brown journal from Bedsure is also hand-bound to resemble a vintage artifact. The genuine leather cover has been burnished so it is super smooth with a slight sheen, and it’s durable enough to resist accidental nicks. Inside, find lined kraft paper with 6.5-millimeter spacing, each page thick enough to prevent ghosting and bleeding even if you’re using an inky fountain pen.
3. Denik Hardcover Sketchbook
If you like the look of leather but don’t want to own an animal-derived product, choose this journal from Denik. Its faux leather cover feels soft and luxurious and is available in seven vibrant designs. Inside, find 88 blank and bright white pages that are made from recycled paper. While the pages are glue-bound, they don’t easily fall out, and the binding allows the journal to lie flat when open for easy writing or sketching.
4. Moleskine Classic Leather Notebook
Moleskines are expensive, but they make writing or drawing a truly pleasurable experience. Each features a soft and durable cover made of fine Italian leather with a subtle pebbled finish; not only does this feel good, but it also smells good. The ivory-colored pages are super smooth, sturdy, and crisp, although not as thick as some other options on this list. The lie-flat design is the cherry on top.
5. C.R. Gibson Brown Bonded Leather Journal
If you like the look of a Moleskine but can’t bring yourself to splurge on one, consider this alternative. Similar in style to the Italian product, this journal features a cover made of 80 percent cowhide and 20 percent non-leather material that is still smooth and satisfying to the touch—although not as durable as a Moleskine cover. The pages are Smyth sewn, which involves stitching together grouped and folded sheets of paper to yield an incredibly strong and long-lasting binding. We find the sheets a little thin and slightly rough, but all in all this is an excellent and stylish journal at an accessible price.