Finally we come to what should have been the first in this series: cover material. This is basically what the traveler’s notebook is made of.
In general, when we think of traveler’s notebook, we automatically assume that it would be genuine leather. This is probably because of the Midori brand (which is now just Traveler’s Company brand) TNs. These and many other brands use different types of animal leather and process them in different manners as well. Some are left in its natural undyed state but most are treated with dyes. Leathers can also vary in pliability; some are stiff and not very bendy, while some are quite soft and squishy. Leather TNs can be heavy, especially if there are a lot of extras put in such as pockets.
A lot of people are not comfortable using animal leather, though. It is for this reason that a lot of alternate materials are used in traveler’s notebooks. One of the first materials considered is cloth. Cloth is generally cheaper than leather, and can come in a wide variety of prints. Since cloth is mostly flimsy, many layers may be used as reinforcement while some use actual interfacing material in between the cloth layers. Cloth TNs are usually also lighter than leather TNs.
Another popular alternate material is faux leather. There is a wide range of different types of faux leather such as leatherette and PU leather (read more here), which means there can also be a lot of variations between the resulting TNs made from this type of material.
I have not seen many of these, but TNs can also be made from vinyl. Vinyl is basically a plastic material, and is quite pliable. As seen in this TN, it can take various patterns.
Lastly, TNs can also be made out of paper or cardboard, and are usually nicknamed “bookdori”. I made one myself, back when I was just beginning my obsession with TNs. It was to see if I would like the personal size, before committing to buying one from a TN maker. I made it out of an old white folder I had lying around.
The choice of cover material really depends on one’s intended use for the TN, as well as personal taste and considerations. Personally I have no issues with leather, and it is generally my preference. The majority of the TNs I own are leather TNs.
Traveler’s Notebook Features