Leather vs. Leatherette vs. Faux Leather: When It Comes to Custom Journals, What Do Recipients Like Best?

Not to distract from the subject at hand…I promise we’re going to get to the leather vs leatherette vs faux leather mentioned above, especially as it pertains to custom journals meant to show your customers you care (that is, if a thirst for knowledge pertaining thereto was even what brought you here, cuz we all know the world wide web is a minefield of rabbit holes and halls of mirrors). But first….

A Wee Bit of Medieval Bookbinding Trivia

Did you know cloth used to be an uber fancy cover material for books and journals? Some were even fancier than leather! Medieval works (5th to the late 15th century) were covered in what was referred to as a “chemise”, a cloth considered a symbol of veneration and whose primary goal was to protect sacred works from grubby fingers. Think velvet and satin, embroidery and painting, milliners (hat makers) getting involved, the whole nine yards (pun!). Take a look at this, the Felbrigge Psalter (copy of the biblical psalms), a manuscript from mid-13th century England that sports the oldest surviving embroidered bookbinding.

Felbrigge Psalter, the oldest known English embroidered bookbinding. Image: Felbrigge, Anne, embroiderer, Unspecified, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

f course, there was leather, too. Morocco leather to be precise, from goats, sheep, calves, and pigs. Leather, as opposed to fabric, does a good job repelling water, and is sturdy enough to protect the precious pages inside. It also lends itself to long-lasting decorations, including embossing, debossing, and other forms of tooling. Look at this, the St Cuthbert Gospel, which is the oldest surviving Western leather-bound book. It’s about 700 pages long, bound in red goatskin, and pocket size, too, measuring in at a mere 5.4 X 3.6 inches–perfect for monastery living and walking around the cloister on rainy days. 

St Cuthbert Gospel. By Unspecified – This file has been provided by the British Library from its digital collections. It is also made available on a British Library website., CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=60593558

Leather covers were great until leather got too expensive, at which point cloth became a less expensive alternative. Canvas joined the ranks as well, with leather decidedly claiming the upper hand as the preferred bookbinding material, which it still has to this day.

My Kingdom for a Horse! Or a Leather-Bound Book!

All this medieval manor type nostalgia has brought us right back ‘round to the subject at hand (Phew! Can you believe it?). That is, leather (and all variety of faux leather) journals. Turns out, we still can and do judge a book (er, journal) by its cover, and leather is still the binding that says “what’s inside matters and is meant to last.” But this isn’t the Middle Ages and leather and leather look-alikes have come a long way–easier to come by, and with a lot more options. 

So what kind of leather is best for your personalized journal? And leather vs faux leather vs leatherette? It’s going to be boasting your branding, so let’s get this right.  

Real Leather, Fake Leather, and Everything in Between

When it comes to your leather journal, you might want the real thing. Alternatively, your target audience might be leather-averse, your distribution list might be enormous and your budget, not so much, or your messaging might be deserving of a full color treatment. In these and other cases, a faux leather journal is the way to go. Many faux leather–also called leatherette–journals look just like the real thing, but cost less and offer more options. Below are some of our favorites in the real leather and faux leather categories.

Genuine Leather Journals

The price is higher and the impact is, too. We like this one:

Edinburgh Leather Journal Book: Your branding’s on the very best billboard when it’s debossed front and center on this genuine leather journal book, featuring tonal stitching, a reinforced cover, pen loop, ribbon bookmark plus four interior pockets. They won’t leave home without it!

Bonded Leather Can’t Be Beat

A mixture of real and fake leather, bonded leather has the look and feel of the real thing at a lower cost. We like these two:

Eclipse Bonded Leather 8 1/2″ x 11″ Portfolio: This portfolio includes a 30-page writing pad, an inside pocket, pen loop, and an ID holder. Great for students and employees! 

Eclipse Bonded Leather Portfolio with Calculator: This one has it all, including an 8-1/2″ X 11″ writing pad and a calculator, all zipped up in bonded leather, portfolio style. It’s too handy not to go everywhere!

Leatherette AKA Faux Leather Journals

Called leatherette, ultrahyde, or faux leather, these journals are great for creating a real leather impact at a faux leather price. Of course, they’re also the perfect fit for recipients identifying as vegetarians, vegans, Jains, Buddhists, Hindus, fans of the McPlant Meatless Burger, and zealous animal lovers of all kinds. If your recipient takes notes, makes lists, or journals on the regular, they’ll love one of these:

Charlotte Journal Notebook: This journal features a smooth leatherette finish in bright colors and includes an accordion pocket inside the back cover, a bookmark, and a matching strap closure

5″ x 7″ Leatherette Journal: Check out this journal’s smooth matte finish cover, bright trim, and built-in page marker and pen loop. Perfect!

3” X 5” Cannon Notebook: This sleek notebook features a leatherette cover in classic colors plus 30 lined pages. 

Journals & Journaling Appear to Be Ageless

Though the Middle Ages live on mostly in the pages of history books, here we are in 2021 and we’re still making lists, taking notes, binding books, and capturing life-changing moments within their pages. Leather vs leatherette, leather vs faux leather–as long as it’s a journal, it’s probably a good idea.

Thrill your customers, students, employees, and event attendees with the personalized journal of your choosing. Opt for old school tradition in the form of soft and supple leather or new school cool in the form of animal-free leatherette. Either way, your customers will think of you month over month, year over year, as they take notes, make lists, capture dreams, and make big plans. 

Browse through our full collection of customizable notebooks and journals plus padfolios to find the one that suits your style. You’ll find all manner of material, size, price point, and extras. There’s faux leather, real leather, and options in between. No embroidered velvet in the mix, but that’s tough to clean anyway. 

Cheers, and happy customizing!

P.S. For more inspo including more journal recommendations plus differences among various non-leather materials, check out our blog, Journal Gifts: Personalized Leather Journals & Faux Leather Journals.

Karleen Wise Andersen

From marketing tips to product recommendations, I’m here to help small businesses be their best.

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