Bound Custom Journals first came on my radar when they launched their business on Kickstarter in summer of 2011. For reasons that escape me now, I didn't back the project. This was around the time of the Pen Type-A boom, so I'm guessing my Kickstarter budget was fully accounted for at that time? Yeah, lets go with that.
Despite my lack of backing, the guys behind Bound ran with their Kickstarter success and launched a full-fledged business behind their custom journals and memo books. I have been anxious to build my own for a while, and thanks to the kindness of the Bound team I was able to customize a couple of my own journals at no charge. Bound makes it extraordinarily easy to customize your own journal. To start with, you choose from three base models: the Original Bound Journal, the Bound Memo, or the Vegan Leather Bound Journal. From that point, as Bound so eloquently puts it, "There are more unique ways to customize a Bound Journal than atoms in the universe, SQUARED."
I created one each of the Original Bound Journal and the Bound Memo. Customizing each of these was a blast, as I went with a mix of inserts and paper styles, including a regional map of the US, square grid, dot grid, and blank pages. There are opportunities to branch out even more with pages for wireframes, Cornell Notes, calendars, games, micro-journaling, and more. The number of each type of page is fully at your control as well. Production of my two journals was fast too, comprising just four business days from the day I placed the order to receiving the shipping notification. Once my package arrived, I opened it to find it neatly organized, including the signature of the employee who put my journals together. I love small touches like that.
I chose the Original Bound Journal to run my ink tests on and the paper performed decently, with a couple of small issues. Gel ink pens were the best performers, handling a wide range tip sizes with ease. Even my 0.3 mm Pilot Hi-Tec-C was silky smooth. What didn't work so well were fountain pen inks. This is the norm with most standard journal papers, but at $35 the Bound Journal falls into the premium category to me. It would be nice to see a more fountain pen friendly paper used. The ink did not feather much but there was a good bit of show through. Writing on the back of the page is not an option if fountain pens are your primary writing utensil.
If you look closely at the back of my ink test page you will notice a lot of line pressure marks coming through the back of the page and transferring to the next page as well. I don't have that heavy of a hand so this could even be more of an issue to some. Stick with smooth gel ink pens are drawing pens and you will be in good shape. In the grand scheme of things I am very happy with my Bound Custom Journal but I do see it as more of a gift/special occasion product. For $35 I would be hard pressed to make this my every day notebook when I can get larger and higher quality notebooks for half the price. But if you are looking for a unique, highly customizable, 100% Made in the USA product that YOU create how YOU want then you should give Bound Custom Journals a try.
For another recent look at this product check out the review at Notebook Stories.