It is no secret that Midori (now called Traveler’s Company*) does not like the fact that there are inspirations or interpretations of their covers (often called fauxdoris, though I prefer not to use this term myself, because I don’t feel they are faux anything. I tend to just say TN cover if it is not a Midori). Midori have been very clear about their disdain for people who make similar covers to their own, and refuse to sell refills anywhere that does not sell their covers.
I own several genuine Midori covers (brown, blue, black, camel, airport edition) but actually prefer the other versions. I do not feel I am buying fakes by buying them (though purists would not agree). Why?
- I am not a fan of the Midori leather – it is too soft and too easily marked for me. I like really thick leather (9oz belt leather is my favourite) that can take a bashing.
- I prefer pebbly leather.
- I don’t like the closure hole to be placed in the back cover. I prefer it on the spine. I also don’t like the protruding metal disk that the genuine Midori has.
- The covers are too small for me – I like up to 12 elastics (14 notebooks) in my cover and the Midori (with its two elastics) is designed for, at the most, 4.
- I like square spines like Terri at Speckled Fawns does, because it keeps the insert booklets flush against the cover.
- I prefer other sizes of cover – primarily A5 and personal. But you can also find regular size wide/Moleskine cahier, micro, pocket, Field Notes, A6, B5, B6, and even A4 – sizes that are not offered by Midori, who only offer passport and regular size covers.
- I like the different options offered by other cover makers – clasps (studs, straps, flaps), carved, painted, integral pen loops, internal pockets, external pockets, embossing, credit card slots, tooling, themed, stitched, trifold, quadfold, personalisation, combination Hobonichi/TN/Filofax covers.
- Van Der Spek offers custom covers (called Nomads) with 60 different leathers and all kinds of personalisation options such as secretarial pockets and rows of credit card slots. So you can have one to match your organiser.
- Gillio offers the Giramondo in the same shades and leathers as their organisers. How could you not drool over a notebook cover in their beloved and so very special epoca leather! My favourite would be gold or purple.
- For people who do not use leather products, there are plenty of non-leather notebook covers out there. Midori only offer leather covers.
- For TN users who cannot afford to buy covers, they are easy enough to make from found materials. Tutorials are easy to find on YouTube.
The same goes for inserts. I love the genuine Midori plastic pockets and pouches, their calendars, Kraft folders and their lightweight inserts. I also have rulers, stencils and a pencil case by Midori as well as several of their notebooks and some paperclips. But when it comes to specialised inserts, you can find plenty of them on Etsy – weight trackers, time management systems, reading lists, project management inserts, bullet management notebooks, and many more. Midori themselves could NEVER do things like DIYfish does with her time management inserts!
I don’t feel any of these other cover or refill artisans are encroaching on Midoris territory. Many people have always and will always prefer the original. Many have moved over from the inspirations to the original. Many use both. And many others who use ‘fauxdoris’ would never have bought Midori anyway because it would not suit their needs. I honestly think the market is big enough for everyone and each area brings customers to the other areas as well, as they search for what suits them.
One thing I really like is that the makers of covers are often artisans who work on a small scale. Van Der Spek and Gillio are both small family-owned companies. Chic Sparrow has moved from Etsy to her own site but is still very much a cottage industry, providing personal support to her customers and interacting in the Chic Sparrow Facebook group. You have Yochanan Israel from Zenkraft (who produces what can only be called portable desks!), and Monique Vanmeulebrouk from Lady Falcon producing outstanding work. Paper flower’s Glenda Slann specialises in themed notebook covers. And the other artisans often combine their work with a regular job. There is no mass production on an industrial scale and I think that is fantastic.
My favourite size is the personal. Probably because I am a user of Filofax personal-sized organisers and the size is optimal. Not too big and not too small. My favourite style has lots of elastics (8-12), holds up to 16 books and has inside and preferably outside pockets. Once I started using covers with pockets, I will never go back.
I think each one enhances rather than detracts from the other. I mainly use Midori refills in other covers but I also have original Midori covers. I use them together with a Filofax, who, incidentally, are in the same position with Filofax-compatible binders or inserts being readily available from several different companies ranging in size from small to enormous.
One thing I do really admire, is that Midori, unlike Filofax and Moleskine, have not sold out and diluted their brand in favour of trends and fashion. They have stuck to the tried and true, their heritage. The most they do is bring out the odd different limited edition colours and themes in the same sizes, with the same inserts. I hope they continue to do this because so few brands do. So many of them (Alexander Wang, Botkier, Marc Jacobs, Michael Kors) started out with a small, loyal niche market but then sold out and were forced by their boards to capitalise on their popularity by flooding the market with cheaper versions, collaborations and they alienate their core market.
And, as far away from Midori while still being a Traveler’s Notebook as anyone can get…. Tony Mo’s Tough Old Boots! I have been in love with these for ages and ages! Are they not EPIC? Here is Tony’s Tough Old Boots Instagram. Those briefcases are so beautiful I want to weep!
*TRAVELER’S COMPANY consists of TRAVELER’S notebook, BRASS PRODUCTS, SPIRAL RING NOTEBOOK and other related products. We also own and run the shop TRAVELER’S FACTORY. All these products share the theme of traveling that takes place in one’s daily life. In order to pursue and enrich this theme, we changed the brand name from “MIDORI” to “TRAVELER’S COMPANY” in 2015. Through this change and the notebook we make, we would like to propose a journey where one can express themselves freely.
I’ve done a lot of research into traveling notebooks and diaries. The oldest images I have found so far are from the Lewis and Clark expedition. Looks like a tri-fold travelers notebook to me. Historically people have been wrapping paper up in leather to carry with them for a very long time.
Wow that is so interesting – could you email me the images so I could see? janet.carrATgmail.com
Someone was interested in dates to Midori’s TN, well I bought one back then (2008) at a chain called Kinokuniya. Pelle was also another at the time, but slowly faded away, which was too bad because I liked their sizes… I had seem them earlier, but didn’t hop on them because at the time they still were pricey. They just released their 10th anniversary tins and merch, so 10 years now they’ve been around…
I do agree that it’s all personal preference and there are some companies making great things (Tough Old boots is up my alley), but find that the inserts (Midori’s) are easily accessible to me when I am out and about in the city vs. ordering ‘made by someone else’ inserts…
For ease I just have gone with Midori’s TN, love their Pan Am version… and the Camel they released still doesn’t compare to their Star Ferry edition. I know what I’m getting with their papers as well, if they could collaborate with Tomoe River paper I’d be all set! Best of both worlds 🙂
Thanks for that Storm – very interesting about the date!
I have to say I love Midori traveler’s notebook. I have several TN and Midori is the last one standing. There is something special about the leather n the cover thAt I just cannot give up with. Yet, I have to admit I hate over hang and that’s why I am still in the search of the perfect one! I have a giramondo coming on my way now and considering to get nomad. Hope I’ll fall in love with either.
Just to clarify – the original covers definitely fit more than two notebooks. I have 3 inserts, a kraft folder, and a plastic zip folder in mine with barely a couple millimeters of overhang. It fits, easily.
For me, I struggle with 3rd party makers who make items almost identical to Traveler’s version. If the company is making something that TC doesn’t, I don’t see how they can be too upset because they aren’t offering it. But I do think the companies should be honest about the inspiration. As a content creator, I find it annoying when the inspiration is OBVIOUSLY there, the new product never existing if it weren’t for the original, and they are vague about the inspiration. Be honest – it’s the good thing to do. The fact that they’re called “fauxdoris” proves Midori’s inspiration in the existence of these notebooks.
I must have about eight of these covers by now, starting with Midori Standard TN. I do like the leather on them because my hands are small and tend to arthritis, so the soft leather allows me an easier grip. I have a larger one and a pocket in the belt leather you describe–smooth and thick–but I can’t grip them, so I don’t use them.
But now I’m finding that there is genius at Etsy with these, too. I bought a passport size made of thick vinyl–very 70s looking, with a coffee cup on it–from ShopJot. Very cool, easy to grip. And Kristie from Gold Standard Workshop–God BLESS her!–just went way beyond and custom-made one just for me, with pockets, pen loops. It should be in Texas any day now, and I can’t wait. I bought two more Standards in gorgeous fabrics–Veiled Crane and Sew What Else Is New, one in a travel fabric, and one in a library them, with different appointments. The last is another passport version, a beautiful watercolor floral fabric, that I had made in the UK from Lyra and Co. I just call them all “Dori” and, like you, I don’t agree with the “faux” part. No one is trying to pass themselves off as purveyors of knock-offs.
I understand Midori’s ire–they are still Midori in the States–but they have to understand that ANYTIME a product is made, be it a TN, or a phone, or a computer, someone will enhance or improve their concept. I, too, use at least 6 books in my Dori, and needed augmentation on my Midori systems. Someone out there was willing to accommodate me. It’s not personal, this is business and as such, I have the right to give my money to those who suit my needs best. The concept is great and I’ll always give credit to Midori for that–and to March Penner for getting me started on it–but, at the end of the day, the purchase choice is still mine. Since I can’t even hem my own pants, you bet I’ll pay someone else to make stuff for me.
I think the advent of other TN or fauxdori’s have greatly increased the popularity of having more than one cover. I know a lot of people who do Chic Sparrow but still want to own at least one Midori. Maybe these people would not have bought the original if they didn’t do Chic sparrow first.
That Tony Mo book and wallet combo is to die for! Must go take a look.
Thank you for writing this. I made my own traveler’s notebook, inserts, and pockets thanks to the DIY community out there. I even took some ideas from DIYfish for an insert. The concepts for the notebook and inserts are so simple. The cost of the Midori cover was too much for me and I didn’t like the idea of getting roped into an odd size of insert for something I would, hopefully, be using long term. After making my own I already see room for improvement on the original Midori design – as these other artisans have. These artisans are serving customers Midori wouldn’t have as Midori doesn’t offer many options to the covers or inserts. The other TN creators have take an idea an expanded it and/or made it possible for people in different tax brackets to use. I made my minor cover and inserts for less than $20 (i had many supplies at home).
Well done Julie – you did it your way and made it yours. And as you say, the artisans are taking the original idea and running with it.
I don’t think TC are doing much to guard their brand..
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCPbuLZa3sawM4UOkwyYlu9A/feed video from 3 days ago…
To me it’s similar to the plethora of ring binder brands. Filofax, Franklin Covey, Day-Timer, Gillio, Van der Spek, and loads of other brands: these are all covers that use metal rings to hold in paper pages. One difference with covers that hold booklets with elastics is they are much easier for people to make themselves at home with minimal materials.
That is quite a collection! And the above comment cracks me up. Thanks for sharing your thoughts both to you and Steve M. 😉
Sadly, the ones by Glenda Slann are not mine, but she gave me permission to use the photographs in an article. They are too gorgeous for words!
What fun! Well, it was a great post all the way around. 😉
The earliest reference on the Midori site is October 2011… so we are fauxing the wrong name… if we insist on adding Faux… should it be FauxFADEN TASCHENBEGLEITER may be 😉 but it is a bit of a mouthful!
I think we should insist… by decree!
I find this aversion to not buying the original Travellers Notebook cover quite amusing in a way.
Firstly let us be clear… Midori or The Traveler’s Company can not and have not trademarked the term Traveler’s Notebook… they can’t because it is too generic. What they have trademarked is their logo which includes the words Traveler’s Notebook or similar. I’ve not looked up the latest trademark submission….
OK why… well we all use different brands of pens who was the first inventor of the modern day fountain pen?
If you look at the history of the modern day fountain pen you will see Parker, Waterman and Sheaffer were in close competition in the early 1900’s to improve on earlier designs. Yet we aren’t afraid to use the term ‘Fountain pen’ with any of these brands.
The same can be said for other everyday products like a car… a box with four wheels for transporting you from A to B… We don’t have Faux Model T’s now do we!
Yet the TN community seems to go out of their way to try re-inventing the wheel all the time!
I also find it very hard to believe that Midori was the first person to put an elastic into a notebook cover. There is that one brand (name escapes me now) with metal holders inside and I think they predate Midori.
Was it this one: http://www.roterfaden.de/en/home/
Yes it was! Thank you!!! It would have bothered me all day 🙂
Well they started in 2006, I’m trying to find when Midori started?
In germany where i live are quite famous the X47 and the X17 (same company, two different websites). The company produce Notebook covers and inserts with more than one elastic or with another binding system in metal (I show it during the last Philofaxy meet up). I had a model to review and the quality of the leather is stunning. I understand Steve concerning about the brand name, personally I like to use “Traveler’s notebook by Midori” or “Traveler’s notebook by Van der Spek” terminology. Since in my mind one thing is the company and another is the product.
I like the I understand Steve concerning about the brand name, personally I like to use “Traveler’s notebook by Midori” or “Traveler’s notebook by Van der Spek” terminology.
Wasn’t it X17? That German Brand has been around at least since the eighties, I remember them from my teen years!
Interesting, it may be. They contacted me a while back when I wrote about a local version of their product and I looked at their website then. Their things look gorgeous!
I like the Roterfaden…been walking around it for a while, but they don’t have much option for inserts. And I’m not sure how long the metal clips would last…if they wear out, do you have to buy a whole new binder?