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Blog: Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles
Paper Doll Organizing Carnival: The Readers and Writers Edition

It's time again to round up the quixotic and intriguing paper-related issues, products and ideas that have popped up while we've been having other discussions.


As loyal readers know, the subject of the future of paper is always dear to me. I was delighted to read the following tweet from technology expert (and my college friend) Ross Rubin:

Saturday's New York Times piece, In Defense of the Power of Paper by Phyllis Korkki, elaborated on this point. I encourage you to read the column and share your your thoughts.

I agree with the statements regarding the unique role paper plays in organizing our time and thoughts. I was particularly taken with Levenger CEO Steve Leveen's statement that "digital technology is better for socializing and sharing, while paper is best for quiet contemplation."

Beyond that, while I acknowledge the improvement of screen technology, especially in light of the iPad and Kindle, I still think the findings of the referenced (and now ancient) 1997 study, are valid regarding the theory that comprehension of paper text is superior to that which is read digitally or online.

Perhaps there is a generational chasm, but I find my attention span, and therefore my intellectual involvement, in any long-form text diminishes when I read it electronically vs. on paper. My brain, and my eyes, tire after half an hour perusing my Kindle, while I can read the same content (say, a Jane Austen novel) for hours on end from a well-thumbed paperback without distraction or ennui. Carrying thousands of books in my Kindle organizes my book collection, but it also seems to clutter my cognitive capacity.

Readers, what do you think?


In August, we talked about the romance of postal mail and sending letters and postcards. So, I was understandably delighted when the incomparable Jeri Dansky called my attention to a Swiss Miss design post about The Letter Ledger from Paper & Type.

The 5 1/4" x 7" wire-bound ledger is designed to organize information related to incoming & outgoing correspondence, similar to previously-discussed organized tracking of books read, movies viewed and fortune cookie fortunes acquired.

Inside the Kraft cover page, the ledger includes 42 pages of white writing paper (enough for more than 500 entries) printed with category headings. Affixed to the inside front cover is a small envelope to hold postage of varying denominations (because you don't want to overpay for postcards!) and the rear inside cover serves as an address book for your most beloved correspondence. Log the dates you received or sent mail and the highlights, or note the essentials of your reply and even which stationery you used to send your response. Jane Austen would approve.

This old-world ledger fascinates Paper Doll, a devotee of all-things-John-Adams, as such ledgers for tracking correspondence are described in his various biographies. (If you've never read the letters between John and Abigail, I assure you, they're eye-openers for examining late 18th and early 19th century gender equality!)

The Letter Ledger retails for $18.

Of course, if your tastes are more sleek and modern, perhaps you'd be intrigued by the Moleskine Black Line.

The Black Line is an all-black collection, featuring black-bound notebooks, with black-leaved pages for journaling, writing letters, organizing and collecting photos and postcards, and more. It's dark and gothic (or at least goth), and yet elegant, likely to satisfy both Serious Artistes and college sophomores listening to Morrissey on auto-repeat.

The collection includes a line of fluorescent gel pens and pencils to ensure that anything you write will pop off the page instead of lurking in the inky blackness.


During the summer, we're often content to let one day flow into the next, but as the weather turns brisk (which gee, I hope it will do soon), planning our hours, days, weeks and months takes on greater importance. Thanks go out to Dr. Joe Stirt of Book Of Joe for introducing me to the Monthly Sticky Note.

This nifty little minimalist planner from Mochi Things measures 2.8" x 5.9" with fifteen adhesive-backed calendar-blocked pages to a pad. The to-be-planned week starts on a Monday, with Saturday and Sunday hanging out at the far right of the page, which may confuse some users. Circle a number in the upper left corner to reflect the month of the year, and add in your own dates. Yes, it's a little DIY, but each pad is only $1.95.

If your days are too jammed to maintain only a monthly view, Mochi Things has a Daily Sticky Note pad measuring 5.8" x 1 1/2". With a bigger area of space on which to write and adhesive placed throughout the middle of the note to maximize positioning options, the daily version is appealing. However, I'm not sure I understand why the red section opposite the blue "Today" area is marked "Yesterday" unless the notes also yield a Dr. Who-level power of time travel. In which case, $4.95 per pad goes from being an average value to quite an excellent one.


For true book lovers, it's hard to ever imagine that books could constitute clutter, but sometimes our passion for books may exceed the space in which we can store them. To limit the clutter, we've had a six-part series on keeping book excess to a minimum through book renting, trading, and borrowing, and by embracing technology.

However, even when book space is limited, vertical space can show off a passion for literature.

Postertext bills itself as creating "book posters for reading enthusiasts" and delivers on its promise in two ways. Postertext's amazing collection of posters visually represent famous literary scenes in black-and-white "sketches." However, when you get close, you see that the artistry is actually made up of miniaturized portions of text from the books. Using the concept of negative space, the design is made up of white space, surrounded by the oh-so-tiny text.

Bronte's Wuthering Heights, ©Postertext

In Postertext's words:

With our book posters, you can literally hang your favorite book on the wall with the book's text, arranged to depict a memorable scene from the book. Our posters are printed on luscious satin-finish paper and are available in common frame dimensions, giving you the freedom to immortalize your poster in a wide variety of styles should you choose to frame them (and we recommend that you do!).

The FAQ page states that the text is large enough to be legible for someone with "normal eyesight," but given that some tomes are epic in length as well as scope, the entire text of most books will not fit on a poster. The Adventure of Tom Sawyer's poster contains the entire book, while Moby Dick includes only 26 chapters. (Maybe if we could all agree that Melville might easily have excised the chapters on the history of whaling, more than just posters could be improved.)

Postertext focuses on ancient to "contemporary" classic literature, from The Iliad and The Odyssey, to Great Expectations and A Tale of Two Cities, to The Great Gatsby. Women authors are well represented, and you can find Pride and Prejudice, Little Women, Jane Eyre and Anne of Green Gables among the collections. Science fiction and fantasy fans have also not been ignored, as The Metamorphosis, Flatland, Frankenstein, The Time Machine and Peter Pan are all available.

Postertext only accepts Canadian currency, so be prepared to have your credit card payment automatically converted. Postertext ships to the U.S., the UK and various locales in Europe and Asia. (Check the FAQ.) The posters range from $32-35 (plus shipping), Canadian.

For something even more upscale and personalized, there's Ideal Bookshelf. Artist Jane Mount will custom-create a painting depicting the books on your own (actual or fantasy) bookshelf. A custom painting for up to ten book spines is $310 for a creation that is either 9" x 12", 10" x 14", or 13" x 19" (unframed). Fifteen books on a 10" x 14" or 13" x 19" (unframed) masterpiece will run you $380. If your literary appetite is voracious, pick up to twenty books for $460 for a piece that is 10" x 14" or 13" x 19" (unframed). (Shipping is extra.)

You send photos of your books spines, and Mount takes 4-6 weeks to design a painting to reflect your reading tastes. If you don't actually own the books, Mount can use photos from her collection, or track down your titles for an additional fee. The site notes that the customized creations are original gouache & ink paintings on Fabriano hot press paper. (Paper Doll has no idea what that means, but it sounds luxurious!)

For those of us not quite ready to be full-fledged patrons of the arts, Mount sells prints of a dazzling array of authorial collections in various sizes (5 1/2" x 7 1/2", 8 x 10", 11" x 14", or 16" x 20" (unframed)) for $28, plus shipping. Bookshelf designs are wide-ranging, from topic-specific (cooking, fashion) to author-specific to magnificent and creative themes. The children's classics bookshelf would be ideal (no pun intended) for a baby shower gift.

I have my eye on one of two Jane Austen collections, which are both far more visually appealing than my mismatched stockpile of Penguin and Signet paperbacks.

©Ideal Bookshelf, Jane Mount

Ideal Bookshelf also sells themed note cards (based on the same variety of prints), and a book of Mount's work, My Ideal Bookshelf, edited by Thessaly La Force, goes on sale in November. In it, leading cultural figures (including Alice Waters, Malcolm Gladwell, Michael Chabon, Alice Waters, James Patterson, Judd Apatow, Nancy Pearl, Patti Smith and Dave Eggers) share the books that that defined their dreams and ambitions. (It's available for pre-order.)

As we journey towards autumn, the season of crisp new notebooks and pre-holiday catalogs, Paper Doll encourages you to use paper responsibly.

posted on: 9/11/2012 10:30:00 AM by Julie Bestry
category: Paper

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Paper Doll, Tackling The Stacks And Piles

by Julie Bestry

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Julie Bestry, President of Best Results Organizing in Chattanooga, TN, is a Certified Professional Organizer®, speaker and author. Julie helps overwhelmed individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems.

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