Does Anyone Still Use Paper Address Books?

Address book


(Pictured above: Hallmark Address BookLeuchtturm Pen & Pencil LoopUS Mail StampG. Lalo notecard and Letter Ledger)

This may seem like an arcane topic in 2013 but I think paper address books are still handy and, that if you don’t have one, its not a bad idea to start one.

Why? Digital data can get corrupted, lost, or inaccessible due to disaster (natural or otherwise) so having all your really important contact information in a paper form can prove hugely useful in a time of crisis (be it hard drive failure, mobile phone loss or power outage).

A paper address book can also be a repository for shared contacts like Great Aunt Sally, the family physician and even your alarm company and credit card 800 numbers. It seems antiquated but sometimes the safest place to store sensitive data is in a book on your shelf. After having my house broken into twice, calling all those credit card companies and banks was easier because a lot of the info was in my address book and/or planner.

When traveling, its nice to keep a small address book so that you can send postcards to folks without having to find an Internet connection.

If, God forbid, anything untoward happened to you, a paper address book would be an easy place for a spouse or loved one to start to access your accounts and contacting people. Think of it as an ICE (in case of emergency) file or as my friend Chery darkly calls hers ICID (in case I die).

I find that addressing Christmas cards is a perfect time to review my paper address book and make sure that all my friends and family addresses are up to date. I also update phone numbers and email addresses. Then, when I sit down to handwrite addresses, I don’t have to have my computer open. I can have a quiet, tech-free afternoon handwriting my cards.

So, where can you find a paper address book these days?

  • Moleskine has an address book option. European Paper carries an large (A5) and pocket (A6) version. They have die cut alphabet tabs and lined paper so you can write long or short entries for your contacts. More sizes and color options are available directly through Moleskine including itty bitty volant (2.5″x4″) versions with flexible covers.
  • Paperblanks offers address books in their three most popular sizes: mini (4″x5.5″), midi (5″x7″) and ultra (7″x9″). The address books use the same ivory stock as their other products with lines for contact information and die cut “thumb cuts” to make finding your page easy. Love Notebooks is the best place to order a Paperblanks address book online.
  • Leuchtturm 1917 offers a medium, pocket and mini address book  (about the same size and materials as the Moleskine offerings). The Leuchtturm1917 mini pocket address book seems quite popular but I did not have any luck finding any for sale online except at Cult Pens. Yeah for the UK readers!

Rolodex Green

  • My husband recommends an old school Rolodex for business contacts. He makes dozens of phone calls a day and can slide business cards into plastic sleeves without having to die cut cards or transpose information. While not pocketable, its a great way to keep keep information handy.
  • I use a small address book I picked up in the Hallmark Gold Crown Store. It has a light blue, leatherette cover and measures about 6.5″x3.25″ with pale blue lines inside. There isn’t much room to write full addresses but I make do. When a contact has moved, I just put a line through the listing and add a new one to the next available spot.  Business cards get pasted into the divider tabs. Hallmark does still stock address books regularly including the ring binder style and replacement pages (plugging the firm!).

Do you use a paper address book? Do you have a favorite?


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16 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I have a red silk Moleskine address book from several years ago that I use currently. The elastic is shot, and it’s getting full of an alarming number of entries for folks who are no longer among the living. But I haven’t been able to bring myself to replace it yet.

    1. I like having those entries. It’s a touching way to remember those who’ve passed. After I wrote the article, we went through my husband’s grandmother’s address book. It was fascinating to see all the names and to see how her handwriting changed as she got older. Still an elegant hand but she wrote much larger and her hand shook a bit.

      1. It reminds me of the opening sequence of AMELIE, where the man erases his best friend from his address book after he dies. I don’t do that, but I make some kind of note. The failure of the elastic bothers me (!), but I might just cut it off. 🙂

  2. At home it is electronic because that is just too easy. At work, I’m still old school with a couple of index card boxes stuffed with business cards and scraps of paper and my system is augmented by a calendar with lots of numbers scribbled on it. I like that rolodex idea of your husbands.

    1. I’m the husband – I also use Apple’s Contacts to keep a ton of pertinent info (email links/etc.,) but the Rolodex is always on hand and within reach. If I have a person’s card I want to lend/give to a client, I can hand it to them right then and there. As one of the things I do in my letterpress shop is to CREATE business cards, it’s always nice to see what other people are doing and making. And often I find people are too embarrassed to give me their biz cards as the letterpress ones are so nice. : )

      But yes, the Rolodex takes a few seconds to zip through; it’s analog and very satisfying to spin. Also, you can markup the cards on the fly. Yes, you can do this electronically, but I have to say, there’s something more satisfying when physically throwing away an old card than simply hitting ‘delete’. And seeing a person’s card triggers a lot of memories and thoughts associated with a person/company, rather than an electronic database.

      On a side note, when my grandmother passed away, the only thing I really wanted was her old address books. They’re all paper, and FILLED with her penmanship; and it’s humbling and bittersweet to see her Penman School’s classically trained handwriting slowly evolve into a sweet old grandma’s large handwriting. There’s so much history there about her as a businesswoman that I find immensely inspiring.

  3. I have an old address book with a nice leather cover and a place for a notepad.I bought a cheap one at Target, after searching everywhere else, and then I found this one in a storage box. I write the addresses in pencil in case they move so I can erase them when I need to. Mine had a lot of old addresses of people I now longer care to keep in touch with, but they erased nicely.

  4. So perfect…I literally just got my first paper address book (a smallish Moleskine) in a long time to copy all of my contacts from “electronicle” to “back-pocketable.” You just never know when something is going to quit these days, and I cannot be stuck without folks’ addresses to write!! Of course, now I’m gonna have to check out this turquoise one…. Hello! Paper addict!!

  5. I love my Midori Travelers notebook. Since my calenader changes year to year, my second notebook insert is a graph paper one which I have made my address book as well as a section for important dates like Anniverseries and birthdays.
    I would recommend the Traveler’s notebook for anyone who wants the ultimate customization for an every day carry notebook. I love mine!

  6. Yeap….a small a-z clairefontaine address book that I only keep at home off all electronic devices. .It has all of my passwords, logon codes, home addresses, bd, in a-z order. can never remember them but this address book has it all in pencil too!

  7. I love the idea as a chance to use my pens and paper to create such a permanent record but I’m afraid my brain wiring (OCD, AR, etc) would drive me crazy to have to cross so many out with changes and not being able to insert a new address to keep alphabetical order. Arrggghhh…ok maybe I will try it

  8. I too find the old-fashioned address book as essential as what I have online. I have used the Levenger company’s Circa address book for years (you can find the company online). You insert little cards on a ‘circa’ ring system which means that you can switch out cards, alphabetize them, etc. It’s like a rolodex but flat like an address book When I got mine you could customize it with a leather binder, mine is blue leather. I wish I’d bought the little travel binder into which you could slip the address cards you wanted to take with you on vacation. As I was recently looking to see how to get more replacement cards, I noticed that Levenger still has the address book (it’s called address book junior) and replacement cards but none of the fancy accessories any more.

  9. I used to be a big fan but have lately tried to go a bit more modern… I’m now addicted to two solutions:
    – Moleskine’s Neo smartpen ( – which is finally really good at recording everything I write, OCR it and make all my scribbles and notes searchable from their app

    The Covve app ( which brings a whole new level of intelligence to my contacts and how I manage professional relationships

    Just my two pence…

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