I know it seems like a ridiculous thing to spend money on but I only properly bound sketchbooks now.
This cost me $30 from eBay including postage and has about 400 blank, cream coloured pages of nice texture.
The reason I use bound books isn’t just because they look amazing (which they do), but because I carry my sketchbook with me literally everywhere I go.
When I buy a new bag, the first and most important thing I look for is if it will fit my sketchbook in.
Bound books tend to last longer than spiral ones when you carry them everywhere, and are much more difficult to damage (spirals bend and the wire becomes scratchy, and the covers on a bound book are hard enough to protect the innards), or tear pages from.
I never take out pages from my books because I don’t do finished work in them. They are for sketches, plans, value studies and client maps. Finished work is done on whatever medium is best for it, watercolor paper, canvas, board, skin etc.
They also work as a running folio of examples and I’ve made a fair amount of sales from ‘I was thinking of doing something like this/do you want to claim this sketch’ of abandoned old drawings.
My last book lasted me over a year and a half and cost me $25. I have about 10 pages left in it and it’s only now starting to fray at the bindings.
This one will last me at least a year.
Whereas with a regular sketch pad, I would go through at least ten in a year and not finish any of them as they became to damaged to continue using.
So yeah, they’re hard to find and more expensive, but I’ve found they end up saving me more money in the end and if you use your books like I do, I highly recommend them.
Just make sure the texture of the paper is enough to draw on. The paperblanks brand of books are too shiny to hold graphite so I would avoid them if you’re a pencil person.