Ex Libris Anonymous Jacob Deatherage

Jacob Deatherage working at his shop, Ex Libris Anonymous, in Astoria. 

When Jacob Deatherage was living in Seattle in 1999 and working as a book dealer, the businessman Paul Allen gave him $5,000 to leave the apartment he was living in after Allen bought the building.

This became the genesis of Deatherage’s now nearly 20-year-old business, Ex Libris Anonymous, where he makes custom-made journals from recycled vintage books.

The shop, located at 1191 Marine Drive, sits in the former space of Thompson’s Instrument Repair and has been open since spring 2019.

With colorful, hardcover books from diverse topics such as “Life in Europe: Italy” to “Guide to Modern English,” and beloved Dr. Seuss books, customers can select the book they want made into a journal. Deatherage finds many of the books at garage sales he goes to. Deatherage saves the cover and a few pages from the book before adding in white paper and a plastic coil to hold the journal together. The journals cost $14 and can also be ordered online at www.bookjournals.com.

The space features a giant bookshelf visible from the street that reaches from floor to ceiling. Deatherage’s corgi, Crumpton, greets visitors from his perch on the couch when they come in.

Deatherage, an admitted book enthusiast, said he likes the process of making the journals and talking with customers.

“I like it when it clicks with somebody and they interact with the collection. It’s really fun to see people find something that gives them a little bit of joy, you know? What I like are people. I really like to hear people’s stories and find out what they’re about. So I think of the books as a way sort of getting some insight and that personal kind of relationship with people even briefly.”

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