Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

Portland-based publisher Scout Books produces "little books for big ideas."

A love of books inspired Laura and Austin Whipple to create Pinball Publishing in 2002, a creative print studio and small publishing house producing everything from business cards to custom silk screened wooden signage.

Bailey Pilgreen

But the Whipples also sensed a need in the marketplace for affordable and easily customizable notebooks. In late 2008, the duo set out to develop a sustainable product that took full advantage of paper yield and the manufacturing equipment already in the Pinball Publishing shop.

And Scout Books was born.

“The Scout Books product line exists because of our commitment to combine every aspect of production in our own custom developed facility in Portland, Oregon,” Austin Whipple says. “Manufacturing is at the very heart of what we do at Scout Books. We love turning raw materials into good ideas each and every day.”

Everything that Scout Books does — from the designing to the packaging — is done in-house at the company’s headquarters in Southeast Portland. And the books are truly Made in America — everything from the staples to the packaging is sourced in the United States.

A Scout Book is sized like a passport, pairing a sturdy chipboard cover with 32 interior pages folded from a single parent sheet, and finished with two staples and rounded corners for durability. 

The flexible format of the Scout Book is perfect for an array of projects. Scout Books offers two different types of books, a customized book that clients can design themselves and a line of retail-ready books with artistic patterns. The customizable books offer different colors and styles that can be designed for a variety of uses, and both styles of books can be used in a variety of ways, from marketing tools, promotional gifts, and retail gifts to simple notebooks to jot down grocery lists. 

Bailey Pilgreen

The company also offers pre-printed books, including the United States Constitution and short stories by The Brothers Grimm and Oscar Wilde.

Scout Books clients include universities, hotels, and museums, as well as small and large businesses alike, ranging from local coffee shops to Nike and TEDx. The company also regularly teams up with local and internationally known artists to design a variety of new patterns.

“Our team works with camaraderie, creativity and expertise to produce beautiful work for clients all over the world,” Laura Whipple says.

In fact, the company has become so successful that it is now makes up the bulk of Pinball Publishing’s output.

While much of the manufacturing is done at Scout Books headquarters, local ink milling company Great Western Ink hand mixes the ink and delivers it to Scout via messenger bike. The ink is then used with paper sourced from mills throughout the Pacific Northwest and Midwest, and printed using traditional offset lithographic presses.

Scout Books also is committed to reducing waste. The vegetable-based inks used in the books is printed on 100 percent recycled paper, using equipment that is powered by renewable energy.

“We think the magic of integrated manufacturing is key to our continued success,” the Whipples say. “Just hold a Scout Book in your hand, and you’ll feel the difference. We really care and it shows.”

The customizable book is easy to make! You can create your own hereThe retail ready books offer different page styles like lined, dot grids, blank and check-lists. Shop the collections here