Here’s the stash of notebooks I brought back from my Amsterdam/Paris trip. First, two little notebooks from a local newsstand/bookstore near where I was staying. They had a nice selection of school supplies, and other notebook brands such as Moleskine, but these two were inexpensive and not like others I’d seen elsewhere. The blue one is a basic wire-o memo book, with a textured cardstock cover. The black and red one, only about 2 1/2 x 4″, reminded me of the notebooks that used to be common in Chinatown shops, but it doesn’t say where it was made, and the label mentions a German company.
At P. K. Akkerman in Amsterdam, there was another wide selection of notebooks, but I just bought this chunky little Bindewerk notebook, which has a layer of actual wood veneer on the front and back cover. It’s cute, thought I think the notches running through the top and bottom of each page might get on my nerves. At €14.50, this was pretty pricey, but I didn’t think I could find these in New York. Of course about 2 months after my trip, I did stumble across a store selling these (Goods for the Study).
This small notebook doubles as an art book: blank pages are interspersed with full color paintings by the artist Marlene Dumas, whose retrospective was on exhibit at the Stedelijk museum.
In Paris, I was very excited to find these Clairefontaine notebooks at Marie Tournelle. In the US, you can easily find their notebooks with covers like these, but they are usually in larger sizes, and they never have graph paper! These are the exact Clairefontaine notebook I had always wished I could buy. I’ve always loved Clairefontaine paper, and never understood why it’s so hard to get it in the squared style. Some of their larger plaid covered notebooks have squared pages, but pocket notebooks with the cloth spine never do. But it’s nice to know that they are available in Europe! I was surprised, though, to notice that these notebooks are now perfect-bound. The pages are just glued into the spine, rather than in sewn signatures, which is how these used to be made. I’m not sure when this changed. But the notebooks still open nice and flat. I’ve lost the receipt, but I think these were only about €3 or €4.
This notebook caught my eye in the gift shop at the Centre Pompidou– it’s a small lined booklet inside a cloth cover. Various patterns and colors were available for the covers– I thought the pale green with red stitching looked great. The proceeds from these benefit Memisa, a healthcare organization. It was €9.90.
And finally, this black Moleskine-ish notebook is from the Paris store Merci, and carries their brand on the back. It’s a soft/hardcover hybrid, as the covers aren’t wrapped like most hardcover notebooks, but they are thick and quite stiff. I love the dyed edges, and it’s nice that the pen loop folds down and tucks in if you’re not using it. I don’t plan on using it at all, but I’d be worried I’d lose my pen or pencil if I did, as it’s rather loose. This notebook was €9.90.
Globalization may mean that shopping is more and more generic and it’s harder to find unique things when you travel, but I was happy to find a few new and different notebooks on my trip. I’m always looking for more suggestions for international stationery stores!