Review and Giveaway: Miro Notebooks

Miro has been around for a few years now, but their product lines have evolved since I last reviewed some Miro samples in late 2012. Let’s take a look at another generous assortment of more recent samples sent to me by the company:

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Miro’s hardcover journals at first glance seem very similar to many others on the market, but they do offer some nice variations, including colored page edges and different paper weights as seen below.

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I’ll be taking a close look at the pocket sized black notebook below. One immediate difference jumps out right away– Miro has chosen to make their pocket notebooks in a 3.25 x 5.5″ size, just a bit narrower than then standard size favored by most of the competition. Beyond that, the exterior of the notebook is pretty typical– small logo on the bottom back cover, but there’s also an additional stamped logo on the spine. The spine is a bit more rounded and soft than most Moleskines these days, which are more squared-off. I like the rounder spine, and I think it can tend to be less liable to tear at the corners. The notebook comes with a barcode sticker on the back, but it peeled off easily without leaving any sticky residue. The cover overhang is pretty typical– a bit more than I would like.

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Below, the Miro notebook is shown with a pocket size Moleskine for comparison. The narrower shape makes it a bit more pocketable, though many people may miss the extra writing space.

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Inside, you get a logo and a spot to write your personal details. This example also had a small tear in the front endpaper near the spine– it doesn’t affect the usability of the notebook at all but I was a little surprised it would slip through their quality control. The page layout is rather odd– a gap runs down through the lines near the spine on both sides, one line in the middle of each page is thicker than the others, and the top line of the page is dotted. (When I first reviewed Miro notebooks a couple of years ago, they had various options for plain and squared paper but now it seems that most of their notebooks come in lined only, except for the large size being offered in lined or plain.) But the double ribbon marker is a great feature, and I like that they are a bit thinner than usual.

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The pocket in the back is a bit different from most of the competition. Rather than an expanding pocket that runs the length of the cover, there’s just a small glued-on corner pocket where you can tuck a few things. And really, just a few– it’s a small pocket with a pretty tight little opening. A full sized pocket would have been more practical, and more attractive, as the current design allows the dark color of the cover to show through the endpapers.
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The paper held up pretty well with my usual pens. Show-through and bleed-through were about average– given that I was testing the 100 GSM paper, I would have expected it to perhaps perform even better, but paper weight isn’t everything. Fountain pen users should be very happy, though–both of mine went on smoothly with no bleed-through or feathering.

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I also tested the 90 GSM paper in one of the other notebooks (the larger one in the photos below). It’s definitely different– not quite as smooth, not as creamy a color. Definitely more show-through and bleed-through, though fountain pens still worked nicely. One benefit to the 90 GSM paper is that the fountain pens were totally dry when I swiped my finger across them after 5 seconds of drying time. On the 100 GSM paper, they were still wet and smeared at 5 seconds, taking more like 10 seconds to fully dry.

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I didn’t do a thorough review on the rest of the products, but they’re a nice variety of styles. Cahier-style stitched spine notebooks with chalkboard designs:

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Wooden and felt covered wire-bound notebooks:

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And even a bookmark:
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You can buy these and various other notebooks at the Franklin Mill website. Some are also available on Amazon, and in various local stationery shops, though unfortunately there is no retailer list on the website.

And of course I’m doing a giveaway for a lot of these extra samples! I’ll randomly select 4 winners from entries received in these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Miro Journal @thefranklinmill” and “@NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories and @thefranklinmill.

On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page and the Franklin Mill page and post something containing the words “Miro Journal” on the Notebook Stories wall.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Miro Journal and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday July 25, 2014 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner. Please allow a couple of weeks for me to check all the entries and determine the winners.

Moleskine Monday: The Voyageur Traveller’s Notebook

Here’s a new product from Moleskine that looks kind of cool: The Voyageur Traveller’s Notebook.
When I first saw it, I thought, “Wow, Moleskine’s trying to get a piece of the Midori Traveller’s Notebook action.”
There are lots of differences, but this new Moleskine is brown, which seems to be the most popular Midori color, and has a new trim size of 4×7″, which is smaller than the Midori, but a bit closer to its proportions than the usual Moleskine shape. (They say the size is “designed to store printed emails, itineraries and maps” though I’m not sure why 4×7 was considered the best size for that– a taller size would more easily hold anything printed on letter or legal size paper with just a fold or two.) Beyond that, the similarities are limited. The Moleskine has a cloth cover, which is a first. It comes with sections of different page formats– lined, plain, and dot grid, as well as some travel-themed stickers.

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Find out more at Moleskine’s website. You can also pre-order it on Amazon, with stock due July 23, 2014: Moleskine Voyageur Traveller’s Notebook, Nutmeg Brown, Soft Cover

Notebook Addict of the Week: Dave Chow

Another sketchbook addict! This is quite a box-full!

“This is what four years of sketchbooks look like. It’s 25 lbs. (or just a touch over 11 kilograms for those of you on the metric scale). They’re all 5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ Handbook Journal Company Travelogue Series sketchbooks. In this box, there is 55 individual sketchbooks. Each sketchbook contains about 65 individual images for a grand total of 3575 drawings.”

Read more at Dave Chow Illustrations: Sketchbooks sketchbooks sketchbooks sketchbooks…. Be sure to check out the rest of Dave’s blog for some examples of his very amusing drawings!

Egyptian Notebooks That Look Like Videocassettes!

Fun idea: notebooks that look like old VHS tapes, from an Egyptian brand called Mokfera:

Read more at Mofkera notebooks colourfully combine old and new – Daily News Egypt.

Luferela Notebooks

Some elegant and unusual notebook designs from a Brazilian stationery brand calledLuferela:

 

Giveaway!! Rhodia Ice

No long review today, just a quickie giveaway, courtesy of our friends at Exaclair/ Rhodia! They have just introduced some new pads in a slick new color scheme: white and silver, cool and slick for the summer! I love their classic orange, but this is gorgeous too!

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To enter, leave a comment about what you love about Rhodia notebooks and pads. Make sure you enter your email so I can contact you if you win– addresses won’t be used or shared in any other way. Deadline to enter is Friday July 18 at 11:59pm! Good luck everyone!

From Our Readers

Mike Sheehan shares his excellent sketches documenting the Murrieta immigration protests:
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David is excited that the “Trapper Keeper lives!”.

Renee shares the story of a teacher who is looking for donations of journals for her students. She successfully collected 100 journals for the 2013-2014 school year, and now she needs to do it again! Please help her collect 100 journals by August 18, 2014 by sending a hardcover, lined journal of approximately 150-200 pages (with no references to drugs, sex, religion, etc, so it’s school-appropriate, though you are welcome to write an encouraging message to the student on the first page) to this address:

Alston Middle School
Attn: Ms. Krauklis
500 Bryan Street
Summerville, SC 29483

You can also make a contribution to her page at DonorsChoose.

 

And Alicia shares her own notebook story, about writing in notebooks in unusual places:

“I’m someone that only writes my novels in notebooks. I’ve tried typing them directly into my computer…it doesn’t work for me. My characters’ voices lose all enthusiasm and emotion…some of them even refuse to speak to me at all. There’s just something about a notebook and a pen. 

I have taken notebooks many places. I have written next to rivers, on the beach, on airplanes…but one of my favorites has been when I had a gay bar that I went to regularly with a friend and wrote there pretty regularly too. The first time I took my notebook to the bar with me was on Drag Bingo night. And yes, I went back and forth between my notebook and my bingo cards. I had several people come up to me and ask me if I was working on homework in the bar and I would respond “nope, I’m writing a novel” usually without even looking up. My friend Steven was fascinated by how much attention I got by not paying attention to anything going on around me. He insisted after that first night that I needed to bring my novel notebook with me from then on. I had lots of people ask me how I could write in that environment, but it was actually not hard at all. It’s all the same kind of music and all the same level of loud so it’s quite easy to make into background noise. I often had people ask me if they could read what I was writing. I would look at them with horror on my face and respond “no. No one reads the notebook…no one touches the notebook.” I wouldn’t even leave my notebook unattended on the table to get a drink or use the restroom. I had to know that someone from my party was going to be at the table while I was gone. 
 
Some of my friends recently made me set aside one of my beloved notebooks because it was falling apart. It made me sad because that notebook was the one that I took to that bar…it put up with many spilled drinks and long nights…as well as notes from classes, drawings from friends and even a few phone numbers. But it hasn’t completely gone away…I still have it in a safe place, mostly because it has a large chunk of my third book in my trilogy written in it that I haven’t managed to get typed up yet…it’s just not allowed to go out in public anymore. 
I love my notebooks. They are some of my most precious possessions.”

As always, thank you to everyone who sends in so many wonderful tips, photos and stories!

Notebook Addict of the Week: Steve Prescott

This week, we have another sketchbook addict, fantasy artist Steve Prescott.

Steve says
“These are my SKETCHBOOK sketchbooks. That is to say, I have eight other sketchbooks, larger ones of the same black, hardcover variety but I use them mainly as places for fully realized line drawings that get scanned and go on to become paintings or other finalized illustrations. They do not include all the really fun mindless doodles, free-drawing, and idea-forging that these here have. Thus, I don’t count them as true sketchbooks. Why do I make this distinction, I have no idea. But I do.”

Read more at Prescott Draw-Blog: Sketchbooks Through the Ages.

Famille Summerbelle Map Notebooks

These look cute… I love the intricate designs, which seem to be based on cut paper!

Find out more at Discover our new notebooks! – Famille Summerbelle.

Review: Design.Y Notebooks

I can’t believe it’s taken me over 2 years to review these notebooks. I first heard of Design-Y in early 2012, when they were receiving quite a bit of buzz on fountain pen blogs. If you’re not familiar with this brand, here’s the background: they are handmade in Japan by a Mr. Yoshino. He uses luxurious materials and crafts each notebook to order, with several options for customization. They are not cheap! But are they worth the money? Let’s take a look!

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I seriously splurged and bought 3 notebooks. The small, slim brown one is the “Record 216,” the black one with stained edges is the “Record 288,” and the thick black one is the “LP Record.” (Design Y also offers two other larger sizes.) The first thing I have to tell you about these is something that no review can truly capture: they smell wonderful! The covers are made of real leather, either goatskin or cowhide, and it has a texture and scent that on manmade imitation can match. No icky chemical odors, as some other notebooks can have, but vegans beware, these are not for you!

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The materials in general just have a feeling of quality– the leather looks and feels great, the paper is silky, and they come nicely wrapped and packaged. When you order, you can select the color of leather you want, and for some notebooks, which type of leather, goat or cow. You can also choose whether you want the edges of the paper to be dyed, whether or not you want a ribbon marker or elastic closure, and lined or plain paper. You can select various colors for the bookmark ribbon. The color options are all chosen to look great together, in subtle shades of black, brown, grey and cream. The aesthetics of these notebooks are pretty near perfect as far as I am concerned– I don’t need flashy colors or patterns. The only major thing I think they’re missing is an option for squared paper. When you receive your Design.Y order, it’s a pleasure to open. Here’s some un-boxing shots!

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The construction of the notebooks is classic– sewn signatures inside a hard cover, with rounded corners. A logo is stamped on the back cover, but there is no other branding. The notebooks open fully flat. The ribbon marker is attached in a unique way– rather than being glued inside the spine, it is looped through holes in the spine, leaving a little decorative element on the outside and turning one bookmark into two. The endpapers are plain grey paper. There is no back pocket– instead, on the inside back cover you see the knots of the elastic closure. They are tiny knots that don’t get in the way, and theoretically I guess you could replace the elastic. This is a good thing, as the elastic is very thin and flimsy and seemed like it could easily break if it snagged on something in your bag.

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The covers do overhang the pages a bit more than I’d like, but not terribly, and the corners are beautifully tucked in to a nice, tight roundness. Other than that, the notebooks I received seemed very well made, with careful attention to detail and craftsmanship. One of them was just a teensy bit off being totally square– it’s barely noticeable, and somehow it bothered me less than it might on a mass-produced notebook. When something is handmade, I can understand there being a little human error, vs. the supposed precision of machines. The sizes are not quite standard compared to most other notebooks– shown with a pocket Moleskine for comparison. I like the slim Record 216, which is a great size to slip in a pocket. And the chunky LP Record is very appealing. The Record 288 is pretty close to the size of a Moleskine– I have to confess I wish they had just made it the same standard 3.5 x 5.5″ size Moleskine and many other brands use.

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The paper inside is a creamy white. It is quite thin and feels wonderfully smooth and refined. It’s a pleasure to write on with any pen, and fountain pens do perform nicely on it. However, there is a lot of show-through, though bleed-through is a little better than average compared to other papers this thin. Fountain pens may take a little longer to dry.

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The bottom line here is that you get a nicely customizable, beautifully made notebook that will be a pleasure to behold, and a pleasure to write in, until you turn the page and realize you won’t want to write on both sides! But the sensory delights of Design Y notebooks will cost you quite a bit. The current prices are as follows:

Record 216: 3780 Yen, or approximately $37.03

Record 288: 4935 Yen or approximately $48.35 (including elastic closure, bookmark and dyed edge. Subtract 105 Yen for no bookmark, 105 Yen for no elastic, and 210 Yen for no dyed edge.)

LP Record: 8925 Yen or approximately $87.44 (including bookmark. Subtract 105 Yen for no bookmark, add 105 Yen if you want an elastic closure.)

Shipping from Japan is additional, based on weight. For these three notebooks shipping to the US, it would be about $18.22.

So you’re probably thinking, holy $&%^@, she spent almost $200 for 3 little notebooks. Well, these are the sacrifices I make to review things for you, dear readers! It is a little hard to justify, especially as the notebooks are almost too nice to use. I keep telling myself I should try to use one as a daily notebook, but they seem like they should be used for something special instead. I do love having them– there is something just so wonderful about the craftsmanship and that real leather smell, I have to take them out and fondle them every so often, just to appreciate how beautiful they are compared to cheap, mass-produced notebooks. If you want to have a special notebook in your collection, or give a notebook lover a drool-worthy gift, Design Y will fit the bill!

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