I suppose for the sake of efficiency and accuracy in reporting crime, electronic record-keeping may be a good idea. But that old fashioned notebook looks nice!
“I recently discovered Leuchtturm journals and really like the soft cover pocket versions. Can’t get enough of the white lined ones!You can find more photos on my personal blog: http://oliarebellion.blogspot.
Thanks for sharing your addiction, Olia!
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On my “to-do” list for this blog has been a comparison of various notebooks in similar styles. I thought I’d do a post about softcover notebooks, and one about single-signature notebooks, similar to Field Notes and Moleskine Cahiers. So I went rooting around in my collection to find various examples of these styles, but the results were a bit daunting:
Not only did I find a rather large number of notebooks, I discovered that there’s kind of grey area between these two styles, so I ended up arranging them in a sort of continuum of variations, from thicker softcover notebooks, through thinner squared-spine ones, to the thinnest single-signature ones with stitched or stapled bindings.
From left, we have the “The II” notebook bought at Kinokuniya, red Piccadilly notebook, softcover Piccadilly notebook, white Conceptum notebook from Germany, Zequenz notebook, Leonardo pocket journal from Papyrus, Fabio Ricci notebook bought in Turkey, Soundless Soliloquy notebook from Etsy, a notebook bought in a museum shop in Portugal, Book Factory pocket notebook, Rendr sketchbook, Canson XL sketchbook, Daler Rowney Ivory sketchbook, Pocket Dept notebook, Rhodia Unlimited notebook, yellow graph paper notebook with green cloth spine from Turkey, Federal Supply Memorandum book, Moleskine Volant, Rite in the Rain waterproof notebook, Clairefontaine notebook from the early 1990s, slipcased German notebook and pencil from Carmen, another old Clairefontaine notebook, a more recent Clairefontaine notebook, Moleskine Cahier, Banditapple Carnet, Miro journals, fluorescent Field Notes given to me by a reader, white notebook from Deyrolle in Paris, Kikkerland Writersblok notebook, Moleskine Cahier decorated by me with stamps, Noted graph paper notebook from Target, Filou notebook bought in Turkey, Northern Central Co. Memorandum book from the late ’70s/early ’80s, Ink Journal, polkadot notebook from Portugal, black school quaderno from Vickerey, white promotional notebook from brandbook.de, (at this point the order gets scrambled in some of the later photos) black Doane Paper Utility Notebook, pale green Bound Custom Journal Memo, HitList notebook, OrangeArt Tattersall notebook, Artescrita 4-pack from Portugal, boxed Calepino notebooks, Word. notebook, Halaby Aero Flightbook, and Hahnemuhle Travel Booklets. Whew! I thought I had also included one other little graph paper stapled notebook that I bought in Portugal, but I can’t spot it in the photos– maybe it’s buried under there somewhere!
And of course this isn’t even all the softcover notebooks in my collection. It’s also worth noting that of all these notebooks, the only ones that have actually been used even partially (other than pen tests for reviews) are the two old black/grey Clairefontaine notebooks and the Northern Central Memorandum book. I have other Moleskine Volant and Kikkerland Writersblok notebooks that I have used, but they weren’t the ones in these photos. I will probably use some of the graph paper and plain paper notebooks in the future. I ended up feeling like it was impossible to compare and contrast the features of so many different notebooks, but almost all of them have been photographed and described in more detail in other posts on this site already.
What’s your favorite softcover notebook?
I came across some really interesting work by an artist called Julien “Seth” Malland. He seems to have done graffiti art in Paris, as well as other paintings and collages in notebooks, such as the one below. It looks like an old ledger, which he’s partially covered and painted over, incorporating the old handwriting into his art:
See more at | GLOBEPAINTER | Carnets.
I purchased this sketchbook at Lee’s Art Shop in NYC (which is always worth a visit if you’re in town). I was attracted by the size and shape, as you don’t see that many slim softcover sketchbooks that are truly pocketable. This one certainly is– it’s flexible enough to keep in a back pocket but the covers seem substantial enough not to get too beat up. It could be described as looking like a thicker version of a Moleskine Volant. Shown below next to a pocket hardcover Moleskine for comparison– it’s a bit smaller and thinner.
It’s very basic– no elastic, no pocket, no ribbon marker. Once you peel the sticker off the front cover (which seems like it will peel cleanly), it is plain black and free of any branding inside or out, except for the gold-stamped brand on the back cover (which looks a bit cheap, somehow).
Inside the paper is smooth and creamy– not so different from Moleskine paper in feel, though it is said to be 90 GSM. All the pages are perforated, but the notebook really doesn’t open flat. I guess it’s no loss, in a way, as you won’t want to draw into the gutter when the pages are perforated.
The smooth paper feels great with fine point pens, and fountain pens work nicely except for taking a bit longer to dry (still smearing at about 10-15 seconds). But show-through and bleed-through performance was not so great.
So I’m left wondering who this sketchbook is for? If you want to just scribble some little sketches on the go with fine pens or pencils and then tear them out to use elsewhere, I guess this will fit the bill. But otherwise, I’m not sure it really provides any advantages over other notebooks and sketchbooks on the market. The list price for this sketchbook is $10.90, and I think that is about what I paid at Lee’s. Blick has it for $6.99, which seems like a better value. Other sizes are also available.
It’s always interesting to see what new products pop up on Amazon for the coming year. There are quite a few “Chapters Journals” in various colors and sizes– unusual ones for Moleskine, such as 3.75 x7,” 3 x 5.5,” and 4.5 x 8.25.” The colors include “old rose,” “tawny olive,” and “plum purple.” There are no photos yet, and no descriptive info. The format says “diary,” but they don’t seem to be dated. All are soft cover, and page format options seem to just be dotted and ruled. Will these be something book-related? Intriguing…
There are also new collections of notebooks with Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Batman themes.
I was thinking that what Moleskine really should create is a daily planner specifically for art journalers. The Hobonichi Techo shows there’s a demand for a daily planner with a more free-form page. Moleskine’s own daily planner in the extra-small size comes with unlined pages, making it perfect for daily drawings, but a bit small. I was all excited when I first saw that, as I thought they’d changed the design of all the daily planners to having unlined pages, but it’s only that size– I guess they thought the lines made the extra small page too busy. If they made a pocket size and large size daily planner with unlined pages and slightly heavier paper that doesn’t bleed as much, I think a lot of people would embrace them for daily art journaling. People like Kathrin Jebsen-Marwedel have made a name for themselves doing daily artwork in Moleskine planners over many years, but lately she’s been complaining about the severe decline in paper quality. She points out that she’s never expected Moleskine paper to be perfect for all media, but their planners used to be able to hold up to watercolor and now they don’t:
I don’t know if the lines bother her, but I think a plain, unlined day-per-page art journal would be a widely popular product if the paper was either the heavier weight sketchbook paper, or at least a version of their thin paper that was more in line with the quality of prior years. Would you buy one? Do you know of other planners with an unlined daily page layout?
This week’s addict is on Twitter as @Thriftygal, but it doesn’t look like she’s all that thrifty when it comes to buying notebooks! Look at this glorious mess! I spy a Star Wars Moleskine and a Penguin notebook and lots of other unidentified notebooks. I love the way they’ve taken over her entire table!
Thanks for sharing your addiction, Tracey!
I guess I’m lucky that my notebook addiction has never tended to focus itself too much on truly high-end, luxury notebooks like this gorgeous Hermès notebook cover made of ostrich leather. I’ve occasionally coveted such things, and who wouldn’t! But at $1,000 new, or $100-200 used (if you’re lucky enough to find one), plus the cost of refills at $35 each, an addiction to this kind of notebook could bankrupt most people pretty quickly! I wouldn’t mind having one of these, though– the system for attaching the notebook to the cover is rather clever, and the leather must feel great.
From what I can see on the Hermes website, they don’t sell this kind of notebook cover anymore, and the notebooks they offer now, while “only” about $500 and up, don’t tempt me at all! They still sell the refills for this notebook, though.
The Sketch & Draw notebook is another Art Alternatives product that I picked up at Blick. These are inexpensive sketchbooks with toothier paper, similar to what’s found in the Hahnemuhle and HandBook sketchbooks, but not quite as thick.
The first thing that really sticks out about this brand is the placement of the elastic closure, which is tucked rather jauntily around the upper right corner on the diagonal. It’s not something you see on many other notebooks, and I think people’s opinions will be divided on it. I fall in the camp of not liking it, ultimately. It looks kind of nice from the front, but the back of the notebook looks kind of weird. It also seems as though it may twist the notebook a bit, so it’s not quite square. I do like the lime green color they picked, and the matching ribbon marker is a nice touch. Overall, it’s almost exactly the same size as a pocket Moleskine, but slightly thicker.
The exterior of the notebook is otherwise pretty typical– plain black, slight faux-leather texture, and brand name stamped on the bottom of the back cover. The cover overhang is a little more than I’d prefer. The spine has headbands at the top and bottom, but they are a bit too short to cover the whole spine width. Not sure why they bothered with this purely decorative detail without making them fit a little better! One other thing I noticed is that the spine feels a bit loose, which could be good for those who like to paste a lot into their sketchbooks– there’s some space to expand.
Inside the notebook there is no branding, just plain white endpapers. The pages lie nicely flat. There is an expanding pocket in the back with cloth sides.
The paper in this notebook, as noted already, is a bit rougher in texture, with a tooth that gives a nice feel to pencil or charcoal drawings. The packaging indicates that it is 110 GSM, but it feels lighter, somehow. Show-through and bleed-through were worse than I expected for this paper weight. The tooth makes it a bit rough for fine point pens, and my Zebra extra-fine brush pen really felt dry and scratchy on this paper. Pencil, charcoal, and thicker pens and markers are more the way to go in this sketchbook. Watercolor also seemed to work fine, without too much buckling or deterioration of the paper from light washes. The colors look flat and even but bright.
The show-through in the paper and the angled elastic make this a less than ideal sketchbook for me, but I think I could happily dedicate it to pencil drawings and collages, so it’s in my “to use someday” pile despite those complaints. These are available in portrait and landscape formats, and a couple of different colors for the elastic and ribbon. They’re $7.49 at Blick, which seems like a good value for a well-made little sketchbook, even if the paper isn’t perfect.