The good people at Whitelines were kind enough to send me some samples for review, so let’s take a look!
First impressions: I like the clean, modern look — the drawing-hand logo is cute and the orange and white color scheme is cheery. The colors won’t appeal to everyone, though: if you have modern decor with lots of Ikea furniture, they’ll blend right in, but if you prefer the aesthetic of a wood-paneled library full of leather-bound books, these notebooks may not be for you!
The cover of each notebook tells you the paper type– lined or squared are your options, as plain pages would be sort of missing the point! The specs also include the size and the carbon footprint of the notebook– this has to be a first! I can’t think of any consumer product I’ve ever bought that was labeled with its carbon footprint. It’s hard to imagine that the carbon footprint of one notebook is significant enough that anyone would want to keep track of it, but it’s a nice idea. The paper weight (80g) and page count are also noted.
The paper is a grey tone– when you look at it closely, you can see that it is printed on the page as a pattern of tiny grey dots, so the white lines drop out, showing the actual color of the paper. The lines don’t extend to the edge of the page. At the bottom of each right-hand page is the Whitelines name. As claimed, the page color does seem easy on the eyes, and the lines seem less disruptive than dark lines of an equal weight would be on light paper. I’m not particularly bothered by faint, thin lines on regular paper, so it’s not like this was a problem I was dying to solve, but having the Whitelines paper in front of me made it seem like a pretty good idea! But again, it’s probably not for everyone– if you tend to just write or draw in one color, it’s fine, but those who prefer different ink colors may find that the grey tone makes things look a bit drab. Here’s some closeups of the paper, against Moleskine plain paper in the second shot:
The images below are scans. They say that the lines aren’t supposed to show up in photocopies or scans, but I found they were slightly visible, especially where the paper wasn’t flat on the glass. You can see the various pens I tested, all of which seemed to work nicely with very little bleed-through, other than with the Super Sharpie. As I scribbled on one of the pages, the line spacing varies according to the size of the notebook: it was approximately 6mm in the smallest notebook, 8mm in the medium sized notebook, and 9mm in the large notebook. The squared line spacing was exactly the same as that of a Moleskine.
In general, the quality of these notebooks seems excellent– they feel well-made and substantial and I didn’t notice any annoying mis-aligned type or crooked binding.
As for the specific notebooks, I was sent four samples: a small lined notebook, a medium-sized wire-o bound lined notebook, a large lined journal, and a large squared saddle-stitched notebook. (A lot of other sizes and styles are available– you can see them all here.) Let’s start with the small notebook, since that’s the size I use most frequently.
This notebook is very similar to a Moleskine Volant– it’s the same thickness and width, but the Whitelines notebook is slightly taller. The cover and binding are rather stiff– it doesn’t open as flat as a Volant, and the cover is creased a little way in from the spine. Once you’ve opened it, it won’t close flat, more so than the Volant.
Here’s the medium size wire-o bound notebook:
Again, a very clean design on the cover. It comes shrinkwrapped, with some info on a vellum sheet and orange page on the inside that you can discard once you’re using the notebook.
I think my favorite of these notebooks was this one, the saddle-stitch squared notebook. It’s quite thin and very flexible, so it lies flat when opened. It reminds me of those blue composition books we used to use in school. I could see myself going through a stack of these, using them for notes on different projects at my job, or for writing workshops.
And finally, the large hardcover journal:
Again a clean cover design with a removable info sheet under the shrinkwrap on the back. This time, the orange pages inside are the endpapers, and there’s a matching orange ribbon marker. Very cool.
Bottom line: I think these notebooks are very nice, though as noted above, they won’t be for everyone. If you are a writer or perhaps an architect or designer who does a lot of line drawings and diagrams, you may love these. If you prefer a more retro look, or tend to use a lot of color and collage elements in your notebooks, these might not be up your alley. But they are definitely a nicely-designed quality product, with the unique attribute of telling you their carbon footprint.
In New York, you can buy Whitelines notebooks at Paper Access on West 18th Street, and Kate’s Paperie at various locations. You can also buy Whitelines notebooks at Amazon. But if you’d like to try one for free, why not enter the first-ever Notebook Stories giveaway! I’m keeping the small notebook and the squared saddle-stitch one for myself, but I’m giving away the medium size wire-o and the hardcover journal– they are no longer shrink-wrapped, but they are otherwise in mint condition. I will pick two random entries, and each winner will get one of the notebooks. If you have a preference for a particular format, please say so but I can’t guarantee which one you’ll receive.
Here’s how to enter:
1) Send an email to email@example.com with your name and mailing address. This counts as one entry.
2) If you have a blog, write a post linking back to this contest, dated no later than Tuesday April 28th. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, mailing address and the link to your post. This counts as two entries.
ALL EMAILS MUST BE RECEIVED BY 11:59PM on THURSDAY APRIL 30TH! After that, the contest is closed and I will no longer accept any new entries. I will announce the winners the following week. Good luck!