Review: Doane Paper Notebooks

What nice people they are over there at Doane Paper… I’ve been intrigued by their products for a while but hadn’t gotten to the point of buying anything, mainly because you had to buy a set of 3 Utility Notebooks and I just wanted to try one… but by a happy coincidence, I was able to do a trade for the ones I didn’t need, so I finally placed my order. As far as I can remember, I in no way identified myself or associated that order with this blog, which is what makes it even more amazing that after paying $9.50 plus shipping for a set of Utility Notebooks, I received a pack of A4 pads, a pack of small pads, a large wire-o bound Idea Book and a copy of Squares, Checks, and Grids (Communicating with Pattern), a book in which Doane Paper was featured, all as free extras! Now that’s a nice way to win some customer loyalty! And since I’m writing this review, they’re getting some publicity out of it too.
Here’s the front and back covers of the utility notebook. You notice right away that this is a very nicely made product. They just care about design and quality– everything is straight and sharp and tight, somehow.

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Look at the spine below– even the staples seem perfectly spaced.

Inside, the grid/line paper is carefully aligned with the edges, nothing askew.

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It’s very nice paper to write on– not quite as smooth as Clairefontaine paper, but it worked beautifully with all my rollerball pens. Show-through wasn’t too bad, though a few pens did bleed through a bit. I understand that an earlier run of these notebooks was made with heavier paper, which I’m kind of sorry I missed.

The grid+line concept is handy, but in using one of the larger Doane Paper pads to take notes in meetings at work, I found that the line spacing was a bit too big for me– I tend to write pretty small, and as you can see below, my natural line spacing doesn’t seem to quite jive with the Doane Paper lines. I might have preferred having a line to every 2 grid boxes instead of every 3.

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I also loved the Idea Book they threw in. It’s a nice size, and has very sturdy, thick cardboard covers, which overhang the edges of the paper a bit. This is pretty much the perfect large wirebound notebook, as far as I’m concerned, notwithstanding the line spacing issues I mentioned above, though I have to say it seems a wee bit pricey at $10.95.

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Again everything seems nice and square. It’s just a nice, simple notebook, just well-made.

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There is one sheet of plain paper inside the back cover.

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My only complaint about these notebooks is that the Doane branding seems very blatant, particularly on the Utility Notebooks– I don’t blame them for wanting to get their name out there, but I wish it was less conspicuous. I think I just feel a bit self-conscious carrying around a product that tells the world that I am a big geek who cares SO much about what I jot my notes in that I have to buy some obscure, high-concept product because regular old notebooks just aren’t good enough for me– I’m not saying this isn’t true, but I don’t want to advertise it that much!

But that said, I really love the quality of these products, and it’s nice to know you can support a small business who cares so much about doing what they do well, not to mention having fabulous customer service.

To order Doane Paper products, visit their online store page.

Utility Notebooks, 3.5 x 5.5″, $9.50 for a set of 3, available in black as shown or in traffic light colors.

Idea Journal, 8.375 x 10.875″, $10.95 each. Also available in 5.25 x 6.875″ size for $8.95.

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One Response to “Review: Doane Paper Notebooks”

  1. You put it really well… such a geek that you go out and buy high-concept paper with branding all over it.

    Better that the branding be on the inside, and leave the front for your own notes, title, etc. Even Moleskine’s got this right.

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