Here’s a couple of nice notebooks made in Singapore: the Monologue and Dialogue notebooks by Grandluxe. I first heard of the brand when I stumbled across this post, and was quite intrigued. Though they aren’t sold in the United States, the company was kind enough to send me some free samples for review.
The Monologue notebook is something that at first would be thought of by most people as a “Moleskine clone.” But on closer inspection, it turns out that it’s more similar to another major notebook brand.
The cover is smooth and slightly soft, and you can see the imprint of the elastic. The Monologue branding is stamped at the bottom of the back cover. It’s hard to see in photos, but the cover material has a subtle leather-texture look, printed in tiny dots of darker and lighter tones. To the touch, it is completely smooth.
The notebook is slightly larger than a pocket size Piccadilly notebook, shown below for comparison. The Monologue covers are slightly thicker and stick out a bit more from the pages.
The inside front cover is totally blank, no predetermined space for writing your name.
Inside the back cover, the usual expanding pocket, with cloth sides.
The notebook is a bit stiff at first, but it does lie quite flat:
The lined pages have a fairly broad margin at each side:
How’s the paper? Nice and smooth, but there is a bit of show-through with many of my usual pens, and my Pilot Varsity fountain pen seemed to feather a wee bit. The paper weight is 80gsm.
So, did this notebook remind you of anything? How about the Rhodia Webnotebook? They are uncannily similar in the size and exterior appearance, and even the page layout is the same but for the lack of the Rhodia logo in the corner. When you actually put them side by side, you notice other differences: the Rhodia has colored endpapers and a logo stamped on the front, and is slightly thicker, due to its 90gsm paper. But the 80gsm Webnotebook has pretty much the same dimensions as the Monologue notebook– and pretty similar paper, it seemed to me. Below are some comparison shots to the 90gsm Webnotebook:
From what I’ve been able to determine from other blog reviews, the Monologue is less than half the price of a Moleskine, so I’d expect that it is also quite a bit cheaper than a Rhodia Webnotebook in the Asian markets where it is available. (Grandluxe’s suggested retail price is US$7.10.) The paper isn’t as nice as the 90 gsm Rhodia paper, but it’s pretty comparable to the 80gsm earlier Webnotebook– I don’t think I’d be able to tell the difference, but I can’t vouch for what heavy duty fountain pen users might experience.
Grandluxe also sent me samples of their Dialogue brand. With their horizontal elastic, these might remind you of Ciak’s notebooks, or Piccadilly’s Primo Journals.
Both the small Dialogue notebook and the Monologue notebook say on their labels that they are A6 size, but their measurements are actually quite different! Below is the Dialogue vs. the pocket size Piccadilly notebook. It measures about 4 3/8 x 5 7/8″. The photo below also shows how round the spine of the Dialogue is– it sticks out quite a bit to accomodate the elastic
The elastic is rounded, and fits into a small groove in the side of the cover.
The Dialogue notebook is pretty springy, and doesn’t easily open flat.
The cover itself is thin and quite flexible.
The line spacing and margins are wider than the Monologue notebook, and there’s a small PaperLuxe logo at the bottom right corner of the lined pages. The front of each page is lined, and the back is unlined, which I rather like– two paper styles in one!
This seems to have the same 80 gsm paper as the Monologue notebook, and performed similarly with pens.
I personally am not crazy about sideways elastics so this isn’t a notebook I’d consider for everyday use, but it seems like a good value for the suggested retail price, which is US$6.80.
United States readers might have a hard time buying these notebooks, but the Monologue and Dialogue brands are sold in 30 countries, including:
- Hong Kong
- The Netherlands
Some of the major retailers stocking them include Magrudy’s, Tokyu Hands, Eslite, Metro Books, Paragon Departmental Stores, Loft, Times Bookstore, Chater House, One-Hua Ho Department Store, Urban Write, Harris Bookstores, Kinokuniya, and Takashimaya Department Store.
If you aren’t traveling any time soon and don’t mind paying for international shipping, you can also try ordering from Grandluxe’s webstore. Other colors, sizes and styles are available.