I know I should probably show a little more love to Field Notes brand notebooks. Lots of notebook fans seem to adore them, and it’s very admirable that they’re designed and made here in the good old US of A. And it’s nice that their aesthetic celebrates a bygone era of promotional memo books used by farmers. But their aesthetic is what sometimes makes me say, enough already! Can’t you just make a nice, plain notebook that isn’t so self-consciously “about” its own design?
It’s an interesting era to be selling notebooks: Moleskine’s marketing was the first to up the ante, and other brands like Ecosystem have jumped on the bandwagon with over-the-top marketing. Field Notes has done lots of interesting things to expand their brand and encourage collectors to make frequent purchases: limited editions in beautiful colors, add-on products like pens and pencils, and now County Fair notebooks for each of the 50 states, available in 3-packs with a red, yellow and blue for a single state, or 1 per state all collected in a $99 box set: From AL to WY and Everything In Between.
Other field trips have included such hotbeds of authentic agricultural Americana as Brooklyn and Manhattan (NYC, not Kansas), where I’m sure the presence of hipsters hawking expensive, design-fetish-y memo books was a bit less incongruous.
Anyway, I can appreciate what they’re trying to do– their marketing is creative, their products (and website) look great, they’re supporting independent manufacturing in the USA, and from what I’ve read, the paper inside performs well. But although at least one reviewer finds these “less ostentatious” than Moleskines, my verdict is that Field Notes end up being a little too twee. I’ll stick to plainer notebooks that stop touting their own coolness once you’ve taken off the wrapper.