From Our Readers

Time for another look through the mailbag!

From BMT:

This might come under the “fell off the face of the Earth” dept.

In the early sixties, possibly 1960 or 1961 a loose leaf company (Mead?) marketed a failed loose leaf product named “Nifty.”
Instead of the conventional rings on the left side, it flipped up like a legal pad. There were two “pegs” that held the special two-hole (on the top) loose leaf paper as well as a convenient pencil compartment with a magnetic catch.

The TV commercial, in black & white of course showed a cartoon of kids on a school bus singing “…take Nifty to school with you…” with the bus sounding “honk-honk” on the horn. The verse was repeated two more times.

My mother bought me one, but the product flopped as fast as it came out, and I can’t find one word of the product anywhere on the net.

From Ayanna:

I purchased a fabulous sketchbook @ Blick Art Supplies in Pasadena,CA in June of this year. The notebook was a larger size than I usually use and I fell in love with it. The size is 9×12 and it is manufactured by Fabrica (Libretto Holdings in NYC) which seems to be a subsidiary of Benneton. It has a vinyl cover that you can slip business cards or photos into and 120 blank pages. This notebook is perfect for designing lines and collecting mood images etc. I have contacted Fabrica via email and no one has returned my calls. Have you ever seen this book before or do you have any information on where I can purchase another similiar style?

From Jordan:

My question lies with the movie “Shutter Island”. In the movie, Leo Dicaprio’s character uses a soft-cover notebook throughout to take notes, and I love it. The only problem is I am terrible at recognizing notebook brands, types etc. I was wondering if maybe you could help me, I would REALLY appreciate it.

Can anyone help find these notebooks?

Other readers have written just to say hello and share interesting links:

Check out Caribbean Princess’s blog for some great Filofax posts.

Katie introduces Gadanke, her line of creative writing journals with unique and inspiring prompts.

And Paul recommends this book: Tennessee Williams: Notebooks. It includes descriptions and photos of the notebooks themselves, something that often seems to be lacking in books about writers’ notebooks!

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7 Responses to “From Our Readers”

  1. Thanks for linking to my blog! 🙂
    I LOVE notebook and planner blogs and I am having so much fun reading through yours.

  2. For Jordan,
    I’m not sure exactly what the brand is from the movie. Moleskine has a notebook much like that one. It’s called the Volant. They are available in different sizes. The ones I use are pocket and X-tra small. They hold up good to daily use, I beat mine up daily.

    Then there are a few other companies that make this style, I just never used any.

  3. To BMT: There were TWO kinds of Nifty Notebooks, the one you described which flipped up like a a regular writing pad and one that had the 2 pegs on the left side with the magnetic catch. I think I had one of each when I was in grade school, a green side latch and a blue top latch. With both types, the cover could be folded under the whole unit giving you a convenient writing surface. I remember the promotion emphasized that you could write while walking or standing without the need for a table, etc.. They were quite handy but I’m pretty sure the idea didn’t catch on because of the unique two-hole paper which was probably cost more, plus if the refills weren’t available, you were out of luck…and three-hole paper has always been in abundance!

  4. I made the mistake of buying the first one with the top holes. I didn’t keep it for two long and besides the kids on the block would call out the song to me every time I walked by, thanks to one of the older kids who first started the nonsense, and whats more Nifty became my new nickname, “Hey Nifty” even after I got rid of it. A very sad time in my young teen years.

  5. I can’t believe there’s a notebook site but I was thinking of when I was using the Nifty notebook when they first came out – I’m 63 so it was in late ’59 or 60. I WAS SO HAPPY – WHY, YOU ASK? Because I’m left-handed and in those days you HAD to learn cursive writing going towards to right. Yeah, not easy with a left-handed brain and to boot, had to deal with spirals or whatnot right by the margin where we had to actually start on the line or be marked off. A challenge – turned the regular books sideways, almost upside down; then I decided to teach myself to write right-handed. Mind you, I was in 3d grade forward. So, Nifty will always be a great memory for me and I was very upset when they stopped making them. Thanks for this site. I love notebooks, love to write (obviously, right?)

  6. Another drawback with the Nifty notebooks was the fact that after you wrote on the top sheet, you had to completely remove it and put it underneath or at the bottom of the next page you were writing on. You couldn’t flip thru the pages easily like you can a ringed binder.

  7. This is an edit of the previous post.
    Besides the paper not always being available, when you wrote on the top page and to write on the next one you had to remove the top page and put a blank page on top of it. or you had to store the written on pages underneath all the blank pages. You could not just flip over the paper to the next blank sheet or flip thru any of the previously written pages very easily when you were looking thru the pages for something you had previously wrote. I liked the fact that it came with a built in pencil case. I, too, am left handed and writing in a right handed note book of any type is a pain. I wish left handed paper with the holes punched out on the right side and left handed spiral notebooks were easier to find.

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