The About:Blank notebook is an interesting and pleasingly minimal notebook. From their website: “About:Blank is the pursuit of emptiness that is full of possibility,” which is a great way to describe notebooks in general. Let’s take a closer look at the sample the company sent me.
The sample I received came nicely wrapped in tissue paper, with a sticker thrown in as a bonus. The notebook itself was shrinkwrapped, with a slipped-in sheet that matches the cover material. This extra sheet is stamped with the About:Blank name, website address and the words “Made in Japan.” Once you get past that, the notebook itself is completely bare of any branding or information. It is literally blank, 100%.
My first impression of this notebook was how tight and precise it seems. Similar to the Zequenz notebooks, the edges are perfectly cut with exactly rounded, smooth corners and straight edges. The cover is a flexible heavier-weight paper in a double layer– the binding is one of the unique aspects of this notebook, which allows it to open quite flat without any tearing of the spine.
Inside, the pages have faint white-on-white lines on one side, which will be almost impossible to see in photos. Even looking at the notebook first-hand, you might almost miss them unless you view the page from the right angle. The paper is of a substantial weight– not quite as heavy as Moleskine’s heavyweight sketchbook paper, but thicker than most other notebooks I’ve tried. According to the website, the paper weight is 178g. Both the cover and the paper have a very pleasing smooth matte texture. Another attribute the company’s website mentions is that pages can be torn out cleanly without loosening other pages. I did try tearing out one page of mine– for about the first centimeter, it tore on a very straight, clean line, but beyond that the edge came out very raggedly. I’d rather see them add micro-perforation if they’re going to tout that feature.
In my pen tests, the paper performs very well– much better than average on show-through and bleed-through. The feel of it is very smooth when you’re writing. The fountain pen I used almost seemed to bead up on it, although I found that my Super Sharpie seemed to be soaked up rather thirstily, with the edges feathering out a bit. But for standard rollerball pens, it’s a dream to write on– very smooth and sharp. My pH pen confirms that the paper is acid-free.
It would be interesting to see if this notebook would still work with a heavier, stiffer cover– the cover stock is thin enough that it will curl open slightly once the notebook is being used, thereby spoiling those precise, square edges a bit. I’d also love to see a version of this notebook in a smaller, pocket size– right now, only a 106 x 178 x 12 mm (approx. 4 x 7 x .5 inches) version is available, in black, red, or white. It would fit into a man’s jacket pocket, but probably not a jeans pocket. (Shown below next to a pocket size Moleskine for comparison.)
The About:Blank notebook is available in various shops in Europe and Asia, mostly in Japan. For US customers, you can buy online here, where the notebook is currently marked down from $19.98 to $14.98. The regular pricing is on the high side for a notebook of this size, but you’re definitely getting better than average quality for your money, and supporting an independent manufacturer who is offering a nice alternative to other notebooks on the market.
Read more at the company’s website: About Blank :: notebook.