For a few years now, I’ve come across online mentions of these very cool Penguin notebooks, but had never figured out where to buy one in the US. But a few months ago, when I was attending BookExpo America for my day job, I happened to wander through the Penguin booth and stopped when I saw a display of notebooks, mugs and other accessories, all part of their US launch of non-book gift items with the Penguin branding. And as I stood there admiring them, a Penguin employee asked if I’d like a notebook to keep, and I very gladly said yes!
So here it is:
I really do love the design of these notebooks. It’s such a great idea to take Penguin’s iconic look and classic novels and make them the covers of notebooks. Unfortunately, to truly replicate the proportions of the original books, the notebooks have to be a bit taller than my favorite height to width ratio. That’s my own personal preference and others may not have a problem with it… but unfortunately, there’s a few other issues with this notebook that will keep it from being something I ever actually use.
First of all, the binding is quite stiff– it does not easily lie flat. Then there’s the paper, which feels great with the usual gel ink rollerball pens I use, but some other pens behaved very strangely. My Pigma Brush pen seemed to somehow resist the paper– it goes on looking greyish instead of the opaque black it shows on other papers. My Pilot Varsity fountain pen also seemed to bead up. Otherwise, showthrough and bleed-through were about average, or maybe a little worse than average.
Otherwise, the notebook didn’t have too many surprises– the cardboard cover is sturdy, with sharply squared-off corners. There’s a ribbon marker and back pocket. The ribbon marker is sealed at the end so it won’t fray, which is a nice touch, but in my sample, it must have been tucked in before the end had completely dried and it was a bit stuck to the pages. I also wondered why they chose to use a red ribbon on a notebook that is otherwise all orange and black. Another nice touch is that the space on the inside front cover where you write your contact info is headed “Ex Libris.”
Bottom line: this is a great looking notebook that would make a nice gift for any booklover. But if you’re really picky about how it actually performs, it might not be your best choice.