Pocket Dept is a relatively new brand of notebooks. Here’s the description from their website:
Pocket Dept is a line of handy notebooks inspired by vintage stationary and designed to suit every pocket. Each Pocket Dept book is made from the finest writing papers and perfect bound for strength and durability. Designed and manufactured with recycled materials by Art House Co-op in Brooklyn, NY – from our workshop to your pocket.
I first spotted Pocket Dept notebooks at the BookExpo convention back in May, and I was immediately smitten. The colors and design are lovely, with the feel of a vintage notebook that might have faded a bit with age. But is their beauty more than skin-deep? (or cover-deep) Let’s take a look at some samples the company sent me to find out…
Here’s the 3 samples I got:
Aren’t those colors fantastic? The sizes shown above are their “Messenger Bag Pocket” size, which is 5.5 x 8.5″, and the 3.5 x 5.5″ “Shirt Pocket” model. They also offer a 6×6″ “Backpack Pocket,” a 4 x 4″ “Back Pocket,” and a 3.5 x 6″ “Front Pocket.” This last, to me, seemed a curious choice– why offer two sizes that differ by only a half inch in height? As far as I can tell, there is no other difference. I guess the 3.5 x 6″ size is becoming more popular– it’s used by Leuchtturm and other brands, particularly German ones, it seems. Perhaps some people are just as passionately in favor of the taller page size as I am passionately against it!
But back to my samples…
The covers have a letterpress printed box with the brand name and a space for your name, the date, and a place. The typography also has a vintage look to it. I do tend to prefer notebooks that proclaim their branding more subtly, but the design is attractive. You’ll also notice that one of the notebooks is in French, which I love. On the back cover, there’s another box with information about the brand and the slogan “a notebook for your pocket.”
The edges are nicely trimmed, with square corners. Everything was nice and square and lined up properly– good attention to quality and detail. The spine is also squared off as they are perfect bound, with the pages glued in rather than sewn in signatures. I’ve pictured the Pocket Dept notebook with a pocket hardcover Moleskine for size comparison, but the Moleskine Volant would be a closer equivalent.
But the binding ended up being my main beef with this notebook. The cover is glued in beyond the edge of the notebook, so to open it, you have to crease the front cover, thereby spoiling its appearance a bit. The spine is pretty tightly glued, so the notebook doesn’t open flat.
The paper inside is slightly greyish– it reminded me of the paper in the Leonardo notebook I reviewed. I wasn’t expecting it to be especially smooth, but it actually feels great to write on and performed well with all my usual pens. Showthrough and bleed-through were less than average. Unlined paper seems to be the only option. None of the pages are perforated.
Each of the notebooks has 35 sheets/ 70 pages, so they are slim and certainly live up to their name of being easy to slide into a pocket. But at prices of $8-12 each depending on size, they’re pretty expensive– you won’t have to worry about your money competing for space in those pockets if you buy a lot of these! I am willing to pay a little more for a well-made notebook, especially one like this where I know I’m supporting a small local business, but that price makes me say ouch. It’s a shame, because I’d buy one as a gift for a notebook lover, but I wouldn’t buy dozens for myself to go through as the kind of everyday jotter notebook that they seem to want them to be.
So, bottom line, the pros are the beautiful design, variety of colors and sizes, and the paper. The cons are the binding that doesn’t allow the notebook to lie flat, and the price. I wish I could give these more of a whole-hearted rave, but I hope the company will come out with other products. I’d personally love to see a hardcover notebook with the same paper and the exterior in these great colors. (In 3.5 x 5.5″, please!)
You can buy Pocket Dept notebooks in a few stores around the US, as well as online from their website. But you can also try your hand at winning one. I’ll be selecting 2 lucky winners to receive some of my samples, from entries received as follows:
On your blog, post something containing the words “Pocket Dept” and “NotebookStories” and link back to this post.
The deadline for entry is Friday Dec. 9 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!