I had never heard of the brand Victoria’s Journals, so I was very happy to receive a huge assortment of them from the company, which is based in Hong Kong. Wow– lots of variety and some unusual designs. Let’s take a look! (To see larger versions of the thumbnails below, click through to see the original on Flickr.)
Here’s the whole collection:
Big ones, small ones, elastic closures, magnetic closures, snap closures, colorful covers, plain covers. They really run the gamut! I’ve shown the various groupings below next to a pocket size Moleskine for size reference.
I picked a couple favorites to review in more detail. First, a chunky pocket size notebook under the Copelle brand. You’ll also notice a similar black one in the photos above, in a larger size.
I really like the size and shape and the uncovered cardboard cover. It’s reinforced with an extra layer so it’s quite sturdy. The binding is an unusual construction, designed so it opens flatter. There’s no inside pocket but you do have a ribbon marker, though it is glued into the back cover rather than into the spine of the notebook at the middle of the pages. This means it gets pulled out a bit whenever you open the back cover. The elastic closure on this notebook is also unique– it’s about an inch wide and seems very sturdy. Unfortunately it’s really awkward to use– not practical at all. I am seriously tempted to try to cut it off so I could actually use this notebook, as even tucking it around the back cover leaves an annoying bulge.
The pages inside have a dot grid, which does not go all the way to the edge of the page. The paper is nice and smooth and feels great with fine tip pens. I don’t know the paper weight but it feels more substantial than most, and my usual pen tests also bear that out– show-through was a little better than average, and bleed-through performance was great, with even the dreaded Super Sharpie not soaking through too much. I think fountain pen users will really like this paper. Another cool feature is that the last 8 pages of the notebook have blank, perforated pages, which are not only perforated at the gutter, but across the middle of the page.
Very handy if you just want to give someone a phone number without wasting a whole page. Bottom line, I really love this notebook but I hope they redesign that big wide elastic!
Then we have this medium-size Venzi notebook.
According to the paper band, this was made exclusively for the National Bookstore chain in the Philippines. This is very similar to a softcover Moleskine, but has lovely red-dyed edges and a matching red elastic. The cover has a nice feel, and the notebook is quite flexible. There is an expanding pocket in the back, but no ribbon marker. The paper inside is blank, in a creamy off-white. According to the label, it’s 70 GSM, and it feels a bit thin. The pen tests produced quite a lot of show-through, and the Accu-Liner and Super Sharpie bled through. The other thing I noticed about this notebook was an unusual smell, perhaps from the dye they use on the edges? I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, and I didn’t think it was a horrible odor, but it was pretty noticeable when I first opened the notebook. But otherwise, I quite liked the notebook as a nice basic softcover with a fun twist to the design. I’m not sure if the Venzi collection is available outside the Philippines but I would live to try more of them, as I am always looking for nice, basic Moleskine alternatives in my favorite 9×14 cm / 3.5 x 5.5″ size, and they have some intriguing options on their website, though they only seem to offer ruled pages.
Of the other notebooks, the most appealing to me was a boxed one that is very similar to the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. A leather cover encloses 3 stitched notebooks, each meant to be used for a different purpose: Time has undated calendar pages, Work is lined, and Personal is blank. These titles are embossed into the covers of each cahier but so lightly that it’s very hard to see in the photos, or in person, for that matter. The notebook also comes with a page of stickers you can use to create tabbed pages.
I also liked the look of the “Cahier d’Exercise” notebooks, which come in two sizes, though the stitched binding is a bit impractical as it prevents them from opening flat.
Victoria’s Journals are available in various retailers around the world (see their Where to Buy page). But of course I am also doing a big giveaway with these samples if you want a chance to try them for free!
I will select 4 lucky winners from entries received in the following ways:
On Twitter, tweet something containing “Victoria’s Journals” and “@NotebookStories”, and follow “@NotebookStories.”
On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page , and post something containing the words “Victoria’s Journals” on the Notebook Stories wall.
On your blog, post something containing the words “Victoria’s Journals” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.
On this post, comment about how much you want to try a Victoria’s Journal and what you’ll fill it with!
The deadline for entry is Friday September 6 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner.