Disappointing Notebook Shopping

I went to London recently on a business trip and was excited about having an opportunity to spot some notebooks that might not be available in the US… but unfortunately, the trip was a bit of a bust in that respect. I had jotted down the names of some stationery and art supply shops (thank you to those of you who responded to my Twitter call for suggestions) but I ended up having such limited time for wandering and shopping that I didn’t make it to most of them. I did visit two London Graphic Centre stores in hopes that I could find a pocket size Seawhite sketchbook that I’d seen online, but they were very small and didn’t have much selection. They did have larger Seawhite sketchbooks, both hardcover and staple-bound.

I also stopped in some Rymans and Waterstone’s shops, but again didn’t really see anything that inspiring, mostly spiral bound Pukka Pads. I almost bought a Silvine cash book, but decided I didn’t really need it in my collection. At Paddington Station, there was a little gift shop selling NU notebooks, but again, I didn’t feel the need to buy. Part of the problem is the exchange rate– everything is so expensive in London, you have to really want something to make it worthwhile. I was truly appalled when I saw that a shop at Heathrow airport was selling pocket size Moleskines for £13.99, which would be over $23 US, and that’s just at the official exchange rate, before you factor in the extra charges your credit card will tack on, or the actual rate you’ll get if you change money, which might put it over $26– roughly double the US list price! (I did see lower prices at shops outside the airport.)

So ultimately, I returned from London without a single new notebook. Next time I’ll have to plan my shopping better to see if I can hit some of the more interesting gift and stationery shops that might have more unique items.

Back in the States, I happened to spend a few hours in New Paltz, NY, a college town with some fun, quirky shops. Manny’s Art Supplies was a delight to visit, as they have a fun selection of all sorts of things. It reminded me of a long-gone five-and-ten store from my childhood, with bins of little items like superballs and plastic animals. They had assorted office supplies like ledgers and receipt books, as well as a lot of sketchbooks and notebook brands like Moleskine, Rhodia and Clairefontaine. I bought some art supplies, but no notebooks, unfortunately. Nearby, I stopped in a great used bookstore called Barner Books. They sell quite a few journals, including the ScriptaNotes brand and a lot of leather-covered journals with very decorated covers. I snagged a couple of books that I had been wanting to read, but again, the notebooks weren’t calling my name. Oh well… it’s not like I don’t have plenty of other new and old notebooks in the pipeline to review, including what’s below!

to review1

Do you have favorite art supply or stationery stores where you like to shop for new notebooks? Have you spotted anything new and interesting lately?

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8 Responses to “Disappointing Notebook Shopping”

  1. Honestly so much shopping in the UK is done online that stationery shops on the high street have suffered.

    See here for example ( http://www.reddit.com/r/notebooks/wiki/online_retail#wiki_united_kingdom ) where most of the online shops offer free delivery and a much greater selection.

    Coming from London myself, I would always recommend notebook collectors to go straight to King’s X and take the Eurostar for Paris!

  2. @Callum, which stores do you recommend in Paris? I’m headed that way soon…

  3. I share your pain, being a person grew up in Hong Kong (stationery and everything cute heaven!) and living in London for 10 years.

    I wish I had known and was able to give you a few tips.

    Blackwells bookshop at Charring Cross Road has been doing 3for2 long term for Moleskines.

    Paperchase often has cute stuff. I love MUJI – I mostly buy their pens.

    Foyles has been selling a lot of Moleskine, Paperblanks, Leuchtturm notebooks.

    From what I can see, UK people have to rely on internet shopping a lot….
    whereas for me, I get my yearly fix when I visit Hong Kong (but a luggage limit of 23kg is really not a lot….)

  4. London is staggeringly expensive :( My favorite local places to find notebooks are Patrick & Co in San Francisco, Elmwood Stationers in Berkeley, or any of the area Daiso shops.

  5. Such a shame I am not on Twitter…

    I would have recommended Blackwells (as someone has already mentioned), The London Graphic Centre in Covent Garden (which is their biggest store in London) and also Magma which has two stores in Covent Garden and sometimes has some quirky notebooks in stock.

    Have to admit though Paris is definitely a good place for finding stationary.
    I would check out Le Bonne Marche and also BookBinders design (slightly expensive but great quality) – they have stores in Le Marais and also right by Le Bonne Marche. I believe they are Swedish…

  6. I see you’ve got a Leuchtturm neon! I’m eager to hear what you think of it.

  7. I was just in England, too, and had the same experience. I loved spending 90 minutes just wandering around the big Manchester Paperchase, but I didn’t buy much. (Or, at least, I didn’t buy much by way of notebooks/paper.)

    My most fun stationery purchase find was outside a junky bargain store in Llandudno, Wales. Four blank exercise books for 1 pound and three oversized sun-bleached engineer-rule exercise books for 1 pound!

  8. […] Notebook Stories: A Blog About Notebooks, Journals, Moleskines, Blank Books, Sketchbooks, Diaries an… […]

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