The folks at Paperblanks were kind enough to send me some samples after seeing my review of their “Old Leather” notebook. I am so glad they did, as I really love the notebooks they sent. Though there are things about them that are not 100% what I tend to look for in notebooks for my daily personal use, these are gorgeous, high-quality notebooks that I would totally buy if I found them in a store. Let’s take a look at why.
Each of the notebooks has a different cover style, and a different interior page style. (Other combinations may be available.)
The Black Moroccan is based on gold-tooled Renaissance-style leather bindings, and has blank pages inside.
The Safavid is lined inside and is based on Persian Safavid Islamic design, reproducing an image from the Düsseldorf Museum Kunst Palast.
The Grolier is based on an antique book bound by Jean Grolier (1479-1565), from the collection of the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. It has squared paper inside, which I was very happy to see, as I didn’t know Paperblanks ever offered graph paper options.
These 3 styles are shown from left to right in the first photo below.
I’m always impressed by the richness and elegance of the Paperblanks cover designs, and these are no exception. They feel very faithful to the antique designs they emulate, and the delicate stamping and spots of metallic inks indicate real care taken in the printing process. I’m amazed that they can offer these for $11.95 with this level of quality. (They are made in China.) With most notebooks, I don’t like it when there is a groove between the spine and where the boards start– I like a smooth, flat transition where the spine wraps around cleanly and the edge of the boards is pretty much lined up with the spine of the book block– but in these notebooks, it seems so in character with the designs, it doesn’t bother me, and it does allow the cover to easily fold back on itself completely without breaking, which is not possible with some other reporter notebooks. A softcover Moleskine reporter will manage it, as will a hardcover Brunnen I reviewed, but I’m not sure a hardcover Moleskine will survive long with that treatment! (A pocket Moleskine watercolor sketchbook is shown above, as the closest comparison I had handy.)
Aside from the decorative elements, the notebook construction is solid. Neat corners, edges that don’t stick out too much, supple spines that open flat. I would prefer the page edges to be cut straight rather than follow the roundness of the spine, but it doesn’t bother me that much. The last few pages are perforated. The lines in the ruled notebook don’t go all the way to the page edge, which might bother some people. The graph paper is perfect– the thin grey lines are nicely sharp and thin and light.
Inside there is some info about the brand and the design, as well as a back pocket, and an elastic closure that tucks neatly behind it so it doesn’t show on the back cover when you’re not using it.
The paper is such a pleasure to write on, especially with my favorite gel ink fine point pens. It’s smooth and creamy and the pen just glides over it. Fountain pens work nicely, though when I looked closely a little while later, I noticed some very slight feathering with the Pilot Varsity. I don’t usually test drying times, but the Lamy Safari stayed wet a lot longer than the Pilot did. Alas, the paper is a bit on the lightweight side and show-through and bleed-through are a bit worse than average, though if you use mainly gel ink fine point pens like the Uniballs I use at the top of the page, I think most people would find the level of show-through tolerable.
So I’ll say it again, I love these notebooks and if I hadn’t gotten them for free, I’d buy one! Paperblanks are available in quite a few retailers, including online at Amazon. But you can also try to win one in the giveaway! The Safavid and the Black Moroccan will each go to one of the two lucky winners I’ll select from entries received in these ways:
On your blog, post something containing the words “Paperblanks” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.
The deadline for entry is Friday April 18, 2014 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner.