I was excited to discover this new brand, as I’m always looking for nice, basic notebooks with simple extra touches that differentiate them from the pack. I really liked the look of Notes & Dabbles’ cloth-covered notebooks as well as the leather-look hardcovers and softcovers, so I immediately wrote to the company to request samples. They very generously complied! Look at all the goodies:
My immediate favorites were the softcover notebooks. They are a really nice size that just fits nicely in the hand, and in the pocket. You can see below that they are noticeably smaller than a pocket hardcover Moleskine. Though all the notebooks I received are supposedly 90 x 140 mm, these softcovers are actually 87 x 137mm– I’m not complaining, though. The red and dark navy covers are pleasing shades, in a somewhat glossier cover material than other similar notebooks I’ve tried. The covers have an extra layer of reinforcement that stiffens them a bit and hopefully would prevent corners from curling with prolonged use. The brand is stamped on the back cover. Inside the front cover there are lines for contact info. Inside the back cover, there is an expanding pocket, with an extra little slot where you can tuck a business card. There is an elastic closure but no ribbon marker. The last few pages are perforated. The notebook opens nice and flat.
The paper is very similar to what you’ll find in a Moleskine– nice and smooth and a pleasure to write on with fine point gel ink pens. Unfortunately it is a bit worse than average in terms of show-through and bleed-through, and fountain pens seem to feather out a bit.
Given the somewhat too-light paper, this would not be something I’d want to use for heavy-duty journal writing or as a sketchbook, but it would be a great daily jotter to throw in a bag or jacket pocket. I really love the size and feel of this notebook, and couldn’t tear myself away from the sample as soon as I’d unpacked it!
The cloth-covered notebooks have true 90 x 140mm sizing on the outside, though there is a bit of cover overhang so the book block within is about the same size as the softcover notebook. I love clothbound covers on notebooks like the HandBook Artist Journals, and wish they were used more. I also love colored page edges. The black covers with yellow and orange edges are a bit bright but fun. The grey is nice, but I’d prefer it with a different contrasting color than blue. My only disappointment with these was the construction– the spines are very loose, as if the cover was sized to have a thicker book block inside it. The extra material tends to bulge out unevenly and it just looks a bit sloppy. These also have the back pocket with the business card slot, and a nice bonus feature: two ribbon markers, in colors matching the rest of the notebook.
The pen-loop notebooks were my least favorite of the batch– for one, I personally never use pen loops and I generally don’t like the way they throw off the clean edges of a notebook. But it did seem like a clever concept to put the loop on the spine instead of the edge where the notebook opens– since it’s elastic, it sits pretty flat against the spine and is a lot less obtrusive when you’re not using it. The construction of this notebook is rather unusual (though not unique, as the Fabio Ricci “Goran” notebook seems to be almost identical). The hard leather-look front and back cover each end in a line of stitching near the spine, and the spine is made of cloth in a contrasting color, with the black elastic pen loop on top. I don’t love the white with blue or pink color combos, though there are more attractive black and grey versions also available.
All these notebooks are available in plain, lined and dotted page versions, and also in larger sizes. Notes and Dabbles doesn’t seem to have US distribution yet, but keep an eye on their Facebook page for updates about retail availability. And in the meantime, I’ve got lots of samples to share with some lucky readers!
I will send two notebooks each to 5 lucky winners from entries received in the following ways:
On Twitter, tweet something containing “Notes & Dabbles” and “@NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories .
On your blog, post something containing the words “Notes & Dabbles” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.
The deadline for entry is Friday May 2, 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.