A reader recently wrote to me with the following question:
“I have been looking for a particular kind of notebook for quite some time. I see them more in movies than anything, and examples include JFK and the most recent Captain America movie (see pic below). It’s very similar to the one you have posted for Samuel Beckett. It’s got a brown card stock soft cover, ruled pages, and I believe stapled or stitched binding with a darker color tape (?) placed along the bound edge for reinforcement. They look like the sort of thing that would only cost a dollar or two. I’ve looked everywhere and cannot find them. Do you happen to know where I might find such a thing?”
I get so many questions about notebooks where I am completely stumped, but this time, I had some answers! I had a few of these notebooks in my own collection:
I bought these in the 1980s, in various stationery/office supply stores. Mine were made by Boorum & Pease, stock # 6086 1/2. Other brands may also have been available back in the day, perhaps in other parts of the country– Boorum and Pease was a NY/NJ-based company for many years, so these may have been more common in the Northeast. It’s rather quaint to think of regional stationery brands in today’s globalized world, isn’t it! But at least in the area where I grew up, these notebooks used to be pretty common and inexpensive. I loved the look of the reddish-brown cover with the black tape on the spine. The square corners could get beat up, but other than that, they were really handy little notebooks, and it’s a shame they seem to have gone out of fashion.
In searching for a contemporary version online, these were the closest things I could find: Oxford Side Opening 48 SHT Memo Book 5″ x 3″ – # 6080 1/2 and Roaring Springs Sewn Memo Book Item # 76096. There are similar ones on Amazon under the brand names Wilson & Jones and Adams Manufacturing. Unfortunately, most of them aren’t the same pocket sized version as mine– I mainly found listings for larger sizes. I’ve collected all the ones I could find on Amazon (plus some other fun stuff) in the Notebook Stories store under “Retro Style Notebooks.” If anyone else can suggest places to buy these notebooks today, please let us know in the comments!