“I’m obsessed with pocket notebooks and have found that the perfect one for me is the soft cover Leuchtturm notebook. Your blog inspired me to test these Leuchtturms and I’m really glad I had! I’m afraid the obsession has moved to a whole new level. I like these so much I collected quite a few to make sure I never run out of my favorite notebook.”
Time once again to try to help each other out by crowd-sourcing some notebook questions!
Toby writes: The enclosed picture is of my favorite notebook, well the notebook is a few weeks old but the cover I have carried since I was fifteen, everyday it goes in my left pocket and more of my most cherished ideas are inscribed into it. I have taken it everywhere everyday, even overseas…but alas it is falling apart. Rather than carry it to complete ruin I am looking to replace it so that I may have what remains as a memento. Please tell me if you know where I may find a cover that is similar.
I haven’t seen notebook covers for sale in this particular format, where a top-opening pad fits into a side-opening leather cover. But maybe Etsy would be a good place to search for someone who could make one? I did a quick search and spotted a seller called CLWorkshop who offers handmade leather journals and says “If you wanna special size journal cover, pls let us know your book’s size, length, width, thickness, we will give you the best price.” Anyone else have any ideas?
Armelle, who lives in the south of France, is looking for advice on a business idea: I always loved note books, and recently I thought of making my own.. and even to make some for others. I would like to find out how to make spiral bound note books, with hard cover (so that one can easily write on it, even if on one’s knees when one doesn’t have a table). I’m ready to invest a bit in the business by buying some binding machine. But as my financial situation is pretty difficult these days, I can not take much risk. I would like to hear others experience.
It looks like you can buy such machines online for as little as a few hundred dollars but I’m not sure how sturdy they’d be for a business. Can these machines punch through thick covers as well as sheets of paper? Has anyone tried this and do you have any advice for Armelle?
TonyB is looking for a journal with tabs that stick out to divide it into different subjects:
I’m tired of juggling three or four journals all the time. It’s a pain to keep up with and the cat keeps knocking them off my desk. I’m looking for one journal that I can use for all subjects. Something with good-quality lined paper and tabs (the kind that stick out), under $15 hopefully. Ideally, something like this, but maybe with a better binding and not so expensive.
A good old-fashioned refillable binder like a Filofax or Franklin Planner is one idea to consider. The paper they come with might not be ideal, but they sell hole-punchers that match their rings so you could insert your own favorite paper. My other idea would be to find a notebook whose paper you like and then add your own removable tabs (such as these to divide it into sections. This would work best if the notebook has a wider cover overhang, so the tabs are somewhat protected. Otherwise, I can’t think of any good-quality notebooks that have divider tabs. Any reader suggestions for Tony?
Iñigo wrote to share a couple of notebook-related tips, including one about Jackie Collins, who has since died, sadly:
I’m writing from Spain. I live in the border with France, so I get to buy Spanish AND French notebook brands…
1. Apparently, author Jackie Collins writes EVERY book by hand and has a secretary that types it the next day. I couldn’t find the interview where she tells it but, I found a picture of her with her hand written books. Here:
2. In the teenage tv series Gossip Girl, there is an episode where one characters diaries leak to the internet.
The notebook apparently is from Tiffany’s, and in a scene you can see that she has used the exact same notebook (which is great for symmetry lovers like me) and how she stores them. I’m sure I would like to do it if I had space and money.
A page from one of Richard Diebenkorn’s sketchbooks– on the day his father died, he drew his hat and shoe and hankerchief:
“Thanks to a gift from the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation, 29 of the artist’s sketchbooks will be on display at Stanford’s Cantor Arts Center starting Sept. 9.
For over two decades since the artist’s death in 1993, the books — which range in shape and size from the spiral-bound variety to beautifully embossed journals — have been kept in a cardboard box in the home of Diebenkorn’s widow, Phyllis. Before her death in January of this year, Phyllis decided to donate the entire collection to the Cantor Arts Center, a choice the exhibit’s curator, Alison Gass, called “an extraordinary gesture of generosity and trust,” given the private nature of these artistic meditations.”
I was on the train the other night and took out my notebook to jot something down. The woman sitting next to me, with whom I had not exchanged a word up til then, said “Oh wow, that’s so nice to see that you are using a paper notebook! You never see anyone writing in an actual notebook any more!”
I thought that was a bit overstated– I don’t see that many people writing notes on public transportation, but I do see some, and I see people using paper notebooks all the time at my job. My seatmate and I continued to chat a bit about writing and reading on paper vs. on screens, and at one point she took out her own planner to jot down a book I’d recommended. It was a pleasant conversation.
Does this ever happen to you? Do you get into conversations with strangers over the fact that one or both of you are using notebooks? Please share your stories in the comments!
The pressboard cover reminds me so much of various notebooks I had as a kid into my college years. I had a blue report cover made of this material, with a spring-action clip inside. I also had similar ones with the same kind of metal attachments you see in the Sideshow notepad, except that they were positioned along the spine, to hold 3-hole punched paper. And my freshman chemistry lab notebook in college had a cover made of this same board, but in brown. Why don’t more notebooks feature covers like this? It has a color variation that is very pleasant, a smooth texture, and seems fairly durable, though I seem to remember that it stained easily if it got wet.
Sideshow has some other nice looking journals and notebooks too, including these:
Here we have another Kickstarter project that I decided to support at a modest level. When I saw the design of the LatLon notebooks, I thought it was quite cool-looking, and an interesting concept. Each notebook has a letterpress printed cover featuring the contour lines of the elevation of an island or glacier or the surface of Mars. They include the coordinates of the location, therefore the LATitude and LONgitude of the brand name. It’s a simple idea, but very nicely executed, with the contour lines and slight color contrast of the printing making a beautiful design and a pleasing texture.
Apart from the design, these are pretty standard in terms of format– 3.5 x 5.5″, staple-bound, very similar to Field Notes, Moleskine Cahier and various others, including the Furrow Books notebook I reviewed just recently. Blank or squared pages are available– I got the grid pages, where the lines are thicker than Moleskine’s– you can see the dot printing in the lines, making them seem less sharp.
The paper is very smooth and feels great to write on– a similar feel to Moleskine paper. Performance is good with fine gel ink pens, but otherwise show-through is average to a bit worse than average with some pens. Bleed-through is a bit worse than average with fountain pens.
I am happy I have these notebooks in my collection, but I don’t think I’ll be buying more. The design is gorgeous, but otherwise they are very basic and don’t offer anything extra beyond the competition, yet they are priced quite a bit higher– individual notebooks are $7, or you can get 3 for $15 or 6 for $30. (And I think even this is a sale price marked down from the original cost.) That does not include shipping from Iceland. As far as I know, LatLon’s online store is the only place to buy them.
These notebooks have an unusual design combo: vintage science, math and medical illustrations embellished with embroidery:
“Since we last checked out Athens-based Fabulous Cat Papers (previously) they’ve released a whole new series of notebooks that incorporate vintage science/medical illustrations printed on Japanese paper with hand-stitched embroidery. The notebooks come in a variety of sizes and options for blank, ruled, and graph papers.”
Moleskine has always been rather cagey about revealing the actual weight of their paper, unlike rival notebook makers such as Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Fabriano and many others who specify their paper weight in GSM (grams per square meter). GSM isn’t the only factor in how a paper performs, but it’s a good indicator, as thicker paper will usually have less show-through and bleed-through.
A while back, I linked to this blog post, which does a very detailed analysis to arrive at an estimated measurement of Moleskine’s paper weight. The author Steve DeLong just updated it to let everyone know that he’s been proven right! Moleskine released the information below about their various paper types (this actually dates back to February 2014, but I guess we didn’t notice at the time!):
Paper and item guide.
70 g/m² – 47 lb paper
The classic, ivory-coloured Moleskine notebook paper, suitable for dry media, pencils, ballpoint pens. Items: Music Notebook
100 g/m² – 68 lb paper
A heavier version of the notebook paper. Appropriate for fountain pens and dry media, pencils, charcoal, pastels. Items: A3 Plain Book
120 g/m² – 81 lb
Smooth, ivory-coloured paper. Ideal for sketching and drawing with pencils, charcoal, fountain pens, markers. Items: Sketch Album
165 g/m² – 111 lb
Pigmented directly in the pulp itself, this paper guarantees colour stability and resistance to eraser and marker use. It supports all dry media, pencils, pastels, charcoal, fountain pens and markers. Items: Sketchbook, Japanese Album, Storyboard Notebook
200 g/m² – 135 lb
Cold-pressed watercolour paper with cotton for better water absorption on both sides of the page. Created exclusively for Moleskine, it is suitable for watercolour washes and supports large quantities of water. Items: Watercolour Album
200 g/m² – 135 lb
This multimedia paper makes the perfect base for photos, scrapbooking and collages, as well as drawings with bright-coloured pencils, pastels, gel pens and Moleskine fluorescent and metallic inks. Items: Black Page Album, Black Page Japanese Album
The surprises here for me were that there is an in-between 100GSM weight used in the A3 plain notebooks, though it makes sense that the very thin standard paper might not hold up well at that size. I was not too surprised to see that the softcover Sketch Album has lighter weight paper than the regular hardcover Sketchbook, Japanese Album and Storyboard notebooks– I bought a Sketch Album a while ago and have had it in my queue to review, and my first impression of it was that the paper seemed lighter. It will be interesting to do some actual tests now knowing that it really is a different weight.
Thanks to Steve for the heads-up about Moleskine’s press release!