Re-Starting a Fizzled-Out Notebook?

A commenter named Thao had this question in response to my post about hoarding notebooks for the future:

“My question for you is how do you repurpose a notebook after its initial use fizzles out? Like projects that never finish or die out and you’ve already devoted 10% of the pages to it. Do you tear those pages out? Do you cover them over? Or can you calmly ignore those pages and continue using the rest of the notebook for a new purpose?”

Great question! I’ve had many notebooks over the years which started out being dedicated to some specific project but then quickly fizzled out. I have sometimes torn out the pages. I have sometimes taped them together so it was easy to flip past and ignore them. If I had written a subject on the front, I just stuck a sticker or label over it. When I was a kid I also repurposed some spiral notebooks by twisting the wires out and then combining some of the pages together and twisting the spiral back in, sometimes even reusing the extra covers to make section dividers.

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But in other cases, the notebook was just abandoned and sits in one of my many boxes in a still uncompleted state…

How about you, readers?

“The Pressures of a Really Good Notebook”

I quite sympathize with this person– it’s nice to get notebooks as gifts, but on the other hand they are very personal and what do you do if someone gives you one and you don’t know what to do with it?

“When your family knows you’re a writer you get notebooks for presents, especially when you are goddamn impossible to buy gifts for because you don’t really want anything, except maybe books, but you work at a bookstore so it is folly to try to buy books for you. I still start a lot of projects by hand even though my penmanship is awful, so, it’s pretty handy to get new notebooks roughly biannually. But notebooks are also very personal items. A notebook could be with me for years. I could be in physical contact with it for hundreds of hours over that time. When I’m writing in it, it is the most important object in my life. And if I think I have lost a particular notebook, the lexicon of my panic is equal parts “Ahhhhhhh! The words I have written!” and “Ahhhhh! The thing I have written my words in!” I’ve also been doing this long enough to develop habits, idiosyncrasies, and preferences, so that, though I always appreciate gifted notebooks, sometimes I get one and think “What the hell am I going to use this for?” (More on that later.)

But sometimes the opposite is just as difficult. When I get a really good notebook, I feel pressure to write something that uniquely fits into the physics of that notebook….”

In this case, the writer received a few customized Moleskines that were given to attendees of an annual independent booksellers’ conference:

Read more at In Order of Importance: The Pressures of a Really Good Notebook.

Review and Giveaway: Halaby Aero Flightbook Notebooks

Can you judge a  notebook by its cover? Perhaps! I was very excited to get these samples from Halaby Aero. The first time I saw these notebooks at Paper Presentation in NYC, I immediately thought they were cool. I have no day to day use for any of the airplane-related info on the covers, but I’d like to think that someday I will, as I’ve always wanted to learn to fly. I was interested to see on the company’s website that “The inspiration for FLIGHTBOOK comes from the 1956 edition of “The Observer’s Book of Aircraft” – a clear, concise book that was published as international commercial jet travel was developing.” I’ve collected the Observer’s series since I was a kid, and I have a couple of editions of the Aircraft book, if not the exact 1956 one. (The old Observer’s books were small jacketed hardcovers, very similar to the size of pocket notebook I like, and they are full of details and data and cool illustrations and photos on a variety of topics.)

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The first notebooks I received were the pocket size staple bound ones. They are similarly sized to Field Notes (shown below next to a pocket Moleskine for comparison.)

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The A4 size spiral bound notebook is a new addition to the product line, just introduced in August 2014. It’s a rather flexible and soft notebook, as the covers are made of the same stock as the pocket covers, as far as I can tell. I love the crisp design of the covers, especially the commercial aircraft on the back cover. Inside, the paper has nice sharp blue squares. There is nice attention to detail here, in having the brass staples match the metallic ink. The notebooks are available with red, black, and blue cardboard covers, with silver or gold metallic ink options for each. Same for the large spiral notebook– the spiral matches the silver or gold ink, which is a really nice touch. The printing and lines are all nicely aligned and square.

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As for function, these are pretty comparable to any other notebook with graph paper. The are quite similar to Field Notes, with paper that feels great to write on even with very fine point pens. Showthrough is about average. The paper feels a bit thirsty, and bleed-through is slightly worse than average. The paper is 50lb stock according to their website.

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A 2-pack of the 52-page 3.5 x 5.5″ notebooks is $10.99. Given that Field Notes are $9.95 for a 3-pack of 48 page notebooks, that is a bit of a price premium, but these are a bit more of a specialized, niche product due to the design. The A4 spiral notebook is $16.99– given that an A4 wire-bound Clairefontaine notebook is $7.50 and an A4 Rhodia wire-bound notebook is $9.00, this pricing does seem pretty high. But again, it’s hard to compare pricing to something produced in massive quantities like Clairefontaine or Rhodia. If you know anyone who is an air travel enthusiast, a Halaby Aero notebook makes a unique gift that is sure to be appreciated.

You can buy directly from Halaby Aero’s online store, or at select retailers. And you can take a shot at winning our giveaway of the large spiral notebook and one small stapled notebook. One random winner will be selected from entries received in the following ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “@halabyaero Flightbook @NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories and @halabyaero.

On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page and post something containing the words “Halaby Aero Flightbook” on the Notebook Stories page.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Halaby Aero Flightbook” and “Notebook Stories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday September 5, 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. Please allow a couple of weeks for me to check all the entries and determine the winners.

Labor Day: Notebooks at Work

In honor of Labor Day, let’s talk about notebooks used at work, whether it be in an office, or on a construction site, or in a laboratory, or in a classroom, or wherever and however workers use notebooks.

I had food service jobs in college and didn’t really use notebooks for that, other than to keep track of the shifts I was supposed to work. After graduating, I worked in a bookstore and kept a notebook full of to-do lists and notes about scheduling and procedures. Now, I work for a publishing company, where I use a large notebook constantly to keep track of my to-do list and notes from the many meetings I have to attend. I also use a looseleaf binder to store information I need to refer to regularly–  things like schedules, key contacts, lists of passwords, and lists of account numbers, each of which is protected in a plastic sleeve.

I also keep a lot of spare notebooks at my office– mainly because I am running out of room at home! I have about a dozen Moleskines stashed in a desk drawer, and I also have a large box full of samples at any given time, waiting to be sent out to giveaway winners.

 

How about you? How do you use notebooks at work, and what sorts of notebooks do you keep in your workplace?

Notebook Addict of the Week: Carley

This week’s addict emailed me a wonderful essay on why she loves notebooks, and how writing in them inspires her creativity. Here’s some photos of some of her notebooks:
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“I guess you could say that I’m a notebook addict. My current favourite are Paperblanks which I mainly use as Writing Notebooks and Journals. I’ve always loved buying beautiful stationery and notebooks for school or work, but it wasn’t until about a couple years ago that my obsession with notebooks really began to take root. I’ve always loved writing and a couple of years ago I made a New Year’s resolution to write regularly and write down my ideas as they came to me instead of letting them slip away, in the hope that I might finally find the courage to write that novel. And it’s the only resolution, with the exception to not biting my nails, that I’ve stuck to. A resolution that kinda became a compulsion. I buy notebooks all the time because I know that I’ll quickly fill them up, sometimes I’ll fill one in a few days, others in a few months. And let’s face it, you can never have too many notebooks. If anything, I don’t have enough.

I love notebooks, the crisp cool feel of the page, and that slight musky earthy scent. It’s that new book smell. I could breathe it in all day. Between the fresh, blank, crisp pages, and that new book smell lies the promise of something great; that new page is my territory, my blank canvas or unused putty to shape and mould as I like. It’s on these pages that I get to draft new worlds.

I like to be organised especially when it comes to my writing and my notebooks help me do this. I write down my ideas for stories or any piece of dialogue or description that comes into my head. It started as being a way to organise my thoughts, and take note of anything I would probably have forgotten later on. Now I have twenty one notebooks filled with ideas and the ideas are even colour coded by order of preference and divided so that the front contains story ideas, and the back has random snippets of dialogue, description, or research.

I love writing in notebooks because I love the way my hand flows across the smooth paper (something you could never experience with a computer). I love watching the way the thoughts in my head start to come alive on the page. Mostly I love that the more that I write up the idea, the more inspired I become. The story starts to shape itself. I love feeling inspired. It’s one of the best feelings in the world; that feeling that you can do something, and I get that feeling almost every day. It is amazing.

I have idea notebooks. I have notebooks for random stuff, quotes, writing, words of the day, weather, characters, future titles, current projects, poems, book reviews or thoughts, and poetry I like. The list goes on. Sadly, the oldest notebook I have only dates back to 2011.

I only attached the pics of my Idea Journals because I have so many notebooks buried in various drawers and on my shelves, and I don’t think I could fit them all into one pic.”

Pendleton Notebooks

I love the Pendleton designs on these! Very cute.

 

See more at Pendleton Notebooks Giveaway – BOOOOOOOM! – CREATE INSPIRE COMMUNITY ART DESIGN MUSIC FILM PHOTO PROJECTS. (Giveaway has ended, but you can buy at Chronicle’s website or on Amazon.)

Giveaway: Five 2015 Leuchtturm Planners!

Our friends at LoveNotebooks have an exciting giveaway offer for you: 2015 Leuchtturm Planners! At the LoveNotebooks blog, you can read their Top 10 Reasons to use a Leuchtturm Planner in 2015, the first 3 of which are below:

 

1. Quality. Their motto says it all, “details make all the difference”. Leuchtturm has designed their notebooks with careful consideration, from the strong cover that is easily cleaned, the thread bound binding to all of the little extras (think, a rainbow of colors, styles and stickers…yes, stickers).
2. Selection. Planners come in both daily and weekly formats and in 4 different layouts;

  • horizontal – week over two pages Monday – Wednesday on the left page, and Thursday – Sunday on the right page
  • vertical – week over two pages one vertical column for each weekday and one column for the weekend
  • verso – 7 days on the left page, full page for notes on the right page
  • daily – an entire page for each working day

2015 Leuchtturm planners, available in daily & weekly and 4 layouts; horizontal, verso, vertical and daily

 

3. Sizes. Leuchtturm offers three sizes (master, large and pocket) in both daily and weekly formats and all 4 of the layouts.

Read the other 7 reasons at the LoveNotebooks blog and in their online store. They had to unwrap a bunch of planners to take all those photos, and now they’re giving them away! The planners are unused and in like-new condition except that they don’t have the shrinkwrap.

More photos:

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LoveNotebooks will give away the planners to 5 randomly selected winners who enter in the following ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Leuchtturm 2015 planner @lovenotebooks @NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories and @lovenotebooks.

On Facebook, “like” the Notebook Stories page and the LoveNotebooks page and post something containing the words “Leuchtturm 2015 planner” on the Notebook Stories page or the LoveNotebooks page.

Leave a comment on this LoveNotebooks blog post: Top 10 Reasons to use a Leuchtturm Planner in 2015.  [UPDATE 8/27, 6:30pm: the commenting seems to be broken on the LoveNotebooks blog right now, so please check back later and use the other entry methods in the meantime!]

The deadline for entry is Friday September 5, 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. Please allow a couple of weeks for me to check all the entries and determine the winners.

Review: Paper Republic Grand Voyageur

I reviewed a beautiful Paper Republic notebook over a year ago– that one was a small hardcover notebook with an elegant cover pattern. Now Paper Republic has branched off into something quite different, but also rather elegant: the Grand Voyageur travel notebook.

The style of this notebook is hardly unique– like the Midori Traveler’s Notebook and Pelle Journal, the Grand Voyageur is a leather cover with elastic bands that hold in smaller staple-bound or stitched notebooks, all held together with a horizontal elastic closure. The Grand Voyageur comes in a lovely gift box, and the minute you open it, you’ll notice the wonderful smell of real leather. I almost hate to review this notebook before using it for several months, because it’s made of the kind of rich, thick leather that should break in and soften and darken in color over time, developing a patina that no brand-new item can ever imitate.
The leather is Italian cow leather, vegetable-tanned without chemicals and hand -cut in Vienna, Austria.

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The cover is designed to hold 2 notebooks, plus a passport and a pen, according to the packaging. There is no separate loop for a passport and pen, but there would be enough room within the cover to tuck them in along with the notebooks that are included.

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The inner notebooks are a bit different in shape from the typical Field Notes or Moleskine Cahier format– these are about 4 x 5.5″, but standard 3.5 x 5.5″ notebooks would also fit. Shown below with a pocket Moleskine for size comparison.

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The included Paper Republic notebooks were in two different colors, one with lined paper and one with plain. The paper is creamy and smooth and felt good to write on, with pretty typical show-through and bleed-through. Fountain pens feathered a bit.

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Black and red covers are also available, as is a larger size. This pocket size costs 40 euros, and the large is 60 euros, so you’ll be making a bit of an investment, but the Grand Voyageur is a sturdy, refillable cover that you should be able to use for many years.

Bush Smarts Field Journal

This is cute, and it comes in a nice little bag, but seems to just be a medium sized, cardboard cover, relatively thin notebook with a stitched binding… so doesn’t $45 seem really steep??

Tan Field Journal
Whenever you’re ready to write or sketch in the bush or the backyard, you won’t be without pencil and paper. Stash it in its Cuben® sack and you’ve got a windproof, waterproof and UV-resistant kit ready to record your greatest adventures<
5.75in × 4.25in $45

 

Field Journal Tan

Buy at Bush Smarts – Field Journal.

My Inventory of Spare Notebooks

As you might imagine, I have a lot of notebooks stashed in various places. I have boxes of them under beds and in cabinets and in drawers. They are at home and at the office. They are pretty much everywhere! Lots of them are old ones that I have used. Lots of them are new ones that I have not used. Because of this blog, I have a number of notebooks that I never intend to use, though I do try to give a lot of those away. But what about the ones that I do intend to use? I had kind of lost track of how many I had squirreled away, so I decided to get a handle on it. Hint: there are a lot!

I am rather anxious about running out of notebooks that meet my criteria for regular daily use. What if they just stop making ones I like? It could happen. And what about Moleskine’s decline in quality? I’ve been so dismayed at the way they make their notebooks now that I’ve been buying up older ones whenever I spot good ones. For a notebook to make the cut as a daily companion, it has to be approximately 3.5 x 5.5″ or smaller, with plain, dot grid or squared paper. It has to feel good to write in, and feel good to hold. I prefer that the cover be plain, but I’m open to variations as long as the overall aesthetics are pleasing. In addition to the “daily use” notebooks, I am also including the kinds of sketchbooks that I tend to use regularly for assorted drawing and painting, which have to be the same size, with sturdy plain paper. (I am not counting larger sketchbooks, which I do sometimes use, but much more rarely, so I don’t stock up on them much.) After going through my various piles, here’s my current inventory of notebooks with potential for daily use and regular sketching:

  • 20 squared hardcover Moleskines
  • 2 plain hardcover Moleskines
  • 15 Moleskine sketchbooks
  • 2 HandBook Artist Journals
  • 36 assorted other hardcover or softcover notebooks from other brands, including Piccadilly, Pen & Ink and others
  • 37 assorted staple-bound or stitched-spine cahier-style notebooks, from brands such as Moleskine, Field Notes, Doane Paper, Calepino, etc.

I was surprised that I only had 2 unused HandBooks left, as I had quite a few of those at one point. But the main thing that struck me after compiling this list is that I need to start using those cahiers more! I tried to use one for household notes like room measurements and furniture measurements at one point, thinking it would be helpful when shopping for some new furniture, but that project sort of fizzled out. I toy with the idea of using these small notebooks for single subjects or projects, or for drawing and doodling. They are lightweight and easy to carry, so I keep thinking I should be using them for listmaking, or for sketching when I don’t want to carry a daily notes notebook plus another hardcover sketchbook. I could even try carrying a few at a time bundled into a Traveler’s Notebook-style cover. I could be stretching out the lifespan of my nice old Moleskines if I used more of these cahiers.

Since I tend to use about 4-6 notebooks a year on average, including sketchbooks, the 75 non-cahier spares I currently have may only last about 12 years, or until I am about 57 years old. God forbid that I run out of good notebooks just a few years before I’m ready to retire!!! And I am very healthy (knock on wood) and have a family history of longevity, so I may need notebooks until I’m in my early to mid 90s. I can’t just say “oh, I’m sure I’ll have enough.” Proper planning is key. If my usage shifted to 2-3 full-size notebooks and 1 cahier a year, I’d be all set for about 30 years, til I’ll be 75. Assuming I keep blogging and paying attention to new notebooks that hit the market, I am likely to add some other acceptable notebooks to my collection during that time, so I may not have a shortfall until I’m even older. It still makes me a little nervous to imagine living out the final years of my life with only inferior notebooks to scribble in… and you always hear horror stories about people’s stuff being stolen when they’re in nursing homes… so I guess I will just have to keep collecting more spare notebooks to get me through!

 

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