Review and Giveaway: Flexbook Notebooks

I was very excited when I saw this new brand in my local stationery store (NYC’s A. I. Friedman). I was immediately smitten with the design and intrigued that the notebooks were made in Greece– a new country to add to my collection. After getting in touch with the company, I was happy to receive a lovely assortment of samples to review. Let’s take a look!

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Flexbook notebooks are made in Greece, but sold by a French company called Prat Paris. Inside the notebooks, you get Italian Fabriano paper– talk about European unity!

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The simple design caught my eye– I’ve always liked the look of a cloth-taped spine, and the Flexbook is available in a few different color combinations. The cover itself is a fairly stiff cardboard– I would call this a “softcover” notebook, as it’s not a thick wrapped board, but it’s not floppy or flabby. There is an elastic closure, and subtle embossed branding on the front and back. On the back there is also a round holographic stamp. The label notes “All original Flexbook patented binding products carry the holographic label,” and I have to say I’d rather they’d chosen some other mark of authenticity, or located the holograph on the inside of the cover– I don’t love how shiny and blingy it is against the otherwise very classy and understated exterior.

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The pocket size notebook is almost the same size as a pocket Moleskine, just slightly smaller.

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Inside the notebook, you get plain black endpapers but no inside pocket or ribbon marker. At the front there is a page with branding info and a space to write your name and contact details.

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The binding is indeed very flexible. The notebook opens flat throughout, except on the very first page, which is glued to the endpapers pretty far in. And you can fold the covers all the way around without damaging the spine. However they’ve glued and reinforced the spine, it delivers as promised.

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The 85 GSM paper inside is a creamy white and very smooth. I found it a pleasure to write on and all my usual pens worked well. Fountain pens didn’t feather at all, though they took longer than usual to dry, as you’ll see from my smear tests, especially with the J. Herbin ink in the Lamy. The only pens that bled through were the Accu-Liner and the Super Sharpie. Show-through was about average.

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Blank and ruled versions are available in various sizes. In addition to side-opening notebooks, there are also top-opening pads with perforated paper. A sketchbook version with heavier paper (170 GSM) is also available in 2 larger sizes. Pricing on these is slightly less than Moleskine– list for the 3.5 x 5.5″ version is $12.55. You’re trading better paper for the ribbon marker and back pocket you’d get in a Moleskine, but I think many notebook users will be happy to make that swap. On Amazon, unfortunately, these are priced higher than list from a 3rd party seller. But you can get them at a 10% discount (at least at time of writing this post) at BLICK ART MATERIALS.

I will be giving away a sample Flexbook notebook to each of two lucky winners, who will be randomly selected from entries received in any or all of these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “Flexbook Notebook @NotebookStories”, and follow @NotebookStories

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

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

The deadline for entry is Friday July 15, 2016 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.

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Notebook Addict of the Week: Jennie

This week, we have another repeat addict. Jennie Sisler was previously featured back in 2011. Here’s a more recent look at some of her collection!

“I could have a problem here.”

This time around, she reveals the root of her notebook addiction:

“If anyone is to blame for this, it’s my dad. He worked for a paper company for 42 years and even though his particular plant made corrugated box inserts, he taught me about  how paper is a renewable resource (eat that, plastic bags!) and instilled a love of all things paper-y in me from an early age. So Daddy, I’m sorry but this is your fault!😉

Read more at: I Might Have A Problem | Jen’s Rambling Thoughts

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Beautiful Bullet Journals

I’m amazed at some of the spreads you see online of people’s bullet journals– some of these are works of art that go way beyond just detailed organization and tracking!

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See more at These Instagrammers’ Bullet Journals are organizational masterpieces

Some Famous People’s Notebooks

This is an oldie but a goodie and worth linking to again! A collection of wonderful notebooks belonging to various artists, authors,  musicians and others:

Nick Cave’s notebook:

Keith Haring’s notebook:

See lots more at: A Peek Inside the Notebooks of Famous Authors, Artists and Visionaries – Flavorwire

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Notebook Addict of the Week: Joshua

This week’s addict is Joshua Blevins Peck, a librarian, writer, musician and photographer who has amassed quite a collection of notebooks all devoted to one topic– recording all the movies he watches, over 4000 of them so far! I’d say he’s a movie addict as well as a notebook addict.
Here’s what Joshua has to say about the source of his notebook addiction:
“I watch a lot of movies and in 1998 decided to keep track of every movie I watched that year, while writing short reviews, tracking what city I saw it in, who I saw it with and numerous other stats I enter into its pages. I called the project Kinetoscope as a nod to early film history. 18 years later and I’m still doing it! I’ve logged over 4,000 films seen in 59 cities, in 10 countries and with 129 different people. My notebook of choice has been quite varied over the years, but in 2016 I discovered the Hobonichi Techo and with its amazing Tomoe River paper perfectly blending with my fountain pens–it will be my notebook of choice as I continue onward with my addiction.”
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You can see more of  Joshua’s creative work at  joshuablevinspeck.com

Thanks for sharing your addiction, Joshua!

Custom Notebooks at Ito-Ya

Fancy a visit to the paper concierge?

“Attention paper sophisticates: Ito-Ya, the legendary 111-year old Japanese stationery mecca will make your dreams come true.
On the fourth level of their newly renovated 12-story emporium in Tokyo’s Ginza shopping district, a counter called “Note Couture” is dedicated to creating the perfect writing pad, on the spot.For about $9 per 60-page notebook, you can mix-and-match ruled, lined, and blank pages in various hues; debate the spectrum of notebook cover choices; and obsess over the right spiral binding color.”

Source: A 100-year-old Japanese stationery store lets customers design the perfect, custom notebook — Quartz

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Antonio Lopez’s Journal


An absolutely gorgeous page from a journal belonging to Antonio Lopez, a Puerto Rican fashion illustrator whose work is being celebrated with an exhibition at the Museo del Barrio in New York. I love the mix of elements on this page– the old fashioned ledger with numbers and notes then covered by these elegant drawings…

Read more at: A Nuyorican Artist’s Career Survey: Loud, Proud and Timely – The New York Times

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U. S. Government Printing Office Memorandum Notebook

Here’s a really cool item I snagged on eBay:

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This is an early version of the Federal Supply Service notebooks I’ve reviewed here. I don’t know when they changed the information on the back, but from googling the Government Printing Office and the Federal Supply Service, my theory is that the US government used to manufacture these themselves, but at some point, the Printing Office narrowed its responsibilities to printing and binding government documents, and blank memorandum books became something that the government would procure from an outside vendor. The Federal Supply Service falls under the GSA, and is now part of the Federal Acquisition Service. Someone there must be responsible for getting bids from printers to produce these notebooks for military and government workers. It’s nice that they have kept the same “Memorandum” cover design for many decades, even if the materials and construction of the notebooks has changed over the years.

The person who sold this notebook to me offered some background about its original owner:

“The little book was my grandfathers. He was born in Palermo in 1881. He was a wonderful professional artist. He taught art. He was a fashion designer. His work is at the national museum of art. His name was Roger (Ruggero) Pierotti. He also was a comedian early in his life and an actor. He is in a couple of early Charlie Chaplin movies. He led a very colorful life. He devised an outfit of one side being a soldier and the other side being a civilian, which he wore to sell war bonds in both WWl and WWll. The media featured him in the papers. He was immensely Proud of my father, his son, who was a well known political and sports cartoonist – John Pierotti.”

The notebook doesn’t contain any sketches, alas, but it does have what seem to be business records of items bought and sold, and notes about various songs in different musical keys. He also recorded his rent payments– $18 a month!
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I love knowing a bit more about the man who wrote these notes, and this notebook is one of my favorite items in the vintage and antique part of my collection.

Notebook Addict of the Week: MissVickyBee

This week’s addict is another YouTuber called Miss VickyBee, who has a variety of lengthy videos in which she talks about her various journals. This one is about 25 minutes and goes through all the journals she is currently using (or was using as of its 2014 date).

 

There are lots more to explore!
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Review: First Draft Notebook

A new American-made notebook is always exciting, so I was very happy to be offered a sample of the First Draft notebook for review.

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The one I received is a lovely red color– navy and sand are also available. The first impression is of a solid, well-made, chunky mid-size notebook. I had a flashback to the library books of my childhood– that is what the cloth cover material reminds me of, and if it’s as durable as those library books, this should be a nice, long-lasting notebook! The cover is neatly wrapped at the corners but there is quite a large cover overhang, which longtime readers will know is something I happen to dislike! The First Draft logo is embossed on the front cover, while the back is totally plain.

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The size is 5.5 x 8.25 inches, about an inch thick at 224 pages. The notebook comes with a removable horizontal elastic that has a sewn-in pen loop. It’s a nice touch, especially with the First Draft branding on the patch, though I worry it would easily get lost since it’s not attached to the notebook. There is a matching ribbon marker, but no back pocket. The inside front cover is attractively designed with space for your contact information.

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The binding is designed to open flat– the covers fold back very easily and the pages do stay open pretty easily with good access to the gutter, especially after you’ve opened it a few times to loosen up the binding.

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Inside, the 70# paper is a bright, cool white, unlined. It is smooth and works beautifully with fine gel ink pens, but I’m afraid fountain pen users will be disappointed, as those inks feathered out– I could see the lines spreading as I wrote– and bled through. Overall show-through was about average, but bleed-through was a little worse than average.

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At $22 for a notebook of this size, it’s not a bad value, especially for something that is made in the USA. For those who tend to write with gel ink pens or pencils, and want to support a home-grown small business, First Draft is a good choice for a solid, well-made everyday notebook. You can buy them at First Draft’s online store.

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