Review and Giveaway: Schützen Notebooks

I received these sample notebooks quite a long time ago and I’ve been procrastinating about reviewing them. I try to be an objective analyzer of all notebooks, but it’s impossible not to have my own personal preferences and biases, and in this case I just have to say upfront that these notebooks are not really my thing. My favorite notebooks are pocket sized, minimalist, in neutral colors– and these Schützen notebooks are not really any of those things, so I couldn’t get all that excited about reviewing them. But now that I’ve gotten that admission out of the way, let’s judge them on their own merits, as many other notebook users will surely like them!


Each of these notebooks consists of a refillable binder and a wire-o bound notebook insert. I”ll take a detailed look at the smallest one (shown below next to a pocket Piccadilly notebook for size comparison). The binder is a solid and inflexible board covered with a stitched red leather-like material on the outside, and a patterned fabric on the inside. It is quite sturdy, and has a tab and loop to keep it closed, as well as a pen loop. Inside there is a clear plastic window for a business card, and a slanted pocket where you could tuck a few sheets– probably not too many, as I think the overall firmness of the cover wouldn’t accommodate too much overstuffing.


Inside, the wire-o notebook tucks into the back cover. The pages are unlined, with the Schutzen name in the bottom outside corner of every page. I think most users might prefer a bit more subtle branding on the actual pages, or none at all. Though the notebook is theoretically refillable, I’m not sure if the inserts are sold separately, and they’re actually a bit hard to get out– I slightly tore one of the holes in the back cover when trying to slide the notebook out.


When it came to writing on the paper, I was pleasantly surprised– it was nice and smooth and felt great with my favorite fine point gel ink pens.  It seems a bit heavier than average, though the paper weight is not specified. Fountain pens also performed well. I was interested to see that my Zebra fine point brush pen went on darker than it usually does on other papers, where it can tend to look rather grey. Showthrough is better than average. Bleedthrough about average, though I did notice that the Zebra fine brush pen bled a little, which it never has before. There must be something about this particular paper that wants to suck up that particular ink. But overall, I love the paper and would happily use it all the time in a different notebook format!


I didn’t test the other samples I was sent, but they have similar features, and presumably the lined paper they contain is similar. These are produced in the Philippines, and I’m not sure if they are for sale anywhere else outside the country. Their website and Facebook page don’t offer too many details, so please leave a comment if you’ve spotted these anywhere else! The quality and construction of these notebooks is very good, so if the bright colors and styles appeal to you, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed.

I’ll be giving away all 3 samples (including the one with pen tests on one page) , one each to three lucky winners randomly selected from entries received in any of the following ways:

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

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

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

The deadline for entry is Friday Jan. 17, 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.

Moleskine Monday: Lettering

Beautiful hand-lettering in a Moleskine planner:

See more at CUSTOM-OTHER 2 — LetterCult — Designspiration.

Notebook Addict of the Week: D Murphy

This week’s addict contacted me by email to share this photo:

d murphy notebooks addict

I love this collection– the almost architectural way they’re stacked and shelved, the consistency of notebook types and date/subject labeling. And many of them have a nice worn in look– not totally beat up, but that slightly dingy and soft look that comes from frequent use. And the sheer massiveness of the collection! I think I counted 136 notebooks! I’d love to know more about what’s inside…

I’m guessing most of these (aside from the composition books) are Moleskines, but some also look like they could be Markings, Piccadilly or softcover Miquelrius notebooks. There are some two-packs in the still-wrapped pile at top left that I think could be Clairefontaine, or perhaps Fabriano.  It’s fun trying to detect the subtle differences in a collection like this! Thank you D Murphy for sharing your addiction!

Lapin 2014 Planner from Miquelrius

I’ve admired Lapin’s notebook art for quite a while so I was happy to see he’s got a line of notebooks and planners with Miquelrius, including this one:

Screen Shot 2014-01-05 at 12.40.32 PM

See more at Agenda PASSPORT 2CV MR ART BY LAPIN | , | Agendas, libretas, cuadernos, carpetas, mochilas, estuches, bolsas, libreta, cuaderno, material escolar, mochila | Miquelrius-Papelería y complementos para profesionales y escolares.

Hot Tips! And a Cute Cat.

From the mailbag:

From Martin & Jeanette: We are a husband and wife team from Kent, England and we hand craft and hand sew our own range of leather notebooks and sketchbooks.
Here’s a link to our Etsy site:

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From Allison: I thought you’d like these — Peruvian hero notebooks, created by a company / art collective? (my spanish is poor) in Lima:
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Ashkan writes about his “series of notebooks and pocketbooks for musicians and guitarists in particular. It is a series called MUSIC PAPER. There are a number of designs with blank Chords, Staff, Tablature etc. A website tells a little more on the series:” You can buy them on Amazon: Music Paper notebooks


Paul, Rich, and Ebbe introduce the A:LOG notebook for architects. Fully funded on Kickstarter and available for pre-order now:

Fabio introduces TADA handcrafted letterpress notebooks:

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And from Emily:

“I was writing in my notebook and my cat seemed to think that i should be doing something else. “

Review: Hobonichi Techo Planner 2014

Here’s an exciting item to be my first review of 2014:


I’d heard about the Hobonichi Planner on a few other notebook sites, so I was very happy when their US marketing person contacted me to offer a sample for review. 2014 is the first year they’ve done an English-translated version of this planner, which has been popular in Japan for years. From their press release, here’s a bit of background:

In the West, Shigesato Itoi is best known as the writer behind EarthBound, a famous—and famously weird—videogame. In Japan, the copywriter is better known for his online magazine, Hobonichi, and a line of Hobonichi products as charming and unique as the game series itself. Amid each new collection of designer belly-warmers and +LOVE t-shirts and art books is their flagship product, a 400-page daily planner with quotes from Itoi’s long-running column (as well as Hobonichi’s most fascinating interviews) on each page, a precise, grid-based design, and carefully chosen materials.

During the year, the Hobonichi Planner is a repository for to-do lists, stray ideas, ticket stubs, and photos. But just as much work goes into making sure the planner outlasts its final page—the slogan, “Uncover Your Story,” is based on Shigesato Itoi’s hope that each planner will help tell you the story of your year well after you’ve lived it.

More than 10 editions later, each planner launch is an event in Japan, where Hobonichi Planner lovers line up outside stationary stores to buy the latest edition and browse the new designer covers. After a pilot launch in 2013, the 2014 planner is Hobonichi’s first worldwide release. It’s not just a productivity aid—it’s a companion.

First impressions: what an elegant package. It’s about 4 1/4 x 6″ (shown below next to a pocket Piccadilly notebook for comparison), with precise edges and tightly rounded corners. I’ve never seen such a small rounding diameter on a notebook corner before, and I really like it! The cover is a bit stiffer than that of a softcover Moleskine, and has the Japanese characters for techo and a nice little three-key logo. The spine says Hobo and the year.



Inside, you get grey endpapers, and then the beginning of the book lays out a year-to-a-page calendars for 2014 adn 2015, then a 2-months-per-page view, then a month-on-2-pages view for a handy look at the year ahead, plus a couple of months into 2015 for advance planning. Then you have the main section, with a day-per-page layout for the whole year. A “techo” is a Japanese planner that is meant to be used as a sort of combination diary/sketchbook/scrapbook, not just a calendar, so the page layout is not constrained with a strict schedule– you get a nice squared area, with the date and moon phase and holiday indicators at the top, a quote and small monthly calendar on the bottom, and a line at the left edge with a 12 in the middle, I guess in case you do want to divide the page into hours. The outer page edge has the months numbered almost like a thumb index to help you find your place faster. In the back, you get some free-form dot-grid pages, and helpful info such as the typical clothing size conversions, dialing codes and international holidays, plus the fun bonus of illustrated pages about Japanese Sake, sushi, and drinking tea around the world. At the very end, the last page gives you space to write your name and contact details.


I love the design and how much care has gone into it. All the little details make it special– I almost hesitate to describe them all here, because it was such a pleasure to discover them as I paged through the planner. The red ink used on Sundays was a particularly fun surprise. The quotes are from the Hobonichi online magazine, so many of them are from Japanese sources that most of us in the US won’t be familiar with. I was glad they weren’t from all the usual suspects on the usual topics– here, there are insights on design and style, and random funny stories. You can never be quite sure what will be next.

Writing in the techo is a rather luscious experience–  the book opens nice and flat, and the paper is smooth and fine.  My favorite fine point gel ink and fountain pens went on smoothly and flawlessly. But the downside of the fine paper is its thinness. Showthrough is more than average, and wetter pens can bleed through.


For some reason, I imagine the show-through bothering me less than in might in other notebooks– the whole concept of filling the pages with jottings and sketches and having the two sides blend into each other a bit is rather appealing. Check out the Hobonichi Love Tumblr site to see some of the ways people fill and decorate their planners, inside and out.

Speaking of outside decorations, that seems to be a major sideline for these planners. As is, it’s merely an insert for many users, and the online store offers a plethora of covers, which in many cases add the elastic closures, pockets and ribbon markers than the basic planner itself lacks. Numerous as their options were, I didn’t see any I liked better than this 3rd party offering (available here):

The price of the Hobonichi Planner is 2500 yen, which comes to just under $24.00 at current exchange rates. A Moleskine page-per-day diary is about $22.00, so when you consider the higher quality and fun features of the Hobonichi, I think it’s a great value. If there was any downside to this planner for me, it would be that it’s not my favorite dimensions– I love the 3.5 x 5.5″ size for my notebooks, so this is a bit larger than ideal, though I admit the extra page space is nice. But other than that, I really love this planner. Now I have to decide how to work it into my daily notebook routine, and fill it in a way that does it justice!

Moleskine Monday: Celebrating The Gettysburg Address

Letter-pressed Moleskine cahiers featuring quotes from the Gettysburg Address:

Letter-Pressed Notebooks Celebrate The Gettysburg Address | Co.Design | business + design


“To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, designer Craig Welsh decided to bring these timeless words into people’s daily lives. Through a Kickstarter campaign, Welsh successfully funded a “typographic letterpress celebration” of the address. He used his vintage letterpress to print a series of key lines from Lincoln’s speech onto the covers of a series of Moleskine notebooks: “All Men Are Created Equal,” and “Of the People,” “By the People,” “For the People.” Welsh has also printed the entire address on a series of high-quality posters, using a copper plate to mimic 19th-century printing processes.”

Read more at Letter-Pressed Notebooks Celebrate The Gettysburg Address | Co.Design | business + design.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Sarah

This week’s addict emailed me the photo below of her collection:

sarah notebooks

“I still have my first journal from 47 years ago. I restrict my collecting to sewn or ring bound books, no glued or stapled books. Some of there books were gifts, the group on the left are all from France and brought to me by a friend. The lines in them are marvelous. A few of them were made into photo albums, some are journals and some are sketch books. I am very glad I found the websites about paper, pens, pencils and all things office, as they have taught me a lot about something that has been a fascination since before kindergarten.
Since I also collect writing instruments of all sorts, learning about how different paper works with different ink has been a big help.”

What an interesting and colorful collection. I am most intrigued by the light brown one in the 2nd row from the right, 3rd from the front. It looks old and nicely worn in, and there’s an interesting pattern on the cover. I wonder if that’s the first one from 47 years ago??
Thank you for sharing your notebook addiction, Sarah!

Notebook Innovation? Or Overkill?

Here’s a couple of new notebook concepts I’m not too sure about:

The Sorta Is a Flexible Notebook with Removable, Rearrangeable Pages.



Sorta. The Adaptive Notebinder. from YoonCo on Vimeo.

As others have pointed out, there was already a solution to this problem– the 3-ring binder. I guess you could argue that the Sorta is thinner, but there are other types of notebook binders that are also fairly thin, so I don’t find this totally revolutionary.


Then there’s the Wipebook, which is a spiral notebook containing 25 double-side pages with the wipe-clean surface of a whiteboard:

Wipebook turns an old-fashioned notebook into a portable whiteboard (VIDEO)..


I’m not totally seeing the big benefit here either– if you want to erase what you write, you could just use pencil or erasable ink, or you could use an iPad or other tablet if you want a combination of saved and erasable notes.

I may just not be the audience for either of these products, but perhaps others will love them? In any case, it’s nice to see people experimenting with ways to re-envision what a notebook can be.

Notebook Addict of the Week: AK

This week’s addict posted the photo below on Flickr, titled “All the Notebooks I Used in 2013″. Looks like Moleskine, Leuchtturm, Pukka Pads, and Pocket Dept, all nicely lined up and labeled. And displayed in a nice almost-rainbow of colors!

See the original at All the notebooks I used in 2013. #moleskine #leuchtturm #journal #journaling #notebook | Flickr – Photo Sharing!.

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