An Unusual-Looking Notebook

The Tumblr site Things Organized Neatly is often a good place to spot notebooks. When people lay out the stuff that’s in their bag or on their desk, a notebook is often included, though usually they are recognizably Moleskines without any distinguishing wear and tear.
This entry does seem to feature a Moleskine (upper right corner), but it also has a very intriguing notebook in the middle of the page.

With an orange ribbon marker and orange elastic closure, I’m guessing it’s a Rhodia Webnotebook, but the outside of the notebook has either been painted white or there’s some paper glued on. It looks like it might have a student’s weekly class schedule on it.

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Whatever it is, I like the looks of it.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Ruth Ayres

This week’s addict was another one found via the wonderful Sharing Our Notebooks site. I just couldn’t resist this photo!

Going through my notebooks, I find a driving force in my life is asking questions. It’s a strategy I’ve returned to across time and genre. Check out these notebooks…see the sticky tabs? They mark the pages where I’m asking questions. Questions are one of the lifelines to keeping my notebooks alive.

About Ruth:

Ruth Ayres’s mission is to change the world through story. Ruth’s story. Your story. His story and her story. She does this in her professional life as a K-12 writing coach for Wawasee School District, a presenter about teaching writers, and a blogger at Two Writing Teachers. She does this as a writer, playing with many writing projects, and on her blog Ruth Ayres Writes. She does this as a person in  ordinary life, collecting words and photos in order to remember the tiny moments that add up to big living. All of this leads to lots of notebooks filling up the spaces of her life.

Read the full post for more of Ruth’s insights about how she uses notebooks as part of her writing process:
Sharing Our Notebooks: Ruth Ayres: Fierce Wonderings.

Check out Ruth’s book too: Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice

From the Mailbag

A few quick links from my overflowing email inbox– thank you to all the readers who submit tips and new product news!

Suede-covered notebooks by ORCA.

Leather notepad holders by Tusked Crescent

Make your own Midori Traveler’s Notebook inserts

K&Company Smash Notebooks

Fabrice’s Notebook Art

Walt Whitman’s Pocket Notebook

The Hobonichi Techo Planner:

Online stationery boutique Inkthistle

First Page Last: 18 Journals. 30 Years. (2013-1983) A Serial Blog.

Good Nature Notes

The Inspiration Pad:








Review & Giveaway: Palomino Luxury Notebook

The kind folks at sent me a couple of samples of their Palomino Luxury Notebooks. I was excited to try these, as they looked like they were adding some interesting tweaks to the typical notebook, and because I had seen that they were being made in collaboration with the Turkish brand Fabio Ricci, one of whose notebooks I picked up in Istanbul and quite liked. The owners of Palomino seem to be following in Moleskine’s marketing footsteps by trying to create a distinctive brand identity, tying the Blackwing pencil brand to a historic legacy. But in the case of these notebooks, they are selling them more on the basis of being a higher-end, better quality notebook than the competition. From the Palomino Brands website:

“Each notebook features 160 pages of acid-free, 90 GSM paper and a hardbound cover.

Tastefully designed to combine modern technology, premium materials and traditional artisanship perfected by generations of Turkish printers and book binders, these notebooks have the look and feel of elegance that has long defined the Palomino brand.”

So let’s take a look…

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The Palomino Luxury Notebook stands out at a glance because of the orange spine and the debossed motif along the edge of the front and back covers. As you can see from the comparison below, it is slightly bigger than a pocket Moleskine, though both are supposedly 3.5 x 5.5″. The cover material is slightly smoother and glossier than a Moleskine, a bit more leather-like. The notebook feels very solidly constructed and substantial and the extra details give it a feel of quality. One little thing I noticed is that although the cover is thicker than that of a Moleskine, the rounded corners of the cover are very neatly tucked in– this is something that is frequently sloppy on other brands of notebooks, where they don’t take the time to properly trim the black cover material so it will wrap tightly around the board underneath.

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The only downside to the exterior appearance is that the orange spine seems to be painted on with something that starts to show hairline cracks when the cover flexes. Over time, I’m not sure if this paint would start to flake off. (But the spine does bend nicely when the notebook is opened– it seems stronger than a Moleskine spine, and less likely to start tearing at the corners.) You’ll also notice that the cover overhangs the pages by quite a bit, which is a pet peeve of mine.

Inside, there’s a space for your name and other details on the inside front cover– why the name is set apart from the other lines, I don’t know. Inside the back cover is a paper expanding pocket– it’s a bit skimpy in size, and lacks the cloth reinforcement in the sides that many other brands have.

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Inside, the paper is smooth, but a bit less so than some other brands. Oddly, a few of my pens seemed to “skid” a little on the surface, not sure why, but it was mainly the fountain pens. The lines go all the way to the edge of each page. All my usual pens worked pretty well with better than average performance on bleedthrough, and about average levels of show-through.

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You can buy these journals at or via Amazon for $12.95, the same list price as a pocket Moleskine. I think it’s a great value. Many of the “luxury” features of this notebook are design elements that may or may not appeal to your personal preferences, but there is definitely a level of quality and attention to detail here that is a cut above some of the competition. Medium size is also available, in lined or plain paper. also sells other Blackwing Luxury Notebooks in medium and large, with lined, plain and squared paper– the non-Palomino ones have plain black exteriors and may be preferred by some who don’t care for the orange spine.

And since I have an extra sample, here’s our exciting giveaway! I will select one lucky winner from entries received in the following ways:
On Twitter, tweet something containing “@pencilscom” and “@NotebookStories, and follow “” and “@NotebookStories.

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

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

The deadline for entry is Friday May 31 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!
And please remember to check my posts on Facebook and Twitter for an announcement of the winner.




A Polar Explorer’s Notebook

From an exhibition at Dartmouth College:

“James R. Crawford’s notebooks. Crawford was a ship’s engineer on the Canadian Arctic Expedition (1913-1918) organized by Vilhjalmur Stefansson.

The notebooks, diaries and logs kept by expedition staff like Crawford provide valuable insight into the weather, ice conditions, and wildlife in the Arctic. Crawford, for example, kept daily detailed weather notes.”

Read more at Polar Connections: Dartmouth and the Earth’s Cold Regions.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Ellen Gregory

This week’s addict is an Australian writer of fantasy fiction, who posted the following on her blog:


Like many writers, I suspect, I have a notebook addiction. (The kind you write in with a pen.) These days there are so many gorgeous ones available — even in common, mass-market, office supply stores. And it’s the inexpensive ones that are the most dangerous… because it seems perfectly acceptable to buy a few more when they’re only $3 each….

Read more at You can never have too many notebooks | Ellen Gregory.

Can Notebooks Help the Japanese Have More Babies?

Weirdest notebook story of the week:

With Japan’s birth rate stuck in low gear, the Abe administration has come up with a new idea to make babies: convince the women to have a child earlier rather than later.

It plans to give out notebooks to all young women – and perhaps also to young men – to get that message across.

The notebooks, to be available from next April, will indicate the most appropriate timeframes for pregnancy and childbirth.

Japan’s low birth rate is said to be partly due to women opting for late marriage and delayed childbirth in recent years. In 2011, it stood at 1.39, far short of the 2.07 needed to stop the population from shrinking.

The “Women’s Notebook”, as it has been dubbed by the media, is the brainchild of a government task force which feels that young Japanese women need to be informed about the importance of not putting off childbirth.

Announcing the proposal earlier this month, Ms Masako Mori, the minister in charge of birth issues, said: “As (a woman) grows older, it becomes harder to become pregnant. The risk to mother and unborn child also increases. We must spread this knowledge among teenage girls and upwards to enable women to make choices and plan their lives.”

But the proposed notebook created an uproar among women, who saw it as the government attempting to blame only the female gender for the low birth rate. They also resented the government’s interference in their private lives.

Read more at Japanese women trash ‘notebook’ idea for having babies.

Moleskine Monday: Custom Books

It’s become quite common for people to customize Moleskines by having a company logo stamped or printed onto the cover. Sometimes there might even be some custom content inside. But it is relatively rare that actual books are published using a Moleskine notebook as the medium.

Here are two that I own:

The first is the ADC Young Guns 6/ Undiscovered Letter set. It’s basically a collection of spreads on different graphic designers, published each year by the Art Director’s Club. A wide variety of work is featured in the book, along with a guide to all the selected designers. It’s a fun book to flip through, lots of inspiring images.

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The set also includes a softcover book called The Undiscovered Letter, in which people who had been selected as “Young Guns” in the past were invited to envision a 27th letter of the alphabet, and the results were published in this book, to help raise awareness of the lettera27 non-profit literacy organization.
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More info here on Moleskine’s website.

I forget how I heard about this other Moleskine book, 0.00 Night. This one is a project by an independent publisher called Zeropuntozerozero (that’s the 0.00), featuring the photographs of Renato D’Agostin and various people’s musing on what night means to them. More info here.


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In both of these books, I just love the way Moleskine’s slightly cream-colored paper takes the color printing and gives photos a soft, slightly retro look. It’s like Instagram on paper! And these books are from a few years ago, when they kept the page edges really tight to the covers, no nasty overhang! Both of these are in the pocket size format, which is especially appealing in the thick, chunky Young Guns book.

I’ve always liked collecting small books that are about the same size as my favorite notebooks, so these Moleskines are the best of both worlds for me!

Notebook Addict of the Week: Stefanie

Aside from notebooks, one of my other great loves is books. So I completely identified with this week’s addict’s linking of the two :

Bookish people tend to like books with words already in them as well as books that are blank and waiting to be filled by their own hands. I know I do. You should see the shelf of notebooks I have collected over the years, oh wait! You can, sort of:


I couldn’t get all of them in the photo, the shelf stretches off to the left out of the frame for almost the same length that is in the photo. The vertical pile on the right are unused notebooks waiting their turn. You are looking up at them because they are on a high shelf in a closet. They are in a closet not because I don’t want them to be seen, but because I don’t have enough shelf space outside of the closet on which they might reside.

You can read the rest of the post, which includes a video of someone comparing Moleskine and Leuchtturm, and a lot of comments discussing notebook brands and usage, at A Ramble on Notebooks | So Many Books. Check out the rest of her posts about books, too!

CIA Agent’s Notebook

I’m sure everyone’s seen the news stories about the supposed CIA agent trying to recruit Russian spies in a rather goofy manner. Here’s all his super-secret-agent-y stuff: wigs, cash, weapons… and a notebook!

Read more here.

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