Kikkerland WritersBlok Notebooks Now Available

I’ve been wanting to check these out for a while, and it seems they are finally more widely available. I picked up a set of 3 small dotted notebooks at Paper Presentation on West 18th St. in NYC. They also had the large size, and ruled and plain paper versions in both sizes. I’ve read that they are also being sold at the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store and Exit 9, a fun gift shop with locations in Manhattan and on Smith Street in Brooklyn.

My 3-pack cost $5.95 before tax– cheaper than Moleskine cahiers. But are they a good alternative to Moleskine? Let’s dive right in and find out!

First impressions: the 3-pack comes shrink-wrapped, and within that the 3 notebooks are wrapped in a single paper band. They have a plain paper cover with a stitched spine, very similar to the Cahiers. (Not smooth like the Moleskine Volants, one of which is shown here for comparison. The Volant is also slightly wider.) I like the colors they come in, a variety of muted shades– mine were a dark red, blue, and black. I saw other styles that came in lighter grey and green shades.

The front cover has an embossed rectangle– for some reason, I really liked this. It made me think of some old red-bordered labels I had as a kid, and I thought how nice something like that would look pasted into that rectangle… more on that later, though.

The back cover has the WritersBlok name on it, in the way most other notebook brands label themselves these days.

When you open up the notebook, you’re right into the paper– no cover page asking for your name and address. Inside the back cover, there is a pocket. There’s a little info sheet tucked in front of it, noting that some of the proceeds from these notebooks support literacy programs such as 826NYC, which cleverly disguises itself as the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Store. And it includes a nice message:

Writing is good exercise. It’s good for your mind in the same way that riding a bike is good for your legs. It’s a way to communicate, capture a thought, grow an idea. It helps you think, be more creative, and….it’s fun. And these are things we think are good and good for you…

The insert also helpfully points out that Kikkerland Design is located on “WETS” 127th Street in New York… hmm, wonder where that is?

I was also mystified by this little piece of paper in the back pocket. I thought, well, the pocket is kind of tightly glued down at the edges, maybe they’re afraid people won’t notice it’s there if they don’t stick this little thingie in it? The little thingie was tacked down lightly with a tiny bit of adhesive, but it was easy to remove.

How about the paper? I was so pleased with the first impression of the exterior of these notebooks that I almost forgot to try writing in one! Unfortunately, this started to burst the bubble a bit. The paper is pretty thin. It just doesn’t have as nice and smooth a feeling when you write in it, and the pens I tried showed through quite a bit, and the Uniball Vision Micro feathered somewhat.

I also noticed that the dot pattern on one of my notebooks was somewhat askew– if you look at the photos above, you may notice that the paper band was askew around the set, which was no big deal, but I started to notice even more asymmetry. One notebook’s spine stitching was a teensy bit crooked, and all of them seemed to curl up a bit at the lower right corner, I guess due to the way the pocket is attached.

And here’s the final bit of crookedness that really bothered me: you know that little slip of paper in the pocket? I finally noticed that the paper band mentioned an “optional use label” and realized that’s what it was! It took me forever to actually be able to pick the backing off this flimsy little sticker to place in in the embossed rectangle on the front cover… and when I did, I was really disappointed, especially after my nostalgia for my nice old labels! On these, the edges aren’t square, and frankly, it looks like I stuck a piece of masking tape on there.

The downside to these notebooks is definitely the quality. The edges had some uneven cutting, the details mentioned above were crooked, and the paper feels thin. But I like the colors and design, and it’s great to have a dotted paper option. For a very inexpensive, made-in-China, we’re-donating-proceeds kind of item, I guess I shouldn’t complain but I must confess I was hoping for something that would excite me more. Oh well– I’m sure other opinions will differ. Has anyone else tried these yet? What are your thoughts?

9 thoughts on “Kikkerland WritersBlok Notebooks Now Available”

  1. I picked up a pack of the small size a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t tried writing in them yet, but did sense that the paper is a little less quality than Moleskine cahiers and not even in the same universe as Field Notes. I also found it almost impossible to get the backing off the label. However, one thing I liked about these is that they don’t have a section of perforated pages like the Cahiers. I know some people like that feature, but I’ve never had much use for it.

  2. I’m of mixed opinion regarding these notebooks. For the most part, they’re not bad for the price, though the thinness of the paper is somewhat worrisome. It reminds me of slightly heavier tissue paper. Even with Uniball Signo Bit (.18) or the Signo DX .28 there is sufficient shadowing on the reverse for me to consider writing on one side of the page only. This is something I’ve never done, not even with Moleskines when using fountain pens. I do however like the dotted paper. For those who like blank pages but can’t write a staight line without some sort of guide beneath the page, it’s a great feature.

  3. I’m using a set of these right now and I’m quite enjoying them.
    I agree with a lot of your points: the stamp/sticker was useless and the paper is rather thin, but overall, they are working out rather well for me.

    I’ve cut one of the three in the set in half to make two pocket sized notebooks which are perfect for my back pocket.
    The others, I use for work, sketching out interfaces, icons and all that in colored pencil, regular pencil, various pens and even a light watercolor wash and it seems to be taking things well enough.

    Sure, the quality isn’t perfect, but it’s cheap, the dotted grid is perfect for me, and the flexibility of the cover is just what I need and I’ll be buying another set soon.

    If there was something with a slightly more opaque paper, but had many of the qualities I like with this set, I’d definitely look into switching over.

  4. I’ll line up with the fans of this notebook. I go through a lot of pages, so I find the overpriced Moleskine to be impractical for my purposes.

    I love the appearance of the WritersBlok covers – nice texture and attractive, grown-up colours. As far as the paper goes – I haven’t experienced any significant ‘bleed-through’ with any of the pens I normally use, and the ruled lines are exactly what I want. Not too narrow and not too wide.

    Next to the elusive Apica notebook, I think the WritersBlok has to be my favorite.

  5. I have just purchased a 3-pack Writerblok notebook, 7.5″ x 10″, plain.

    I tested one page with a fountain pen, a felt-tip pen, and a ball-point pen. The paper is smooth enough for fountain pen writing. Also, it holds the ink reasonably well; the ink does not bleed into the other side. It also handles felt-tip writing well. Overall, I think the paper is better suited for fountain and felt-tip pens which only require light touch to get the ink flowing.

    I like the soft yellow color of the paper; a break from the ‘white pollution’ from piles of printer papers at work. I also like the cover — mine are black, navy blue and wine purple — plain, no frills. The pocket in the inside part of the back cover may be useful, if I am on the run and need some place to stash some small notes or bills.

  6. These are bar-none my favorite notebooks. I have huge stacks of them. I recently got scared that they were not making these anymore and 15 of them. Since I teach math at a local college and I go through paper by the bale, I fill up a notebook every 4 days! Though the real selling point for me is the dot paper option. I need to draw a lot of graphs and diagrams, and they are so clear and easy to read on the dot paper. The dots are very fine, and unlike some other brand they really do vanish if you make a photo copy.

    I wish more companies had a dot paper option. I was quite happy with the label. They look very snappy with my course number on them. I use pastel colors mostly, the light blue-grey is my favorite.

  7. How do you name a line of writers’ notebooks writersblok?

    It’s enough negative reinforcement just to hear that there is such a thing, let alone to own one or more. Clever is in the eye of the beholder, eh?

    It’s almost as bad as a “news” program airing closeups of some criminal’s face 200 times a day for weeks (and then forever) as if it’s news or advances the story in some way. There is a set of values and choices beginning to appear ubiquitously around us that do not seem like Luke Skywalker made the selection. I’ll be looking for a different pad (and other sources of news, but I digress).

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