Notebook Addict of the Week: Laura

Here’s another reader who sent in a photo of all the journals she’s completed– she’s currently working on journal #36. I think I see hardcover and softcover Moleskines, and maybe an Ecosystem journal?

Thanks to Laura for sharing her addiction, and sorry it took me a while to post it! If you are a notebook addict too and want to show your obsession to the world, email me a photo!

The Little Blue Book

Nrepose of Unposted tipped me off to this rather nice-looking variation on the classic moleskine-ish notebook: the Little Blue Book, from a website called The Forgetful Gentleman. (They also sell a few styles of cards, which will please all who advocate the preservation of handwritten correspondence.)


This may be another case of over-the-top marketing for a notebook, as evidenced by the photos above and this description:

“While the Little Black Book has gained notoriety as the pocket companion of playboys with more show than substance, its a little known fact that throughout history true gentlemen have always carried a Little Blue Book to capture fleeting moments of inspiration and genius, wherever or whenever they may be.”

Uh-huh, and true gentlemen also probably know when to put an apostrophe in “it’s” and a hyphen in “little-known.” But getting past all that, I have to say that I LOVE the fact that it’s blue. Not fluorescent blue, not turquoise blue, but a gorgeous, old-fashioned navy blue, just like the pocketbook your grandmother took to her DAR luncheons. (Actually, they should make a version for women and call it the “Grandma’s DAR Pocketbook Journal,” or something like that, to appeal to gentlewomen!)

In all other details, it’s pretty standard: 9×14 cm size, ribbon marker, elastic closure, lined pages, interior pocket, embossed logo on back, and a place to write your name on the inside, with the header “This notebook belongs to a Forgetful Gentleman.” The cover is said to be made of “PU Leather.” While my inner third-grader wants to claim they mean it’s “pee-eww” smelly, stinky leather, my online research uncovered this definition:

Bicast leather (also known as bycast leather, split leather or PU leather) is a split leather with a layer of polyurethane applied to the surface and then embossed…. The use of the term ‘leather’ in relation to this bicast treatment is considered a misrepresentation and therefore not permitted in the United Kingdom and New Zealand. Furniture made with bicast exhibits none of the characteristics associated with genuine leather; it will not develop a patina or suppleness nor otherwise “improve with age”. With constant use the polyurethane layer will crack and split free of its backing.

I’m glad I looked this up, as I’d wondered about the “bonded leather” cover of the Markings notebook — sounds like a similar process of making a cheap, leather-like material that has enough leather content to allow it to be called “leather,” at least in some countries.

The Little Blue Notebook is $12.00 plus $5.95 shipping (within the continental US) for up to 4 notebooks. At 5, the shipping increases to $12.95. At 13, it’s $24.95. At 17, it’s $32.95. I didn’t test all the other quantities beyond that, so suffice it to say that this will not be the cheapest notebook you’ve ever purchased, nor will it be the most expensive. Which seems very gentlemanly to me.

Harvard Square Notebook, late 1960s-early 1970s

This notebook has a lot of sentimental value for me, as it belonged to my father. I remember seeing it in his desk when I was a kid and wishing he’d give it to me– my notebook lust started at a very young age. But I wasn’t supposed to be poking around in Dad’s desk, and I never saw him actually writing in this notebook– so to ask him for it would reveal that I’d been doing something naughty! But when I was going through all Dad’s papers after his death last year, I found it again, still in the same drawer where I’d remembered finding it 30 years earlier.

The notebook was bought in the Boston area, I’m guessing in the late 1960s or early 1970s based on a few dates noted within. The cover says that it was distributed by Brooks, of Melrose, MA– this was a drugstore chain which has now been absorbed by Rite Aid. I love how the notebook was marked down from 29 cents to 23 cents!

What’s most fascinating to me about the notebook is the window it provides into my father’s mind. He was always compiling lists of numbers– data on various things such as the economy, household projects, etc.– and jotting down books and music that he wanted to buy.  This notebook was no exception. The page below was gas mileage tracking:

The next one has a company address, and seems to note that they sold a certain type of ring binder for holding film negative strips, which he must have bought as he had several that held old negatives and slides.

My dad was pretty obsessive about his lawn, and obviously did extensive research on the topic, though I’m not sure if his huge book collection actually included the title noted below:

There are lots of other weird things like this– notes about rainfall, distances between streets in our neighborhood, the heights and diameters of various food product cans, and lots of other cryptic numbers whose meaning I’ll never know.

But the best thing about the notebook are the pages below (click on the images for a larger view). My father always liked to tell stories about the funny things I said as a toddler, and this was where he wrote some of them down. The dates indicate that I was between 3 and 5 years old, and I have to say I’m kind of impressed by some of my attempted vocabulary! I’m also a little embarrassed by a few things– how did I manage to think there was a fairy tale called “Pencil and Gretel?”

My mom was pregnant with my little sister when I was about 4, which is where the “baby might be ready to blast out” and “open your mouth so I can talk to him” comments came from. Notes on other pages have me talking about my dad’s “poundcake check jacket” (i.e. houndstooth) and saying I was going to “deject some blood” into a patient while playing doctor! (But I don’t know who “Dr. Turnoff” was.)

Inside the back cover were more quotations, and a slip of paper where I’d done my best to write the Jack and Jill nursery rhyme.

My father was not a very emotionally expressive man– though I always did know that he loved me and was proud of me, it still means a lot to see these concrete signs of it. This will always be one of my favorite examples of the way notebooks can preserve precious things.

Review: Rhodia Notepad

Sometimes simple things are the best, don’t you think? It almost seems superfluous to review a notebook like this basic Rhodia pad, which the lovely people at Exaclair included when they sent me a Webnotebook to review. But I will do my best to subject it to my usual scrutiny!

This pad is a “Bloc Rhodia No. 16,” their 5.8 x 8.3″ format. Here’s the front cover, with the traditional Rhodia logo. You can see the staples that hold the cover on, and the scored lines that allow the cover to fold over easily:

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Here’s the back cover, listing the various formats of Rhodia pads. The typography has a lovely old-fashioned look to it.

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Here’s the side view:

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The pages are perforated for easy tear-out, and the back has a stiff piece of cardboard under the orange cover so it stays rigid when you’re writing.

And here’s that lovely 80 gsm Rhodia paper in action. I had to write in it with an orange Uniball Signo RT first, to celebrate Rhodia’s signature color! The paper, of course, performed quite well with my usual rollerball pens but my Super Sharpie bled through a lot. I’ve yet to find a notebook that can stand up to that thing!

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So, bottom line, what’s not to like? It’s a nice basic pad and it’s Rhodia, so it looks cool. Works for me!

You can buy the various sizes of Rhodia pads for around 30% off the list price at Blick Art Materials.
Blank Pads

Moleskine Monday: Saying Goodbye

Geeklet writes about parting with a beloved Moleskine:

You see, I don’t normally finish the things I begin. I write stories, I draw pictures, and then I promptly destroy them, delete them, throw them in the trashcan…to say I am destructive is a true understatement.

Regardless, this notebook, the one pictured here? It made it. In November, it will be one year old since its birth – its first words. Of course, I will finish writing in it tonight, as there will not be enough paper left for me to finish anything I should begin writing tomorrow.

The moment is almost sorrowful – I’m sorry to see it get shelved, with its finished pages, and the sticky-notes marking my favorite scenes. But of course, there is also joy, the joy of a new beginning. I will make a new friend, form a new relationship, and eventually it, too, will end.

I’ve felt that way about a few notebooks– but the sadness of finishing a favorite was always balanced out by the excitement of starting a new one!

Geeklet: Goodbye, My Beloved Moleskine..

Journals for Sale in Phoenix

Here’s an ad on Craigslist for a batch of brand new journals for sale in Phoenix:

I HAVE A BUNCH OF REALLY NICE JOURNALS THAT I’D LIKE TO HAND OFF TO SOMEONE FOR $50. They are leftover from a group and need to sell immediately. Please bring all offers!! View the pictures and see what a steal this is! I hate to see them go at a loss but I have no use for them anymore. Willing to break them up for $3-$4 a piece based on size.

Some are like faux suede and most have the Tri-Fold panels to open it up. Most of the smaller have bookmarks as you can see from the photo.

The ad was posted 1/21, so I’m not sure if these have been sold, but you can see more details and images at: Journals, Notebooks, Notepads, etc.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Victoria D.

Our latest addict of the week is a regular reader who submitted this photo of her stash, safely guarded by two interesting little figures:

Looks like a nice collection of Piccadilly and Moleskine notebooks, plus some other brands I don’t recognize, all ready to filled up with creativity, perhaps some early drafts of her blog posts at Artsy & Ambitious!

Thanks for sharing your addiction, Victoria!

Question from Reader: Notebooks by Aurora Productions

A reader named Kevin wrote to me to ask if I’d ever seen these notebooks for sale in the United States: Aurora Productions. The company is Belgian, but Kevin bought some of these A4 exercise books at Ryman’s in London:

I was even more intrigued by their “Bur-o-class” linen-covered notebooks, which look really nice. They seem to come in lined and graph versions, some with alphabetical index tabs. For some reason, I find it insanely cool that the letter tabs seem to alternate between black and red!

Aurora seems to make quite a variety of other notebooks too. My email to the company hasn’t been answered yet, but I’d love to find out more about these! Anyone have any info for Kevin and me? Thanks!

More Info on Moleskine’s New Packaging and Quality Control

Graphic Arts Magazine has some news on Moleskine’s new packaging for 2011 planners, including quality control codes and QR codes that will link to the Moleskine website when you photograph them with certain phones.

Not sure what the source is for this info, but you can read more at Legendary Moleskine notebooks announces new improvements | 2010/01/ | news | Graphic Arts Magazine.

Setting Up a New Notebook

Do you start the year by setting up a new notebook or planner? What’s your method? Dustin at Stepcase Lifehack shares his steps for starting a new Moleskine for 2010:

Since I make a big deal about using a Moleskine (or similar notebook) as an always-with-you productivity tool, I thought I’d share exactly how I set mine up. It’s not super-complicated, but it might give an idea of how a simple pad of paper can hold together all the strains of an insanely complex life.

My strategy is simple: Make it as easy as possible to pull the thing out, use it, and put it away. No messing around to find the right section, no page numbers, nothing fancy. A few tabs, judicious use of the bookmark and elastic strap, and a good fine-tipped pen. And that’s it.

Read more about the specifics at Getting Ready for 2010: My Moleskine Setup – Stepcase Lifehack.