Field Notes 50 States Boxed Set

I know I should probably show a little more love to Field Notes brand notebooks. Lots of notebook fans seem to adore them, and it’s very admirable that they’re designed and made here in the good old US of A. And it’s nice that their aesthetic celebrates a bygone era of promotional  memo books used by farmers. But their aesthetic is what sometimes makes me say, enough already! Can’t you just make a nice, plain notebook that isn’t so self-consciously “about” its own design?
It’s an interesting era to be selling notebooks: Moleskine’s marketing was the first to up the ante, and other brands like Ecosystem have jumped on the bandwagon with over-the-top marketing. Field Notes has done lots of interesting things to expand their brand and encourage collectors to make frequent purchases: limited editions in beautiful colors, add-on products like pens and pencils, and now County Fair notebooks for each of the 50 states, available in 3-packs with a red, yellow and blue for a single state, or 1 per state all collected in a $99 box set: From AL to WY and Everything In Between.

The makers of Field Notes have actually journeyed to at least one country fair to promote their product: there they are in Onawa, Iowa in July:

Other field trips have included such hotbeds of authentic agricultural Americana as Brooklyn and Manhattan (NYC, not Kansas), where I’m sure the presence of hipsters hawking expensive, design-fetish-y memo books was a bit less incongruous. 🙂

Anyway, I can appreciate what they’re trying to do– their marketing is creative, their products (and website) look great, they’re supporting independent manufacturing in the USA, and from what I’ve read, the paper inside performs well. But although at least one reviewer finds these “less ostentatious” than Moleskines, my verdict is that Field Notes end up being a little too twee. I’ll stick to plainer notebooks that stop touting their own coolness once you’ve taken off the wrapper.

8 thoughts on “Field Notes 50 States Boxed Set”

  1. I’ve not yet tried the Fieldnotes brand, but this looks like an excellent excuse to visit all 50 states and create a travel record with each of the books.

  2. I agree that Field Notes tends to the twee and self-congratulatory, but in a way they are keeping faith with their inspiration. Those “feed store” memo books were really advertising vehicles that celebrated the product being advertised and the company behind the product. Often ad copy was interwoven with blank pages for making notes. So, if Field Notes advertises itself in its notebooks, then it’s sort of a post-modern version of those old memo books. I actually find that less intellectually dishonest than Moleskine’s continued insistence that their notebooks have some connection to Hemingway, Van Gogh, et. al. Field Notes makes a solid, lightweight little notebook and I love ’em.

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