A reader named Lisa kindly sent me these Federal Supply Service notebooks after seeing my post about them having been featured on A Continuous Lean. It was very cool to get my hands on these, as I myself am not a federal employee, and therefore can’t buy them (at least, theoretically. There are places online where you seem to be able to get around that).
I’d love to know the full history behind these notebooks. They’ve obviously been the standard notebooks for military personal and other government workers for quite a while, though the design has evolved over time. I guess it makes sense for the military to have standard notebooks that fit in their uniform pockets, but what about other government workers? Are these the only notebooks that federal employees are authorized to purchase? Who actually has the contract to manufacture them? Are they made in the USA, despite their extremely low price?
As for the notebooks themselves, they have a nice, no-frills look to them. The green colors are quite nice. The quality of the construction seems solid, but it’s nothing fancy or fussy– don’t expect perfect edges and corners that line up 100% square. But that’s not the point: these aren’t meant to be design objects, they’re meant to be functional, and they’re meant not to cost taxpayers a fortune.
The pocket size notebook is taller and narrower than the standard pocket Moleskine format. It’s extremely flexible and forgiving– you can roll it up and then roll it back the other way, and it will end up pretty flat again. The pages have a bright blue line, heavier than what you’d find in most lined notebooks. The paper feels very soft and thirsty, and soaks up ink quite readily. I love the logo on the front cover– they’ve changed these pocket notebooks from hardcover to paperback over the years, but they have kept that old-fashioned “Memoranda.” On the back, you have the product number.
The hardcover has sharp, square corners and the boards overhang the pages by quite a lot. On the back, there’s a barcode and the product number. The paper has the same soft feel to it, but the blue lines are much thinner than in the pocket notebook. If you’re a prolific journaler, these notebooks would be a good choice– they’re cheap and they’d look great all lined up on a shelf together. But you’d probably want to use a fine pen that would bleed through less.
Thanks again to Lisa for giving me the opportunity to review these!