“What catches your eye when buying a new notebook or journal?”

A reader named Steve asked this question in response to my Notebooks from Portugal post.

I have been “collecting” journals and notebooks for several years. I guess I’m first attracted to the cover and material first and then the pages. Then, after I’ve made the purchase, do I start to think about something useful for my notebooks rather than sitting pretty on a shelf (which isn’t a bad idea in of itself I guess).

What catches your eye when buying a new notebook or journal?

This is a great question, and I’m sure the answer is different for everyone.

For me, I think size is the first factor. I always gravitate towards notebooks that are in the 3×5″- 3.5×5.5″ size, with that height to width ratio that is equivalent to a golden rectangle. It’s just always been my favorite size and shape, and it’s an easy size to keep handy in a pocket or bag.

Next is color– I tend to be a minimalist, preferring dark solid colors for my notebooks, such as black, brown or charcoal grey, or sometimes a dark blue or green, or maybe a lighter but muted earth tone.

Then there’s texture– some notebooks just look like they’re made to be touched, especially ones with leather or suede covers. I’ve also seen some notebooks with cardboard covers that look almost flannel-like. I prefer soft, matte textures and don’t tend to like notebooks that look too hard and shiny.

Every once in a while I’m also attracted to a notebook with an interesting pattern or image on the cover, but they don’t tend to be the ones I just have to buy.

How about you? What catches your eye?

7 thoughts on ““What catches your eye when buying a new notebook or journal?””

  1. When I’m buying a new notebook, the pattern of the cover will often capture me. I have an eye for the extremely colourful and patterns. Notebooks with beautiful images on the front draw me like a moth to a flame. I like pretty things. Indeed, since I work in a designer-stationery shop in England, a lot of my paycheck gets spent on their products.

    If there is nothing on the cover that captures me, then often the smoothness of the paper will be the deciding factor. I do like lined pages, especially if the ruling is faint and doesn’t quite touch the edges of the paper.

    And rounded corners are very much loved also.

    For some reason, I’m slightly more picky than other people seem to be. I cannot write in notebooks that have brands or product information splashed across the front. It has to feel like a journal before I can use it as such.

  2. I agree with shape, size and color, but I have to like the paper. If it has lines, they have to be just right for the notebook. I hate small notebooks with wide ruled lines. These days I prefer either blank or the dot notebooks. Last year I was very attracted to long narrow books (for lists and such), but this year I like a medium journal that is thick.
    I can still be tempted by the look or style of a book. I also like vintage books from small pads handed out as advertisements to old ledger books.
    Now if I just had something to say!

  3. I’m pulled in the by the cover…. but before i even look closely at it I open it up to see how thick the paper is! If it is really flimsy paper I put it right back. Some beautiful notebooks have horrible paper o.O

  4. I just love notebooks with pretty covers. I can’t stand notebooks with plain covers. I don’t enjoy writing in them.
    For paper I love thick sizes because I write with watery ink and it has to be lined. I don’t mind bleed- and see-through as long as I still can read my writing.
    I like folio sizes because I like a lot of writing room.
    Unfortunately most of the books here never meet all of the requirements.

  5. The cover is my first deciding factor. That’s what makes me pick the book up in the first place. Nostalgic images are high on the list for me to consider purchasing. Peanuts characters and superheroes from the 70’s are big draws. The Moleskine limited editions have been a slice of heaven for me with Peanuts, Pac-man, and Star Wars themes. I’m not a big soft cover person, and I don’t like a cardboard feel. I highly prefer ruled pages that are dark enough to see. The paper quality usually isn’t a deciding factor for me. The cover trumps anything inside overall.

  6. GRID LINES! I won’t use it if it doesn’t have graph paper in it, even for writing, I just feel that it frees you to do waht ever you want…write sideways in it if you want to…Thankfully there are quite a few high quality gridded journals available out there.

  7. I prefer A5-A4 size notebooks so that’s the first thing I look for, preferably with a hard cover so I can rest it on my knee without the paper bending. But the paper itself is the most important, it can’t be flimsy, has to be able to take ink without show-through, and not too textured as a lot of my pens don’t like rough paper.

    Oh, and it has to be blank paper. If I need a grid for my drawings I do that myself.

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