Random Giveaway!

Today, I just feel like giving away some notebooks. What the heck! I’m going to put together a lovely little surprise package for one lucky winner who I’ll randomly select from anyone who comments on this post by the deadline of Friday May 3, 11:59 EST. Feel free to spread the word via social media, but it’s not required to enter this time. Good luck everyone!

Whitelines Video

Cool video from Whitelines, telling the story behind their paper, and promoting their Indiegogo campaign to develop an Android version of their smartphone app.

via Whitelines Story V1.3 on Vimeo.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Susannah

Susannah’s blog post has lots of great photos of the 8 Moleskines she is currently using, each for a different purpose, including an art journal, prayer journal and “everything I want to remember for eventually” notebook.

See many more photos, including some closeups of her beautiful handwriting, at (life is too short not to) wear red shoes: moleskines..

“They remind me of my heart’s desire…”

From a lovely essay about using notebooks, by Elaine Fletcher Chapman:

Most writers I know work from notebooks. I carry mine with me, as Jason Shinder was known to advise, along with a folder of poems I am currently revising. Even on my shorter commutes, I carry the pair. They remind me of my heart’s desire no matter what I am doing or where I am going. Is there a difference between a writer’s notebook, a journal, a commonplace book or a diary? I really don’t think so unless the intent is so named. They address the everyday, the quotidian. They may record lists of books read and unread, grocery lists, quotes, receipts, reviews, found objects, letters, beginnings of poems, lines of fiction, descriptions of art, memories, arguments with lovers, photographs, the flow of tides, phases of the moon, words and their origins, and often momentos.

Read more at The Quotidian, Notebooks, Diaries, and Journals by Elaine Fletcher Chapman – The Best American Poetry.

Review: Piccadilly Softcover Notebook

piccadilly softcover01

This is another notebook I bought about 3 years ago and then immediately shelved. When I first examined it after buying it, I pretty much hated it. I bought it because it was cheap and I’d never tried a softcover Piccadilly, though I’d liked using some of their hardcover ones with graph or plain paper. But this softcover notebook only comes in lined paper, which I really don’t like using. The reason I hated it, though, is that when I took off the shrinkwrap, I realized that the elastic was so incredibly tight that it was warping the whole notebook. The whole thing seemed stiff and warped and dented by the elastic, and I was just so disappointed by the quality that I’ve been putting off reviewing it ever since.

piccadilly softcover17piccadilly softcover07piccadilly softcover02piccadilly softcover14

But a funny thing happened when I did decide to review the notebook. I started opening it and closing it and bending it, and just turning it over and over in my hand. I bent the spine back and forth, flexed the covers, and tested all my pens in it. And somehow by the end of all this, I had gone from thinking the notebook was a piece of crap to wanting to buy a whole bunch of them, if only I could get them with unlined or squared paper.

piccadilly softcover08piccadilly softcover05

The stiffness I initially disliked is due to an extra layer in the cover that sort of makes these notebooks almost a hybrid between a hardcover and a softcover. It makes the notebook thicker and chunkier, and it seems like it would be much sturdier than the Moleskine softcover notebooks (shown below next to a softcover reporter-style Moleskine).

piccadilly softcover04piccadilly softcover03piccadilly softcover15

piccadilly softcover19piccadilly softcover13

The notebook feels great in the hand, as it’s the perfect size and heft. And because it’s a softcover, there’s no annoying cover overhang, just a nice little brick of paper. Below is a comparison to a hardcover Moleskine:

piccadilly softcover12piccadilly softcover11

It does seem like the layers of the cover could start to become unglued– one corner is already coming apart a bit, but it’s in a spot that has been stressed by the tight elastic.

piccadilly softcover18piccadilly softcover16

The paper is ok but a bit thirsty. If you stop for 5 seconds in one spot with a fountain pen, you get a pretty big blotch that soaks through to the next page. It felt good to write on with all my usual pens, but there was more bleed-through than average. Show-through was about average.

piccadilly softcover09piccadilly softcover10

There’s something about knowing how cheap these notebooks are that makes me more willing to forgive certain flaws. The Piccadilly softcover feels like it could be a scrappy little notebook, not precious, not perfect– just something you can beat up and abuse and still enjoy even if it starts to fall apart. But you may disagree– I showed this notebook to a friend and asked her what she thought of it. She said she didn’t like it because it felt stiff and cheap, but when I told her how cheap it actually was (typical retail price $3-5), she said “Oh! Well in that case…” and agreed that maybe it wasn’t so bad.

It all depends on your personal priorities and preferences. If you are a fountain pen user and very picky about paper, it may not be the best choice. If you don’t live near a store where you can buy these in person after checking them over for defects, Piccadilly may not be for you. But for someone like me, the definition of a perfect notebook is more about size and shape and the absence of a cover overhang. I can tolerate almost any paper that feels good with a fine-point rollerball as long as it’s not lined or with overly dark graph paper lines. If the Piccadilly softcover came in squared or plain or dot-grid paper, I’d be searching stores to see if I could find good ones without too many flaws. I’m still surprised at how quickly I went from loathing this notebook to seeing it as a potential new favorite.


Spring Giveaway from Lovenotebooks: Paperthinks!

Our friends at Lovenotebooks are celebrating the colors of spring!


Lovenotebooks carries a wide selection of eco-friendly Paperthinks notebooks and stationery items in all these gorgeous colors. Paperthinks notebooks are made with 100% recycled leather covers with paper with 50% recycled content inside.

This week, you can enter to win the Paperthinks prize package pictured below, valued at $70. Prize consists of a Recycled Leather Folder in Lilac, a mini slim lined journal in Lavender, a large lined journal in Lilac and an XL notebook lined in Violet.

Lovenotebooks Prize

To enter, all you have to do is like the Lovenotebooks Facebook page, and leave a comment on their wall. (Make sure you leave the comment over at the Lovenotebooks page, not my Notebook Stories page!) The deadline to enter is Friday April 26. Open to entrants with US and Canada mailing addresses only. One randomly selected winner will receive a prize. Good luck everyone!


Disclosure: Though all opinions expressed on this blog are my own, and I have received no financial compensation for this post, Lovenotebooks occasionally provides sponsorship in the form of sample products.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Joe

This week’s addict emailed me the photo below, and added these comments:

The attached photo is of my notebook collection.  Being in the military I take 2 or 3 pages of notes everyday.  I carry a large rite in the rain. They are very durable in both design and paper quality. I have a moleskine in my cargo pocket and a Letts daily planner as well. Daily use at home and as I travel about Europe I have a moleskine in my pocket or at least within reach always. My favorite are the pocket size squared. The moleskine got this addiction started.  I love your blog and check it daily.

addict joe

I love this collection– some of the notebooks look nicely overstuffed– gets me every time! And we share a preference for pocket sized squared notebooks. Given that Joe is in the military, I’m slightly surprised he doesn’t have more of the standard issue green Federal Supply Service notebooks, but any true notebook addict couldn’t limit himself to those, even if they’re super cheap! Thanks for sharing your addiction, Joe!

Notebook Page by Shingo Ikeda

I am sorry to say that I seem to have misplaced the name of the reader who tipped me off to this intriguing image, from an exhibition called “Souzou,” featuring  the work of 46 self-taught artists living and working within social welfare facilities across Japan:

Untitled by Shingo Ikeda
Undated, artist’s notebook, collection of the artist

“Shingo Ikeda’s notebooks illustrate his calculations of the limitless journeys he might make on the Tokyo subway, or predictions of the outcomes of the baseball tournaments and sumo wrestling competitions he avidly follows.”

Read more here and at the page introducing the exhibition.

And thank you again to whoever sent me this link! Sorry I lost your email!

Review: Miquelrius “Boarding” Notebook

I bought this notebook almost 3 years ago and only just recently got around to unwrapping it. I almost didn’t buy it– though I immediately coveted it when I saw it at A.I. Friedman in NYC, it was priced at $17.60, discounted from an even more ridiculous $22! It’s just a pretty standard pocket size notebook other than the cover art, so that price seemed nuts… but I ended up talking myself into it, since I didn’t want to deprive my dear readers of a chance to check it out. The sacrifices we notebook bloggers have to make…

Miquelrius Boarding01

It’s a pretty nice little notebook. The art on the cover is by Divinas Palabras— I wasn’t sure exactly what or who Divinas Palabras was, but they seem to be a design firm, and Miquelrius offers other products under this brand. I thought the airline signboard design was cool, and it’s unfortunate that the elastic closure somewhat obscures it. The elastic is just like everyone else’s, but one thing I liked is that they got the length exactly right– not too long, not too short, just the perfect length to hold the notebook closed with a bit of tension, but also perfect for just wrapping around the back cover so it’s tucked out of the way. I tend to do this a lot, and I hate when it’s too long and floppy. The only thing I don’t like about the elastic is the holes in the cover where it’s attached. They seem rather large– I don’t like seeing a big gaping hole, there’s just something a bit ugly about it.

Miquelrius Boarding05Miquelrius Boarding06Miquelrius Boarding07
The back cover has a printed Miquelrius logo (not stamped like most notebook brands). There was also an ugly white sticker under the shrinkwrap, but the adhesive was light enough for it to be easily removed, with just a light residual stickiness left over.
Inside, there are black endpapers, which I always think look nice despite the difficulty in writing on them! There is a black pocket inside the back cover. There is also a ribbon marker, narrower than the ones used on many other brands.

Miquelrius Boarding08Miquelrius Boarding09
On first opening the notebook, I found the spine rather stiff, but it started to loosen a bit with use. The overall feel of the exterior is nice– squared off spine, slightly chunky feel, a bit thicker than a Moleskine. But unfortunately the cover overhang is pretty big, especially at the corners. It reminds me a lot of the Rhodia Webnotebook and a few other brands I’ve tried, where the black cover material is gathered in big folds at the corner. This is one bit of workmanship that I think Moleskine still does better than anyone else, though their corners are starting to get worse and worse too.

Miquelrius Boarding04Miquelrius Boarding02Miquelrius Boarding03

The paper is blank, though I remember the store also selling lined ones. The paper has a smooth feel to it, similar to Moleskine’s, but maybe just a tad heavier. All my usual pens felt fine on it, and bleed-through performance was a little bit better than average. Show-through was about average. The paper is not particularly “thirsty”– I sometimes try just leaving the pen in the same spot for 5 seconds to see how much the dot spreads out, and on this paper it stayed nice and tight.

Miquelrius Boarding10Miquelrius Boarding11

All in all, I’m glad I finally unwrapped this notebook. It’s not perfect but I will use it at some point, and the cover design will be a nice change of pace from my usual plain black. I’m not sure these are still available in stores, but if they were, I probably wouldn’t buy another one, as the extra high price ultimately doesn’t seem worth it. But I am happy to have it in my collection.

Art Journaling in Action

Cool video: a week of art journaling compressed into a few minutes!