Notebook Addict of the Week: Marie

This week’s addict blogs about “writing, reading and tools” at Presents of Mind. She has been collecting notebooks for about 13 years– a sampling of the results are below:

Moleskines, Miquelrius, composition books and more, plus some cool vintage labels to identify them! An excellent collection.

There’s lots more commentary and photos at My Notebook Obsession | Presents of Mind.


Cynthia Rowley’s Packing List Includes Notebooks

From the New York Times website, designer Cynthia Rowley talks about favorite things to bring along on her travels, including journals for her kids to record their adventures, at around the :57 mark:

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Via Can’t Go Without: Cynthia Rowley.

Just a Bad Batch?

I was in a newly opened Staples store the other day, where they had a couple of big displays of Moleskines. I don’t recall seeing Moleskines in Staples in the past, so perhaps they’ve just started carrying them. But what I was very happy to see was that of the stock they had on hand, most did not seem to have terribly wide cover overhangs. Over the last few months, the Moleskines I’ve seen elsewhere have been lousy in this respect, with the corners sticking way out– see this post for more details, though that example I bought was far better than others I left on the shelves. I was despairing that I’d never again find a Moleskine without this problem, but seeing the stock in Staples has given me hope that they’ve made some efforts to correct the problem. Maybe it was only particularly bad in a few print runs.

Moleskine is the notebook brand that gets the most flack for quality control corner cutting, mainly because they are the biggest upscale notebook brand out there, and their corporate ownership changes and marketing strategies are so high profile. They’ve made such a big deal of associating themselves with the European artistic and literary tradition that people are really shocked and angry to discover that they’re mass-produced in China. But what about other notebook brands? Surely they have quality control issues too? I recently spotted a rather shocking example.

For many of us notebook aficionados, Rhodia is the anti-Moleskine. It’s the brand that can do no wrong, beloved by fountain pen users and revered for its paper quality. According to everything I’ve read, Rhodia notebooks are still made in France. (Sometimes the wording makes me wonder if it’s just the paper that is made in France, with the assembly of the notebooks done elsewhere, particularly the Webnotebooks, since they are more complex than all the other Rhodia pads. But I will take their word for it and assume they really are made in France.) France obviously has a better reputation than China when it comes to quality of manufacturing. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single complaint about Rhodia’s quality control. So I was very surprised to see some very sub-par examples amidst a shelf-full of Rhodia webnotebooks at a Manhattan store called Envelopper (if you are looking to buy Webbies in NYC, they seem to have the widest selection). Unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to snap a picture, but the differences were shocking– the outer wrapper was a very dark reddish orange, very noticeably different from the usual signature Rhodia shade. The cover overhangs, which are always a bit bigger on Webbies, were WAY bigger than usual. The printing on the packaging looked a bit off. Everything I could see about the notebook from outside the shrinkwrap just looked a bit off. I’m tempted to go back and buy one just to see if there are other problems inside too.

Perhaps these just slipped through their usual quality checks. Perhaps they’re cutting corners a bit. Perhaps Rhodia’s French workers were on strike. Perhaps some counterfeiter is sneaking cheap imitation Webnotebooks into the market. Who knows. Has anyone else noticed similar issues? Please tell!

A Handmade Travel Journal

A really interesting look at someone’s custom designed travel journal holder, with a strap to fasten in the journal, plus pockets for favorite art supplies:



Read more at Week 6 of Designing a Creative Travel Journal | — ✄ – ✄ – the smallest forest – ✄ – ✄ —.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Feisty Red Hair

This week’s addict wrote a great blog post about her love for notebooks:


Notebooks make me joyously happy. I can’t walk past a stationery store without ducking in to check it out. I caress the notebooks, flip through them, smell their pages, massage the covers, and usually walk out with an aching heart unless I’ve forked out the money to take one home. I’d happily spend my days surrounded by paper, whether in blank form or printed. It’s my personal Zen….

I decided to visit my closet to have a closer look at all my old, filled notebooks from the past fifteen years of my life — ever since I started keeping a journal at age 11. This is what I found:

Basically, this is the story of my whole life squished onto a window seat.

There are 37 notebooks there, far more than I ever imagined. Some are small, some are big, most are average, but it still adds up to one heck of a lot of words.

An excellent collection, with lots of variety! I see a Moleskine or two, and maybe an EcoSystem, but lots more I don’t recognize! And she’s another traveler who visits stationery stores…

Read more at My Notebook Addiction | Feisty Red Hair.

Review: Paper Republic Notebook

The lovely sample below arrived from Vienna, where Paper Republic is based. This is an example of their Noto collection, and it’s quite an international notebook: the Chiyogami paper cover is screen-painted by hand in Japan, the pages inside are made of Swedish paper, the notebook was bound in Budapest, Hungary and then was hand-numbered in Vienna.

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From the company:

“Paper Republic’s mission is to craft authentic notebooks and journals according to traditional paper-making, printing and book-binding techniques.”

I love the result– it is beautiful and unique while being classic and very simple. When I opened the package, I went “oooh…” You can tell that care has gone into the binding and assembly. The quality seems very high, and everything is tight, square, and symmetrical. I like the look of the branding, and the hand-numbering is a nice touch.

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The notebook is about 3 3/4 x 5 3/4″, just slightly bigger than a pocket Moleskine.

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The paper inside is smooth, but with a very slight tooth to it. All my usual pens worked well, with fountain pens showing a bit more saturated color than they do on some other papers. Some of the wetter pens feathered out a little bit, but bleed-through was a bit better than average, and show-through about average.

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I hope these notebooks will be making their way to some stores in the U.S. soon, but in the meantime, the Paper Republic website is offering free shipping worldwide. Other gorgeous cover designs are available, as well as a larger size. The small Noto notebooks are €14.95, which is a bit steep at the current conversion of about $19.95 USD, but for something of this quality, including shipping from Europe, it doesn’t seem outrageous. It’s nice to see a new notebook brand that pays such attention to detail and features such unusual, beautiful designs.

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1919 Electrical Engineer’s Notebook

I forget how I came across this but it’s pretty cool. From a 2008 eBay sale– I wonder who snagged it!

Hang Fire Books: 1919 Electrical Engineer's Notebook, Abstract Plumbing Poster and 1950s Telefilm Pressbooks

Read more at Hang Fire Books: 1919 Electrical Engineer’s Notebook, Abstract Plumbing Poster and 1950s Telefilm Pressbooks.

Notebooks Organized Neatly

Another nice image containing notebooks from Things Organized Neatly, this one by Andy Barron. The one in the bottom right could be a DesignY notebook. In the middel, probably a Moleskine Cahier. I’m not sure about the other notebooks, but the other funny thing I noticed about this picture is that I have the same USB drive and white ink pen!

Things Organized Neatly: SUBMISSION: Brooke Fraser by Andy Barron..

Moleskine Monday: New Brand Look?

Moleskine’s got a new look, at least for their website and ads. I wonder if they’ll start to use this new concept on the notebooks themselves, or their packaging?

Over the past few years, the company has diversified into areas such as apps and print-on-demand services – and a new identity for the brand created by Milan-based agency Achilli Ghizzardi Associati is built around the concepts of flexibility, organisation and an open space for creative ideas to flourish.
What this translates into in real terms is a monogram of a three-x-three grid of squares featuring the curved corners that have been a notable part of the design of Moleskine’s notebooks. The top-left square is replaced by a capital M from Moleskine’s logo, which has been tweaked from the Copperplate original to create an original face.

Read more at Inside Moleskine’s identity redesign by Achilli Ghizzardi Associati – News – Digital Arts.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Derrick

This week’s addict blogs at I Still Write about some of our favorite things : letters, postcards, pens and notebooks! He started the blog to teach his kids about the fast-disappearing world of snail mail, and how cool it is to write and receive good old-fashioned paper correspondence to and from places around the world.

Derrick accumulated quite a collection of Field Notes:

But he probably doesn’t have all of these anymore, as he offered them as prizes in a drawing people entered by sending him postcards, some of which are displayed on his blog too. What a great idea.

Read more at i Still write: Ooo. Ooo.. Ooo.. SHOW and Tell time.., and if you’re so inclined, send Derrick a postcard! (I can’t promise he’ll be giving away any more notebooks, but he does say he’ll write back!)