Questions From Readers

Our extended family of notebook fans are always passionately searching for the perfect notebook. I’m often stumped by the questions I receive, so once again, I’m crowd-sourcing the research!

From Q:

Hi, I was wondering if you know of any places selling clear plastic covers for Moleskine Cahier or Volant pocket-sized notebooks? I have a passport cover that will just fit the width, but the height is about 10mm taller than a passport, so the ends stick out.

I have seen places selling artsy covers for Cahiers, but I am looking for a clear one.


Tom asks:

Forty or fifty years ago, whenever I went into a five-and-dime or drugstore, there was a stationery department. In this department there were always the little 6-ring pocket size notebooks. Actually, they usually were in two sizes: those that took 3”x5” pages, and those that took 4”x6”. But there was another variation. Some had the rings on the long side of the notebook, and some had the rings on the short side (the top). Now I am lefthanded, so writing in a small notebook with rings on the left is very difficult, so I always preferred the top-bound small notebook. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the top-bound 6-ring 3”x5” notebooks for at least thirty years, although the side-bound variety is still common. Nowadays, I am forced to use a spiral-bound (top-bound) pocket notebook, which is only marginally satisfactory for my purposes. My question is, do you know of any vendor anywhere in the world that still sells a notebook of the type I desire?


From James:

I’ve been reading Philip Hensher’s book The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting. In the last chapter he alludes to a shop in Geneva that stocks his favourite notebooks but – provocatively – declines to mention the name because he claims the staff are so “up-themselves”. Here’s the footnote quote in full:

I have a succession of notebooks, each about the size of my palm, bound in bright leather so you can’t mislay them about the house, with the perfect addition of an elastic cloth strap to stop the pages from flapping open and, more usefully, allowing you to keep your pen and notebook together and not to have to go delving into your man-bag saying that you could have sworn you had a pen with you. The notebooks are Swedish in manufacturer, and I would tell you where I get them, but the shop in Geneva is staffed by such up-themselves shop assistants that I really don’t think I want to put any more custom their way. Still, their notebooks are gorgeous, well worth it if you find the shop through your own initiative” (page 255)

Well, my initiative is to contact you! Might make an interesting blog post. If you know the answers (shop & notebook) please let me know!

The store could be Brachard, which I only know of via this post at Palimpsest, but no Swedish brands are mentioned.  Rationella and Ordning and Reda are two Swedish brands I’ve heard of. A Rationella notebook is featured in this post.


Pauline is looking to purchase or trade for some limited-edition Field Notes. If you have them, email me and I’ll put you in touch with her:

I am desperately seeking the following and have had no luck whatsoever. I seek a set, a Tattly Hustle set and one sketchXchange notebook.


From Thomas:

I am looking for a sketchbook (no lines, dots, or grids) with the pages made from vellum.

From Jane:

Do you know of another notebook that is the same size and thickness of a Moleskine Volant Extra Small, but that doesn’t have perforated pages? I don’t mind if it’s a little thicker, but I know the Moleskine Volant Extra Small is hardback and too thick/clunky in my pocket.

The Moleskine Volant isn’t actually hardback, so I think she means the extra-small hardcover Moleskine notebooks, which do not have perforated pages. I believe Writersblok had some small notebooks similar to the softcover Volants, but they might have had perforations too. Clairefontaine has some smaller sized staple-bound notebooks that I don’t think have perforations.

From Levi:

I’m working doing some research for a feature film that takes place San Francisco in the starting in 1958 and spans 10 years. One of our characters is a reporter and we would like to have the perfect looking notebooks for him. we should be able to source or replicate the books but I am wondering if you could give us a suggestion as to what the perfect notebooks (he might have different ones throughout the film) would look like. (a photo would be amazing, a brand would also be a great help.)

I was born in 1968, so I only know what I’ve seen in movies and photos, and I think reporters seemed to have pads that were spiral-bound at the top. But I’ll bet some other readers might have more suggestions.

If you can help with any of these questions, please comment! Thanks as always.

7 thoughts on “Questions From Readers”

  1. I think the swedish brand could be Jadeco.

    I think they are actually american, but they use swedish names for their designs and give the impression of being scandinavian, a kind of haagen dazs style of marketing.

    I found them in Hong Kong only, but maybe you can find them in Geneva…

  2. Google turned up a stupid set of hits for the history of the spiral notebook. Seems likely to pass as an authentic artifact for reporters in the 1950-60 era. You might research the star reporters from that era. Their personal sites or the sites of famous newspapers often have photos of them at work. Should be a notebook or two.

  3. To add to what david bogie said, I was thinking that George over at might have some vintage notebooks. He certainly has quite the collection of pens/pencils from past decades, and he might well be able to answer the question of what was popular then.

  4. I contacted Phillip Hensher on Twitter and he said that the notebooks he mentioned in his book are from Ordning and Reda. I went to Selfridges and bought one. Although the leather binding is attractive and of good quality the paper is very poor indeed. Not much better than copy paper.

  5. For Tom regarding left hand writing in a notebook, I just flip and start from the back side. Then the spiral is on the right.. I just decorate the other side so I know when I’m using which side is top, front or how ever you look at it

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.