Review: Paperblanks Notebook

A commenter recently asked why I don’t talk more about Paperblanks notebooks on this site:

I love your reviews! I’m curious about something. The few times “Paper blanks” notebooks are mentioned by other contributors or commenters on your site they have nothing but praise and great things to say. But what I’d really like to know is what you think of them. Is there a reason why you never review them? I’d like to know if they’re too over-rated by all the other people who mention them.

I haven’t been avoiding reviewing Paperblanks for any particular reason. The company has never contacted me or sent samples, and though I’ve admired some of their notebooks in stores, I haven’t been inclined to buy them because the ones I’ve seen almost always have lined pages rather than the squared or blank ones I prefer. And some of their cover designs, while attractive, are just not the look I prefer for my own notebooks. But not long ago, I did find this particular Paperblanks notebook which appealed to me enough to buy it.

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It’s from a collection called “Old Leather,” and I love the way it mimics a nicely distressed leather, perhaps an old suitcase with reinforced corners. The outside is totally smooth, but there is a slight debossing of the corner stitching detail. The cover is quite thin and slightly flexible, without too much of an overhang. The corners are rounded to a slightly larger diameter than the pocket size Moleskine shown below for comparison.

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The endpapers inside are a slightly metallic bronze color. There is info about the notebook on the inside back cover, but other than that, and a small logo in the inside front cover, the notebook is free of branding once you remove the sticker on the outside. It comes off easily without leaving any residue. Given the nice brown leather color scheme, I was surprised they put a red ribbon market and black elastic closure on this notebook. I would have kept it all brown to blend in. But here’s a neat touch– the elastic closure is attached underneath the back pocket, so it doesn’t show at all on the back cover. I wish more notebook brands would imitate this feature, as I often leave my elastics tucked out of the way around the back cover anyway.

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The notebook has a slightly rounded spine, and opens quite flat. The creamy white paper within has a slight pattern on it– not really a texture, more like a watermark. The paper is very smooth and feels great with fine gel ink pens. It performed quite well with all my other pens too, including fountain pens. (The ink cartridge that came with my Lamy Safari ran out just as I tried to test it, so I switched to a refillable cartridge containing a J. Herbin ink for the first time.) The paper feels quite thin and fine, so I was surprised when I flipped the page over– showthrough is about average, which was better than I expected, and it’s actually quite good on bleed-through.

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I paid $11.95 for this notebook, and I am very pleased with it, as the quality, value and features add up to a great package. It definitely goes in the “use someday” pile. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this style is part of the current Paperblanks line-up, but they do have some other designs that are the same size and unlined that I’ll be keeping an eye out for.

11 thoughts on “Review: Paperblanks Notebook”

  1. I love the Paperblanks line because the paper quality usually matches the beautiful covers–something I don’t often find.

    The paper differs considerably from design to design though. Though the quality is good, not all of the journals are fountain-pen friendly.

    Like you, I wish more of the designs came in squared or blank.

  2. I love the variety that Paperblanks has. And in South Africa they are readily available which is not the case with a lot of the brands that people love. Agree with you about squared ruled notebooks. My favorite. Thanks

  3. I really rather like Paperblanks notebooks, and am accumulating their Japanese lacquer ones.. Am glad that all my pens – even my Noodlers ones – work on their paper just fine!

  4. An excellent review, the quality you get for the price is really impressive. Paperblanks are one of our best selling brands and the range is extensive too. We’re currently stocking over 70 2014 Paperblanks diaries and 20 journals due to popular demand.

  5. Nice review.

    I, too, like Paperblanks but haven’t bought as many in recent years. My favorite of theirs is their Intricate Inlays collection. I still have some of those waiting to be used.

    Their recent notebooks have often been strange in some way: weird metal hinges as notebook closures, plastic straps with magnets inside as closures, curved shape notebooks, tall but abnormally thin notebooks, etc.

    I prefer a normal elastic closure and a standard size– 3 x 5 or 5 x 7 — not 3 by 7 or something disproportional.

    I haven’t seen Paperblanks make many “normal” notebooks in recent years. They also have such a variety of ‘editions’ in each design that it’s hard to find them all. I can’t find many stores locally that carry them, and even only it’s hard to find the one I want. Plus, their prices have gone up over the years. I can’t bring myself to pay $20 for a paper notebook. I’ve paid more than that for a leather notebook, but paper? Sheesh. Paperblanks used to be about $12 or less for 5 x 7 and that was bearable.

  6. Big fan of Paperblanks. We never receive complaints and their ability with transforming paper covers into little works of art is quite something. Some of the other comments mentioned they are hard to find. We carry every single style that is in production in our store. Shameless plug I know, but for those searching for a specific hard to find style probably worth it.

  7. I LOVE the paper blanks w/ famous authors’ manuscripts and artists’ work on them. Still trying to get my hands on the Frida Kahlo one…

  8. If anyone is interested, I am selling my brand new Frida Kahlo Double Portrait Paperblanks journal. Never-been-used. Please see my local Craigslist ad if interested.

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