Category Archives: Brands

Notebook Addict of the Week: Matt Hutcheson from Wanderings Notebook

People who start companies to make notebooks are usually notebook addicts– here’s a case in point. The Wanderings Notebook is a refillable leather notebook similar to the Midori Traveler’s Notebook. But on the company’s blog, Matt Hutcheson offers an agnostic appreciation of notebooks in general, with this shot of the his collection, plus some thoughts on how to select the type of notebook that will work best for you. Or rather, the different factors that you might consider in buying ALL the notebooks that work best for you!

“Here at Wanderings we make The Wanderings Notebook and are super proud of it, but that doesn’t mean weren’t not, ahem, slightly addicted to every kind of notebook and journal in existence.”

 

Read more at: Finding the Best Notebook For Writing, Sketching, Lists, and Life – Wanderings – Journals, Notebooks, Journeys

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Jibun Techo Planner

The Hobonichi Techo has become a cult favorite over the last few years, but it’s not the only Japanese planner system out there. I noticed the Jibun Techo at the Baum-kuchen website:

“JIBUN TECHO will be a good fit for you if you:

–manage your agenda with monthly/weekly but does not need a predated daily page.
–enjoy creating a weekly spread as your life log.
–are in search of a light weight planner to bring with you everywhere.
–LOVE Tomoe-river paper. “

The layouts look elaborate but fun, with a bit more color and more icons than the Hobonichi, which may please people who like a really dense page design. The planner shown above is meant to be used as part of a system, with additional notebooks for “life” and “ideas” that can be tucked in a binder with it.

There isn’t that much information about the system in English, but I found a couple of blog posts with detailed reviews:

Belle Cooper blog

40 and Above

See more at: Baum-kuchen – JIBUN TECHO 2018 [PRE-ORDER]

Grace Coddington’s Smythson Notebooks

Grace Coddington is well known in the fashion world as an editor, former model, and author. Now she’s also a spokesperson for Smythson. Most of the linked article is promoting their various leather bags and accessories, but I loved getting a glimpse of this well-worn address book!

I bought a Smythson address book a long time ago and no longer use it actively, but every time I come across it while rummaging through my collection, I appreciate how classic and iconic their notebooks are. They sure are expensive, though! I don’t remember how much I paid for mine, 20+ years ago, but I remember feeling like I couldn’t afford it at the time. They used to have a whole line of address books but nowadays, they don’t seem to sell them at all, except as refill inserts for other planners– a casualty of the smartphone and social media age, I guess. But they do still sell lots of notebooks and organizers. I kind of want one of these, except that they only seem to come with lined paper, and they’re $75:


 

Back to Grace Coddington, she also has a pretty fabulous set of colored pencils, which you can see  below:

 

I went looking to see if I could find it on Amazon– didn’t see one exactly like that, but these are close. I hope I win the lottery so I can buy one!!

 

Read more at: Travelling With Grace Coddington – Smythson Travel

BLACKBOOK by Nuria Mora

Absolutely stunning notebook art, by Nuria Mora, a Spanish artist based in Madrid. It looks like it was made with a Moleskine Japanese Album.

See more at: BLACKBOOK | Nuria Mora

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Denik Notebook Review & Giveaway

Today I’m finally doing a long overdue review of a Denik notebook. I’d first noticed this brand quite a while ago, due to their colorful point of purchase display, which I saw first at a booth at either the BookExpo convention or the NY NOW Gift Show at the Javits Center, or perhaps in a store in Brooklyn, I forget which. But wherever it was, the display was hard to miss due to the broad array of vibrant cover designs. I was thrilled to receive a free sample to review from Denik.

The Denik brand is all about creativity and activism. Their ever changing assortment of designs come from artists of all types. A portion of the proceeds from each notebook purchased goes to either the artist who designed the cover or to building schools around the world. Learn more here.

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The sample I received is one of their softcover notebooks, with a cover design by Katrina Houskeeper. The size is 5.25 x 8.25″, with 75 sheets/150 pages. It comes shrink-wrapped, and underneath, has an attractive grey-shaded cover with gold-stamped “Crazy Ideas” logo. The cover material is a soft feel to it and is said to be water resistant. The design continues on the inside front and back covers, which I love.

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The notebook is perfect-bound, so it does not lie flat– but I got this sample a while ago and Denik has since changed their construction to smyth-sewn and describe their softcovers as “lay-flat” so they have addressed that issue– yay! (They still say the page count is 150, which I’m trying to figure out, since I thought sewn signature notebooks always had page counts in multiples of 4. Maybe they glue in one extra page??)

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Inside, there is lined paper, which feels pretty average to the touch, not overly smooth, but gives a really nice gliding feel with most pens. Show-through is about average, and bleed-through slightly better than average. Some fountain pens feather a bit. Unlined paper is also available, and they also offer leather bound sketchbooks, and spiral bound notebooks and sketchbooks.

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At $11.95, the softcover notebook is maybe a teensy bit on the high end of reasonably priced, but I think that is OK given that it is made in the USA and benefits good causes. If you love collecting notebooks with colorful, unique covers, you’ll want to give these a try. You can find them at many retailers, or order online at the Denik webstore, or you can enter the giveaway for some prizes provided by Denik! We are giving away 5 Notebooks, one each to 5 different winners!

For this giveaway, the entry rules are a little different, so please read the instructions below carefully. I have just launched a Notebook Stories account on Instagram, so this will be my first Instagram giveaway!
To enter:

  • Follow @shopdenik on Instragram
  • Follow @notebook.stories on Instagram (make sure you have the “.” in there, as “@notebookstories” without the “.” is someone else!)
  • Tag a friend in the comments on my Instagram post about Denik. You can better your chances of winning by tagging more of your friends. Please keep it to one tag per comment.
  • You can also enter by posting a comment on this blog post with your Instagram account name, but you must be following @shopdenik and @notebook.stories in order to be eligible to win.
  • The deadline to enter is Friday October 20, 2017
  • You must be in the US to enter.

Winners will be announced within two weeks after the end of the entry period. Thanks and good luck everyone!

 

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Bradford Morrow’s Boorum & Pease Ledger

An excellent article at LitHub by Bradford Morrow, author of the just-published Prague Sonata, among other books. Really interesting look at a writer’s process and why he prefers physical note-taking to digital methods. Big thanks to reader Raymond for sending me the tip!

“My memory is good, but capricious at times. My scraps of paper get misplaced or wind up in the laundry. I don’t want to figure out dictation software. And my thumbs are hopeless, which is only part of the reason I hate texting. In an era of smart phones, palm-sized digital cameras, and featherweight laptops—also known as “notebooks”—the very idea of lugging around a heavy, folio-sized, hardcover Boorum & Pease record-ruled 9-300-R ledger or oversized black spiral-bound artist sketchbook, would seem at once masochistic and medieval. Yet, these behemoths, straight out of some Dickensian accountant’s office or landscape architect’s atelier, have served as my notebooks of choice for well over 20 years.”

Read more (and see lots more notebook images) at: Why Digital Note-Taking Will Never Replace the Physical Journal | Literary Hub

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Art Alternatives Pen & Ink Sketchbooks: They’ve Changed!

I have mentioned the Pen & Ink Sketchbooks from Art Alternatives many times on this blog. Their pocket size sketchbook with the heavyweight paper is the closest alternative I’ve found to a Moleskine Sketchbook, for those who prefer creamy smooth paper, as opposed to the brighter white, toothier paper found in many other competitors’ pocket sketchbooks (such as Hahnemuhle, HandBook Artist Journals, Leuchtturm, and Art Alternatives’ Sketch & Draw). Check out my “Four Notebooks Reviewed” series from several years ago for a detailed comparison.

I’ve used a few of the Pen & Ink sketchbooks over the years and they never seemed to change much– even their packaging was the same… until now. While trying to meet a minimum for free shipping at Blick, I decided to throw in a couple of these sketchbooks, but I got a bit of a surprise!

Here’s the image for what I ordered:

 

But here’s what I got:

I couldn’t care less if they change the design of the paper band, and in fact the new branding is quite attractive, but I was horrified to see that they’ve changed the construction of the notebook itself to the diagonal elastic that Art Alternatives has used on their Sketch & Draw line for a while. (See my Sketch & Draw review).

I didn’t like the diagonal elastic on the Sketch & Draw, and I don’t like it on the Pen & Ink. Very disappointing update– I wonder if they’ve changed anything else about the notebook, but I haven’t even taken the shrinkwrap off to investigate.

Jet Pens has updated their product image, so they are selling the new version. Amazon still has the product images with the orange bands, but like Blick, they may actually have stock with the new design, since the UPC codes are the same. If you order from them, you’re taking your chances, but since the listing says there are only a few units left, maybe it’s from older stock with the orange band and vertical elastic? (The product descriptions have been wonky on Amazon for years– there is a disconnect between the image and the actual paper weight. This listing seems to be the medium weight sketchbook with 192 pages of 54lb paper– don’t buy it unless you want the lighter weight paper comparable to a regular Moleskine. This listing has the same product image, and references 54lb paper, but the title says “heavy weight” and the customer Q&A indicates that the description is wrong and the product is actually 92 pages of 110 lb paper, similar to the Moleskine Sketchbook paper weight.)

The price on these at Blick is just fantastic– currently $5.69 for the pocket size sketchbook. And their customer service department was great about resolving my issue of not wanting this version of the product. It’s not like I desperately need more sketchbooks anyway, but I can’t help being sad that they changed these! I’ve ordered one on eBay that seems to be the old design, just because, well, you know…

Let us know in the comments if you’ve recently seen stock of the old design, or if you’ve tried the new ones!

Phil’s Stationery, NYC

Phil’s Stationery is a gem– assuming you like messy, dusty, old-school office supply stores, that is! I’d never heard of it until a few weeks ago when I happened to meet someone for lunch nearby and saw this amazing sign:

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There are so few stores like this left in NYC, especially in what must be a pretty expensive location on 47th St. not far from 5th Avenue. I didn’t take any photos inside the store, but as you walk in, there are large displays of Rhodia and Clairefontaine notebooks, as well as a counter with pens. As you go further back into the store, there are also racks of Moleskines and Filofax, and shelves with a wide variety of other notebooks, ledgers, pads, pens, etc. The further back you go, the messier it gets– there are shelves with all sorts of random products jumbled around. It has some of the same time-warp quality as the Montclair Stationery store I wrote about in this post.

I only bought one thing:

notebook

I haven’t bought a spiral bound notebook like this in years, but I couldn’t resist! What brand is it? Where is it made? It’s a mystery, as there are no markings on it other than what you see on the front cover. Some other colors were also available. And the price was right: $1.09, including tax!

Moleskine Monday: Cartoon

Spotted in a recent issue of the New Yorker:

It’s funny, but also kind of a shame that writing in a notebook in a public place has to be seen as pretentious…

Notebook Addict of the Week: Abigoliah Schamaun

British comedian Abigoliah Schamaun has done 2000 comedy gigs, and filled lots of notebooks with her material. She talks about them below, accompanied by photographs by her boyfriend Tom Watts:

“…I’ve written jokes and setlists into vast numbers of notebooks. I have a notebook on me at all times. They are my security blanket. It doesn’t matter where I’m going or whether I plan on doing some writing once I get there, there is always a notebook in my bag. Gym, vacation, coffee shop; doesn’t matter. If there’s an afterlife I’ll carry one into that. I always have a notebook.

Abigoliah Schamaun's notebooks. Copyright: Tom Watts.

And I’ve always used a notebook, I’ve never switched to using some sort of spreadsheet or phone app. It’s just easier for me. Besides, if I drop my notebook in a puddle on the way to a gig it’ll be soggy but it still works. Notebooks are reliable, sturdy creatures. Writing a premise on a tangible object somehow makes the premise itself more tangible. It’s no longer just a thought in my head; I can now see it on white unlined paper and black ink. It’s real.

I LOVE new notebook day. It’s my favourite day. I usually buy moleskins, but sometimes I use notebooks that have been gifted to me. Every time I buy a notebook, there’s so much excitement and hope for that new notebook. I always think “This is the one! This is the one my first Live At The Apollo set will go into! This is the notebook my defining ‘bit’ will go into. Eddie Izzard has Cake vs Death, George Carlin has 7 Dirty Words, John Mulaney has The Salt and Pepper Diner. And I’m about to write mine.”

Abigoliah Schamaun's notebooks. Copyright: Tom Watts.

This level of glee and hope might be seen as childish and unrealistic. But no one goes into show-business because they have realistic expectations. Comics are dreamers who say funny things, it’s as simple as that.

When I’m done with them, they get tucked up on a shelf behind my whisky collection. I’ll be honest, I don’t look at them much once they’re put away.

To commemorate gig number 2,000 my boyfriend, Tom Watts, loaned me his photography skills and we did a photoshoot. And, for the first time in years, I pulled the notebooks down and looked through them…

My notebooks are multi-functional. I use them not just for sets but for everything. In there amongst the one-liners and story ideas are shopping lists, to-do lists, lists of lists. I taped my airline ticket into the beginning of one notebook from when I moved to London. In another is my father’s eulogy. Not a set, and not counted as one, but written out exactly how I write sets – because that’s how my brain works now.”

 

Read more at: Abigoliah Schamaun: 22 notebooks and 2,000 gigs – British Comedy Guide