Category Archives: Banditapple

Softcover and Single-Signature Notebooks from My Collection

On my “to-do” list for this blog has been a comparison of various notebooks in similar styles. I thought I’d do a post about softcover notebooks, and one about single-signature notebooks, similar to Field Notes and Moleskine Cahiers. So I went rooting around in my collection to find various examples of these styles, but the results were a bit daunting:

softcover and cahier1

Not only did I find a rather large number of notebooks, I discovered that there’s kind of grey area between these two styles, so I ended up arranging them in a sort of continuum of variations, from thicker softcover notebooks, through thinner squared-spine ones, to the thinnest single-signature ones with stitched or stapled bindings.

From left, we have the “The II” notebook bought at Kinokuniya, red Piccadilly notebook, softcover Piccadilly notebook, white Conceptum notebook from Germany, Zequenz notebook, Leonardo pocket journal from Papyrus, Fabio Ricci notebook bought in Turkey, Soundless Soliloquy notebook from Etsy, a notebook bought in a museum shop in Portugal, Book Factory pocket notebook, Rendr sketchbook, Canson XL sketchbook, Daler Rowney Ivory sketchbook, Pocket Dept notebook, Rhodia Unlimited notebook, yellow graph paper notebook with green cloth spine from Turkey, Federal Supply Memorandum book, Moleskine Volant, Rite in the Rain waterproof notebook, Clairefontaine notebook from the early 1990s, slipcased German notebook and pencil from Carmen, another old Clairefontaine notebook, a more recent Clairefontaine notebook, Moleskine Cahier, Banditapple Carnet, Miro journals, fluorescent Field Notes given to me by a reader, white notebook from Deyrolle in Paris, Kikkerland Writersblok notebook, Moleskine Cahier decorated by me with stamps, Noted graph paper notebook from Target, Filou notebook bought in Turkey, Northern Central Co. Memorandum book from the late ’70s/early ’80s, Ink Journal, polkadot notebook from Portugal, black school quaderno from Vickerey, white promotional notebook from, (at this point the order gets scrambled in some of the later photos) black Doane Paper Utility Notebook, pale green Bound Custom Journal Memo, HitList notebook, OrangeArt Tattersall notebook, Artescrita 4-pack from Portugal, boxed Calepino notebooks, Word. notebook, Halaby Aero Flightbook, and Hahnemuhle Travel Booklets. Whew! I thought I had also included one other little graph paper stapled notebook that I bought in Portugal, but I can’t spot it in the photos– maybe it’s buried under there somewhere!

softcover and cahier2softcover and cahier3softcover and cahier4softcover and cahier5softcover and cahier6softcover and cahier7softcover and cahier8softcover and cahier9


And of course this isn’t even all the softcover notebooks in my collection. It’s also worth noting that of all these notebooks, the only ones that have actually been used even partially (other than pen tests for reviews) are the two old black/grey Clairefontaine notebooks and the Northern Central Memorandum book. I have other Moleskine Volant and Kikkerland Writersblok notebooks that I have used, but they weren’t the ones in these photos. I will probably use some of the graph paper and plain paper notebooks in the future. I ended up feeling like it was impossible to compare and contrast the features of so many different notebooks, but almost all of them have been photographed and described in more detail in other posts on this site already.

What’s your favorite softcover notebook?

My Inventory of Spare Notebooks

As you might imagine, I have a lot of notebooks stashed in various places. I have boxes of them under beds and in cabinets and in drawers. They are at home and at the office. They are pretty much everywhere! Lots of them are old ones that I have used. Lots of them are new ones that I have not used. Because of this blog, I have a number of notebooks that I never intend to use, though I do try to give a lot of those away. But what about the ones that I do intend to use? I had kind of lost track of how many I had squirreled away, so I decided to get a handle on it. Hint: there are a lot!

I am rather anxious about running out of notebooks that meet my criteria for regular daily use. What if they just stop making ones I like? It could happen. And what about Moleskine’s decline in quality? I’ve been so dismayed at the way they make their notebooks now that I’ve been buying up older ones whenever I spot good ones. For a notebook to make the cut as a daily companion, it has to be approximately 3.5 x 5.5″ or smaller, with plain, dot grid or squared paper. It has to feel good to write in, and feel good to hold. I prefer that the cover be plain, but I’m open to variations as long as the overall aesthetics are pleasing. In addition to the “daily use” notebooks, I am also including the kinds of sketchbooks that I tend to use regularly for assorted drawing and painting, which have to be the same size, with sturdy plain paper. (I am not counting larger sketchbooks, which I do sometimes use, but much more rarely, so I don’t stock up on them much.) After going through my various piles, here’s my current inventory of notebooks with potential for daily use and regular sketching:

  • 20 squared hardcover Moleskines
  • 2 plain hardcover Moleskines
  • 15 Moleskine sketchbooks
  • 2 HandBook Artist Journals
  • 36 assorted other hardcover or softcover notebooks from other brands, including Piccadilly, Pen & Ink and others
  • 37 assorted staple-bound or stitched-spine cahier-style notebooks, from brands such as Moleskine, Field Notes, Doane Paper, Calepino, etc.

I was surprised that I only had 2 unused HandBooks left, as I had quite a few of those at one point. But the main thing that struck me after compiling this list is that I need to start using those cahiers more! I tried to use one for household notes like room measurements and furniture measurements at one point, thinking it would be helpful when shopping for some new furniture, but that project sort of fizzled out. I toy with the idea of using these small notebooks for single subjects or projects, or for drawing and doodling. They are lightweight and easy to carry, so I keep thinking I should be using them for listmaking, or for sketching when I don’t want to carry a daily notes notebook plus another hardcover sketchbook. I could even try carrying a few at a time bundled into a Traveler’s Notebook-style cover. I could be stretching out the lifespan of my nice old Moleskines if I used more of these cahiers.

Since I tend to use about 4-6 notebooks a year on average, including sketchbooks, the 75 non-cahier spares I currently have may only last about 12 years, or until I am about 57 years old. God forbid that I run out of good notebooks just a few years before I’m ready to retire!!! And I am very healthy (knock on wood) and have a family history of longevity, so I may need notebooks until I’m in my early to mid 90s. I can’t just say “oh, I’m sure I’ll have enough.” Proper planning is key. If my usage shifted to 2-3 full-size notebooks and 1 cahier a year, I’d be all set for about 30 years, til I’ll be 75. Assuming I keep blogging and paying attention to new notebooks that hit the market, I am likely to add some other acceptable notebooks to my collection during that time, so I may not have a shortfall until I’m even older. It still makes me a little nervous to imagine living out the final years of my life with only inferior notebooks to scribble in… and you always hear horror stories about people’s stuff being stolen when they’re in nursing homes… so I guess I will just have to keep collecting more spare notebooks to get me through!


Notebook Addict of the Week: A Penchant for Paper

This week’s addict is Heather at A Penchant for Paper. I really enjoyed her post about her system of using multiple notebooks, including the ones below:

“I have multiple notebooks, multiple pens and pencils, and multiple pen cases, all of them equally stuffed full, and I still find myself acquiring more, although not quite as much these days as I once did. However, I have gradually developed something of a notebook system: a series of notebooks, each with a distinct use.”

An interesting variety of sizes and shapes and colors and brands, each used for different purposes in ways that have changed over time. I love all the details she shared about the evolution of her notebook system!

Read more at A Penchant for Paper: My Notebook System.

Review & Giveaway: Banditapple Carnets

Banditapple was launched a couple of years ago as a new notebook manufacturer focused on providing a quality handmade notebook at very affordable prices. I’d read reviews of them on other blogs and was thrilled when they contacted me to offer some samples for review.


The notebooks are similar to the Moleskine Cahiers or Field Notes– simple stitch-bound notebooks with plain covers, with 64 pages. The colors are “Hanoi Red” or “Saigon Black,” reflecting their manufacturing origins in Vietnam. (The ownership of the company is in Korea.) They come in a clear plastic envelope with a sticker that tells you the style of the notebook (ruled or plain), but beyond that, there is no branding on the notebooks, except for one “special edition” that has an embossed logo. There is no pocket in the back.


The corners are precisely cut and lines are precisely aligned. There’s a bit of extra space at the top and bottom of the page, and in between the sharp, dark grey lines are spaced at 1/4″.


The  9 x 14cm “Peewee” size notebook is shown here with a pocket size Moleskine for comparison. I like it that they have a size called Peewee! Other sizes are called “Handy” and “Tablet,” which may not be totally informative, but are much more interesting than just saying “Medium” and “Large.”


The stitching on the spine is also nice and straight– with Moleskine Cahiers and the Kikkerland Writersblok notebooks, I’d noticed that it was sometimes at a bit of a slant.


All my usual pens performed well on the acid-free paper, though I found it a bit less smooth than some of the other notebooks I’ve tested. The slight toothiness of the paper can make very fine pen tips seem to drag a little, but it works nicely with pencils and thicker pens. The Pilot Precise V5 and Uniball Micro feathered a bit. I found that the pens that tend to bleed through the most on most paper might bleed slightly more than average on this paper. But show-through was minimal, a little better than average.




The company’s website is not in English, so most people won’t find that an easy way of finding out more about these notebooks. But you can click on this link to download a brochure with full details: Banditapple Carnet_ENG. The brochure covers the notebooks I have, which are the first generation made by Banditapple:

Banditapple Carnet 1G.
Peewee (9×14 cm) 1,800 krw / 1.61 USD
Handy (11×21 cm) 2,800 krw / 2.51 USD
Tablet (13×21 cm) 3,300 krw / 2.96 USD
*Color: Saigon Black/ Hanoi Red
**Format: Blank/Lined

They’ve since launched a second generation:

Banditapple 2G
Peewee (9×14 cm) 2,500 krw / 2.24 USD
Tablet (13×21 cm) 4,000 krw / 3.58 USD
*Color: Finland Pine(Green), Manuka Honey(light brown), Ginger bread (Dark brown)
*Format: Blank/Lined/Grid

More details from the owner of the company:

All handmade with ecological Heritage paper.
Printed with Soy Type Ink
Practice with fair business.
We are working with minority women & handicapped in Vietnam.
So they can get a job, and support family.
Price has increased due to Economic crisis in Europe (Exchange rates went up), Price went up include paper,
and labor costs went up in Vietnam (about 30-40%)
We practice Fair business so sadly we couldn’t control the price.

But that is the great thing about these notebooks– the price! Even at the higher 2G prices, I think these are a really good value for the quality of the product. Unfortunately, the don’t have a US distributor yet, but you can order them directly by emailing They accept Paypal and ship via airmail.  UPDATE: Goulet Pens now sells Banditapple 1G!

And of course you can also take a shot at winning one of these samples:

I’ll select three random winners from entries submitted as follows:

On Twitter, tweet something containing “@Banditapple” and “@NotebookStories, and follow “@banditapple” and “@NotebookStories.

On Facebook, “like” the  Notebook Stories page  and post something containing the words “Banditapple” on my wall.

On your blog, post something containing the words “Banditapple” and “NotebookStories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday March 16 at 11:59PM, EST. Good luck everyone!