Category Archives: Calepino

Notebook Addict of the Week: Jenny

This week’s addict blogs about pens, paper and more at The Finer Point. Jenny has accumulated a prodigious collection of Field Notes and other brands of small staple-bound notebooks, both used and unused. I love the way all the used ones look in the first photo– so much color variation but such nice, neat bundles of all the same sized notebooks!

These ones are unused:

“My issue seems to be really prevalent with pocket notebooks. Initially this was in part fuelled by the crazy collectable, and in part, competitive nature that exists around Field Notes. You don’t really have to search very far to see people desperate to have all the new releases and buying up large quantities of limited editions. Many people will have a problem of hoarding notebooks so I am not alone, and my stack is probably much much smaller than most, but to get a real idea on how bad it was I decided to write a post on the number of used and un-used notebooks I own.”

Read more at The Finer Point
Found via The Cramped

Eco-friendly notebooks at TreeHugger

TreeHugger features some eco-friendly notebook brands.

“Made entirely from recycled, sustainable, or tree-free fibers, these companies care as much for the environment as they do for aesthetics.”

I was most excited about the ones below–gorgeous stitched-spine pocket notebooks from Ciak that I’d never seen before, as well as some colorful versions of Calepino’s notebooks.


Source: Looking for a gorgeous eco-friendly notebook? Check out these 6 companies : Page 4 : TreeHugger

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: Ian

This week’s addict has a lovely and emphatically titled website: Pens! Paper! Pencils! All 3 are suitably celebrated there, including these notebooks:

This beautiful collection includes Moleskine, Rhodia, Muji, Calepino, Field Notes, and Monsieur Notebook. I really love those nicely worn-in leather covers, from Davis Leatherworks. (where they are only $17!)
Read more at Notebooks.

Moleskine Monday: Analyzing Paper Weight

A reader named Steve commented on my “Dissecting a Moleskine” post with a link to a fascinating inquiry of his own: what is the actual weight of Moleskine paper? Steve points out that many notebook brands make a selling point of their paper weight, expressed in grams per square meter (GSM):

• Calepino, 90
• Clairefontaine, 90
• Fabriano, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100
• Mossery, 120
• Rhodia (Clairefontaine paper), 80, 90

But Moleskine never specifies paper weight. So Steve did some measuring and calculation– seriously in-depth measuring and calculation! You can read all about his methods and results, including nifty graphs like this:

You may not understand it all. I sure didn’t! But it’s pretty cool nonetheless. The bottom line is that he accounts for a lot of variables that could throw things off and still concludes the paper in a regular Moleskine (not the heavier sketchbooks, storyboard notebooks or Japanese albums) is 71 GSM. No wonder they don’t brag about it!

Read more at Weighing in on Moleskine Paper.

Review: Calepino Notebook

It’s taken me forever to get around to reviewing these notebooks, despite having basically had someone else write it for me! Below are some comments and photos from Ted, a former addict of the week:

Got my order of Calepino today. Basically the french Field Notes. Right down to some of the wording on the website. You even get the extra goodies. Ruler, Bic 50’s reissue and a pencil. This is a great notebook. Heavy duty all around. Chipboard cover in the 100-120# range. Approx 60# interior pages. A little coarse. Green grid. No bleed and only slight show through except for the obvious sharpie. 2 staple saddle stitch. We’ll see how that plays out over time abuse wise. This is thicker and heavier than a doane. The stack is FN, Moleskine, doane, Calepino. I think this book is great and easily as good as a FN only sturdier. The only negative is price. All told 20.00 & change after discounts and shipping. Auto 19% discount outside eu plus 5% email sign up. For my daily pocket book a 3 pack takes me over a year to use so for me this is totally worth it to have a great notebook like this.

Ted’s photos:


I basically agree. I didn’t order mine from France– I was lucky enough to find them stocked at McNally Jackson bookstore in SoHo (a GREAT bookstore with an excellent selection of stationery products). My 3-pack of squared notebooks was $12.95. I like the packaging a lot– the sturdy cardboard case could be used to store used notebooks later, or to stash index cards (if anyone still uses them!).

The notebooks themselves feel substantial, with a nice heavy cover and cleanly cut corners. I like the design– it may seem like overly loud branding to some, but I find the stripes attractive, and the exterior just says what it is in a fairly straightforward way, without any smirking. Inside, the usual space for your info on the inside front cover, and a story about the company in the back, which I translate roughly as follows:

The hardcover notebook was covered with sawdust, often set down between the plane and its shavings. Or on the machine tool or the workbench in my father’s woodworking shop in the basement. With his big red wooden pencil, he made notes in it, drew his plans and sketches, then slid it into the rear pocket of his overalls.  Calepino was born with the desire to offer these notebooks again. Simple, practical and durable… to fill with your notes, creations, or memories, now on 100% recycled paper, made in France.

[As an aside, I think it is really interesting to note the different kinds of memories, nostalgia and aspirations that are encoded in the marketing schemes of various notebook brands. Moleskine wants to be all about creativity and travel, trying to associate themselves with globe-trotting writers and artists of the early 20th century. Field Notes romanticizes American agriculture in a simpler time when small-scale farmers used notebooks given to them as promotional items by companies that took the time to sell them seeds or machinery. Calepino similarly looks back at a warm memory of craftsmanship, and associates notebooks with the hand tools used by a worker in blue overalls. When is someone going to present a notebook that will explicitly appeal to our deep-seated inner desires to look like a black-clad, espresso-sipping avant-garde architect in fancy eyeglasses? Or our longing to replicate the notebooks used by a harried suburban soccer mom with long lists of groceries to buy and children’s activities to plan? Or our desire to associate ourselves with the eternal cool of the pimply teenaged Dungeons and Dragons player, scribbling spells and maps on crumpled pages stained with Mountain Dew? Surely these marketing schemes will come along when enough time has passed for them to have that retro appeal?]

Here’s my own photos:


The Calepino paper feels less smooth to the touch than many others I’ve tried, but fine point pens still somehow glide over it quite comfortably. Fountain pens worked well. The grid lines slightly resist certain inks. I also found the bleedthrough and showthrough to be better than average.

Ted also sent me a followup email after he ordered several packs of Calepino’s first limited edition:

Got my Calepino Alteration Limited Edition. #’s 37-41/500 copies. Pretty swell. Thought you might like to see them. Cover appears to be sections of a painting/paintings? Doesn’t look familiar and doesn’t look like it fits together in any way. Dark Gray ruled pages which kind of sucks with such a colorful cover. Rulings occasionally off left to right on the pages if one writes across the crease. And I’ve noticed an ever so slight amount of smearing when using my regular graph so a couple seconds drying time. I got approx. 18 euro discount for ordering so much but can’t say at what point that kicked in. It was better than free shipping anyway which I was suppose to get. Fabrice apologized for that and sent a free pack of graph so I made out pretty well considering the exchange. I can say nothing bad about this company. Great product and service on the two purchases I’ve made. Even sent a quality heavy stock card thanking me and apologizing for the mix up and free pack. Hope the pics turned out. As I’ve said before, Field Notes, but their somewhat rougher around the edges French cousin. Or something.


If there’s anything negative to be said about Calepino, it’s only that they really do seem to be copying what Field Notes has done– packing the notebooks with pencils and pens, offering subscriptions, creating limited editions to encourage collectors, etc. But at the end of the day, these are notebooks, after all, and there’s not all that much you can do to reinvent the wheel! But they are making a very nice product and I’m looking forward to using mine.

Ruled, plain, and squared pages are available, one size only. See here for a list of retailers around the world, or you can order directly from the website.

Thanks again to Ted for sharing his photos and comments!


Things to Come

I have a big to-do list for this blog. Here’s some of the notebooks and things I’ve got waiting in the wings for future coverage, some of which I’ve been meaning to get to for ages:

Miquelrius Boarding notebook

0.00 Night and Young Guns Moleskine books

Piccadilly Softcover Notebook

Assorted Japanese notebooks from Kinokuniya Bookstore

Elan Pocket-Size Field Book

Canson XL Mix Media Journal from Blick Art Materials

Calepino notebooks

Design-Y notebooks

Assorted goodies from Jet Pens: pens, notebooks and backpacks

Clairefontaine 1951 notebook

Field Notes Traveling Salesman Edition

Word notebooks

Palomino Luxury Hardcover Notebook

Several books about/featuring notebooks and sketchbooks


Whew, I’ve got my work cut out for me!

Calepino Notebooks

Here’s a new brand of notebooks that look fantastic!
Notebooks : Calepino.

Designed and manufactured in France, available in lined, squared and plain. 48 pages, 90g paper, 9 x 14cm. Sold in 3-packs that come in nice little case. Each 3-pack is 9 Euros, but outside the EU you can take 19.6% off since you don’t have to pay VAT. And if your total order is more than 27-40 Euros, depending on location, they will ship for free. (Not sure if that free shipping minimum is before or after you deduct the VAT.)

I’m dying to try these!