Category Archives: Filofax

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!

Notebook Addict of the Week: Queen Katz

This week’s addict is another YouTuber called Queen Katz, this time with an all-Filofax collection: 18 of them!

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Watch the full thing at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oi8ewIG8mWo

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Notebook Addict of the Week: Dan

This week’s addict has a You Tube Channel called A Sort of Interesting Life, where he posts a lot of videos about living on a narrowboat, for the most part, but he’s also quite interested in pens and notebooks. Take a look at his collection:

I think he also has the same ancient teddy bear as I have! Glad to see he has his priorities straight for what to keep with him in what must be tight living quarters on his narrowboat!

From the Mailbag: Questions and Tips from Readers

Time once again to try to help each other out by crowd-sourcing some notebook questions!

Toby writes:
The enclosed picture is of my favorite notebook, well the notebook is a few weeks old but the cover I have carried since I was fifteen, everyday it goes in my left pocket and more of my most cherished ideas are inscribed into it. I have taken it everywhere everyday, even overseas…but alas it is falling apart. Rather than carry it to complete ruin I am looking to replace it so that I may have what remains as a memento. Please tell me if you know where I may find a cover that is similar.

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I haven’t seen notebook covers for sale in this particular format, where a top-opening pad fits into a side-opening leather cover. But maybe Etsy would be a good place to search for someone who could make one? I did a quick search and spotted a seller called CLWorkshop who offers handmade leather journals and says “If you wanna special size journal cover, pls let us know your book’s size, length, width, thickness, we will give you the best price.” Anyone else have any ideas?

 

Armelle, who lives in the south of France, is looking for advice on a business idea:
I always loved note books, and recently I thought of making my own.. and even to make some for others. I would like to find out how to make spiral bound note books, with hard cover (so that one can easily write on it, even if on one’s knees when one doesn’t have a table). I’m ready to invest a bit in the business by buying some binding machine. But as my financial situation is pretty difficult these days, I can not take much risk. I would like to hear others experience.
It looks like you can buy such machines online for as little as a few hundred dollars but I’m not sure how sturdy they’d be for a business. Can these machines punch through thick covers as well as sheets of paper? Has anyone tried this and do you have any advice for Armelle?

 

TonyB is looking for a journal with tabs that stick out to divide it into different subjects:

I’m tired of juggling three or four journals all the time. It’s a pain to keep up with and the cat keeps knocking them off my desk. I’m looking for one journal that I can use for all subjects. Something with good-quality lined paper and tabs (the kind that stick out), under $15 hopefully. Ideally, something like this, but maybe with a better binding and not so expensive.
A good old-fashioned refillable binder like a Filofax or Franklin Planner is one idea to consider. The paper they come with might not be ideal, but they sell hole-punchers that match their rings so you could insert your own favorite paper. My other idea would be to find a notebook whose paper you like and then add your own removable tabs (such as these to divide it into sections. This would work best if the notebook has a wider cover overhang, so the tabs are somewhat protected. Otherwise, I can’t think of any good-quality notebooks that have divider tabs. Any reader suggestions for Tony?

 

Iñigo wrote to share a couple of notebook-related tips, including one about Jackie Collins, who has since died, sadly:

I’m writing from Spain. I live in the border with France, so I get to buy Spanish AND French notebook brands…
1. Apparently, author Jackie Collins writes EVERY book by hand and has a secretary that types it the next day. I couldn’t find the interview where she tells it but, I found a picture of her with her hand written books. Here: 
2. In the teenage tv series Gossip Girl, there is an episode where one characters diaries leak to the internet. 
The notebook apparently is from Tiffany’s, and in a scene you can see that she has used the exact same notebook (which is great for symmetry lovers like me) and how she stores them. I’m sure I would like to do it if I had space and money. 
The notebook/diary:
And the scene. You can see it from minute 1:53:

Stefán shares this notebook brand I’d not heard of:
La Papeterie d’Italie, which “designs handcrafted notebooks made by artisans in one of the oldest paper mills in Italy.”

As always, thanks to everyone who writes in with questions and tips, and for your patience with me getting a chance to post them!

BookExpo 2014

For my day job, I attend the Book Expo convention every year. A fringe benefit of the show is that I usually manage to spot some notebook vendors and get a look at their new products, but at this year’s show, which occurred last weekend, it was really sparse! Leuchtturm had a colorful corner booth, with their Whitelines collaboration prominently highlighted. Filofax/Letts/Lamy had a shared booth, and seemed to be pouncing on anyone who showed the least bit of interest, perhaps just to keep their samples from being stolen. Moleskine was totally absent, other than their name being permanently emblazoned on part of the Chronicle booth (their distributor). Exaclair wasn’t there, nor was Peter Pauper Press, Cavallini, or Piccadilly– all companies I’ve seen there in the past. Book Expo was where I first spotted Pocket Dept notebooks, but this year I didn’t spot a single new or interesting notebook. The only thing that attracted me was the booth of some Italian publisher where I saw that they had a pile of promotional notebooks that they seemed to be giving away. I couldn’t come up with any valid pretext for an actual business conversation with the guy, and was too embarrassed to just walk up and say “hey, can I have a free notebook?” I spotted one other promotional notebook giveaway, from Ingram, the largest book wholesaler. They were offering a notebook that looked like a composition book, but it was a different size, closer to 6×9″, and thinner, with a squared-off spine.

It’s a shame I didn’t manage to photograph these things, but sadly, you’re not missing much! I hope there will be better pickings next year… and in the meantime, maybe I’ll manage to attend the Stationery Show someday. I suppose most notebook companies feel like it’s not worth paying to hawk their wares to the thinning ranks of booksellers and prefer to attend a show with more potential buyers of non-book product. But at least Book Expo is still a fun place to talk about books! They are opening it up to more and more activities for the general public, now called “BookCon,” so if you’re a reader, and you will be in NYC at the end of May next year, you should check it out!

Filofancy’s Flex

The blogger at Filofancy notes that the Flex series by Filofax doesn’t get much blogging coverage. I can’t say I’ve found them inspiring at all when I see them in stores– wrong sizes, blah materials… it just makes me sad to see them in comparison to the wonderful things Filofax was making 15 or 20 years ago with gorgeous, luxurious leathers.

But this image did strike my fancy:

I love the look of that page of the nice, thick notebook she’s slipped into the Flex cover, and it’s great that she’s also able to stuff a Kindle in there too. Read more about how she uses the Flex as her “portable writing and reading desk” at Filofancy: How I use my Flex by Filofax.

Questions from Readers

Once again, I’m rounding up some questions from various readers who are in search of their perfect notebook. Help them if you can by leaving a comment!
From Landon: I really like the filofax pocket cover you showed a couple of years ago. I have been looking for something exactly like that for a long time. Do you know anyone who makes them similar to the one you have pictured?

I think he means this one below (details in this post), and I wish I did know where you could buy one like it today! I haven’t seen anything even close in years. Filofax made an extra-slim notebook a few years ago, but the leather wasn’t as nice, and they no longer seem to produce it.

From Diana: Looking for an old steno notebook with Gregg shorthand symbols on it

Not sure about this, eBay might be the best source. None of the current steno notebooks I’ve seen seem to include a reference chart of symbols.

From Jane: I was wondering if you happen to know of a cheaper alternative to an Xtra Small Moleskine.
Grandluxe and Leuchtturm both make extra small notebooks. Leuchtturm’s seem to have the same $9.95 suggested retail price as Moleskine. The Grandluxe Monologue notebook prices vary on Amazon– sometimes more, sometimes slightly less. They are harder to find in stores in the US. Coincidentally, a reader named Todd recently wrote to me with some tips on finding smaller notebooks, recommending this EDC Forum thread, which led him to the Scully Planner. It’s not cheap, but it’s refillable.
From Sarah: I’m looking for an A5 notebook with blank or dotted pages that are numbered. I know the Leuchtturm pages are numbered, but I’m wondering if they work with Micron Pigma pens (my preferred pen). I’ve seen various reviews. I want a notebook I can use with the Micron pen and not worry about drying times or using both sides of the paper. Any idea if Leuchtturm would work? Or an alternative?
I haven’t tested a Leuchtturm recently, and when I reviewed one a few years ago, I only tested a Pigma brush pen. The notebook I reviewed had a lot of show-through, but I’d heard they upgraded the paper since then. Maybe other Leuchtturm  users can chime in here?
From Edward: A few years ago I bought a simple black notebook. I am about to fill mine up, and can’t recall where I purchased it. I have been searching the internet, which is how I found your site, and was hoping you might have an idea of where it is from.
Description: Hard Smooth Cover
Color: Black
Paper: Unruled, Very White, and the paper is high quality & thick
Cover Size: 8 1/2″ x5 5/8″
Page size: Roughly, 8 1/4″ x5″
 I think the most unique thing about this notebook is that it came with a single page of glossy, lined paper, which can be inserted behind a page in the notebook, as a guide for writing clean, straight lines.
The only notebook I can think of that comes with an extra sheet of paper like that is the Emilio Braga notebook I bought in Portugal, reviewed here. I feel like I’ve seen others that had it, but I can’t remember where!
From Drew: I was looking to get a recommendation for a notebook. I’m hoping for something with a significant number of pages, rather large, ruled or gridded, with either a spiral spine or a spine that allows the book to stay open on a given page. I was thinking about getting an XL Rollbahn notebook (10.25 x 8; 180 pages). Do you have any ideas?
This is another tricky one, as most of the notebooks I can think of are smaller and thicker, or larger but with fewer pages, or they are sketchbooks with unlined pages. Maybe some of Miquelrius’s notebooks would fit the bill, though? They have an academic notebook with 250 sheets, among other MR Evolution notebooks that all seem to have over 200 sheets. The Doane Paper Large Idea Journal is also worth checking out– it’s only got 100 sheets, but it feels very substantial and has a nice wire-o binding. I use one at the office and love it!
From Alex: I have a question about a seemingly hard to find sketchbook. As an architect and furniture designer, I am looking for a dot grid sketchbook with heavy weight paper that will prevent showthrough. I use the Leuchtturm large size (5.75” x 8.25”; 80 gsm) but my ink drawings show through so I have to skip every other page for the drawings to be legible. It’s also too small for large drawings. I am considering the Leuchtturm master size which has a dot grid and 100 gsm paper. I am not sure if that is heavy enough. Do you know of a large format (bigger is better) sketchbook with dot grid paper in the 125-150 gsm range?
The only thing I can think of to recommend are Rhodia pads and webnotebooks, as they have dot grid options and the paper is usually good for showthrough. You can’t always judge by gsm alone, as other factors about the paper can affect showthrough and bleedthrough.
Thanks for all your emails and sorry I can’t always answer them. Let’s hope our readers can help!

Questions from Readers

These are some stumpers! Please chime in if you can help these readers!

From Jeffrey:

I’m looking for a specific kind of notebook that I can’t figure out if it exists or not… looking for a soft cover with elastic closure (like the soft moleskines).  Also want it to be perforated on every page (like the ecosystem architect).  Finally, hoping it had a dot grid (like the rhodia, leuchtturm, etc).  Does such a notebook exist?  It seems like I can have 2 of these things easy, but not all 3.  Am I missing something?  I can’t even seem to find a soft cover moleskine-style, all-perforated, lined book. Woe is me!

I think he’s right– 2 out of 3 isn’t that hard, but 3 out of 3???

From Stephanie:

I’d love a list of films that feature journals and diaries and blank books!  For example, in Finding Neverland, J.M. Barrie scribbles in his blank book to capture ideas and produce plays, and he gives one of his young friends a blank book of his own.  The blank books totally have a starring role in the film!

I know other readers will be better at this than I am, I am drawing a blank right now…

From Asstou:

I’d like to buy a notebook with a leather cover (but not a hard one, I want it supple), and with a binder inside (and not spirals), so that I can have loose leaves. Moreover, I don’t want a small notebook but a rather large.

Filofax makes a line of “A5″ size organizers, with paper measuring 5 3/4 x 8 1/4”. Some are available on Amazon.

 

From Jennifer:

I’ve been stuck in a Moleskine rut for awhile as I haven’t found anything better. Qualities I’m looking for:
-narrow line-spacing ( I have tiny handwriting and the Moleskine makes it look even smaller)
-lays flat and is sturdy enough to write with it on my knees
-a color other than black would be nice, but not necessary
-I don’t use a fountain pen so as long as the paper holds up to a Pentel Energel it’s fine with me
-not a fan of spiral binding

I’ve been looking at the lined Ecosystem but I have a blank one already and it feels too bulky next to the streamlined Moleskine, plus the cover extends beyond the paper which in my opinion looks silly. The lime green color shows every ink smudge (ink always manages to get on my fingers which in turn gets on everything else). I have also been considering a Picaddilly Primo (love red notebooks!) but it doesn’t look like it lays very flat and I’m not sure about the horizontal elastic band.

The narrow line spacing makes this challenging…

 

From Lucien:

Looking for a walletsize booklet with alphabetize pages to record addresses, location, tel #.
The one I did have once measured 3″ by 2″

Now these I have seen, often just in very basic office supply stores. Amazon has a really cheap version, $3.99 for a 2-pack!
2 Classic Black Mini Address Books Small Pocket Size

 

From Skippy:

Anyone ever find those hard, clothbound blank journals they used to sell at Borders for about $7?
No branding, no silly flowers or designs.  Just good, simple, durable lined notebook at a reasonable price.

I think he may mean the Piccadilly notebooks. I am not sure if the plain black “Essentials” notebooks have been picked up by other retailers, though their more colorful designs are for sale at Barnes & Noble and other shops. Piccadilly’s website does have a list of retailers.

 

From Sylvain:

I need some advice. I search a notebook which looks like a Moleskine (cover, pocket inside, something to close it) but with a better paper.
I have some Moleskine, Paperblanks and Legami, but using them with a foutain pen is impossible. The paper isn’t good enough. The ink is drooling and passing trough.

The Rhodia Webnotebook is probably the best thing to try.

 

Thank you to everyone who submits questions and answers– sorry I can’t answer them all personally!

Sloane Crosley’s Yearly Date With the Planner

A fun New York Times article by Sloane Crosley. She’s been using the same Louis Vuitton planner and inserts for 22 12 years and counting:

At the end of each year, I sit on the floor and go page by page through the old calendar, inking annual events into the new one, all the while watching my year in “dinner withs” skate by. When I’m done, I save the old calendar in the box of the new one and put it with the others on a shelf. It should be simple. But this way of life comes at a price.

As a genuinely absurd indulgence, I buy only the Louis Vuitton refills. The agenda itself is the one item I own from the brand, and my commitment to the gold-trimmed paper transcends reason. The price has increased to $50 from $20. To put it in perspective: In 2001, $20 seemed like an outrageous sum for a pile of hole-punched paper. I remember the first time I approached the stationery counter at the Louis Vuitton flagship on Fifth Avenue. I was awash in a kind of Swiss cheese outrage: There are holes in it! It’s not even all of the paper! Years later, in 2013? Filofax sells a refill with the same measurements … for $7.


Read more at A Yearly Date With the Planner – NYTimes.com.

Notebook Addict of the Week: LJ

This week’s addict is another Filofax fanatic. LJ recently moved and unpacked not only a TON of Filofax binders and inserts, but some official Filofax cabinetry that they’re stored in!

Wow. Just… wow.

See lots more at LJ’s Blog of Stuff: Move Complete.