Category Archives: Leonardo

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?

Notebooks All Around: A Look at (Some of) My Collection

Today I thought I’d just share some photos of various parts of my notebook collection and where they are scattered around my apartment:

Below is a corner of my office where I was going through boxes of notebooks and had stashed some used ones that needed to be put away. There are a few months of daily notebooks, notebooks already reviewed, notebooks to be reviewed, and some childhood notebooks. (All of these have now been put back in a closet– I try to keep the notebook clutter under control!)


A close-up of some of the daily notebooks. I write the dates they cover on the bottom.


On top of my file cabinet: some stray samples to be given away someday, and some stuff already reviewed, and a small looseleaf binder I used many years ago that I’ll do a post on at some point.


Here’s the shelves in one of my closets: shoeboxes full of small notebooks, and stacks of larger journals and sketchbooks.



Here on a bookshelf are my Moleskine City Notebooks (though I’ve since bought more). Amsterdam is the only one in this stack that I haven’t used yet. The others are New York, London, Paris, Istanbul and Lisbon.


And finally, this is the stack of notebooks-in-waiting I keep in my desk. These are all notebooks that have made the cut as ones I like enough to use as daily notebooks or sketchbooks at some point (mostly Moleskines, HandBook Journals, Piccadillies, and a couple of others). I’m not worried about running out at the moment… but only because I have an additional stack of spares elsewhere!


There are close to 100 notebooks visible in these photos, not counting the ones in the unopened shoeboxes and additional notebooks I have stored elsewhere. Welcome to my world!

Review: Leonardo Pocket Journal

I usually find the stationery chain Papyrus to be pretty slim pickings as far as notebooks are concerned, but one day I happened to spot this little gem sitting all alone on a bottom shelf: the Leonardo Pocket Journal.
It’s kind of funny that it has a musical theme– I mean, why didn’t they call it the Wolfgang Journal, or the Ludwig Journal?¬† Actually, there is a pretty good reason: the Italian company that makes it is called Leonardo Communication. But you’d think they might just put a DaVinci drawing on the cover instead of musical notes…

The packaging is more or less what we’ve come to expect: a paper band with the branding wraps around the notebook. Below is what it looks like without the band– I think they could have laid out the cover slightly better, perhaps– that white space running down the left side almost makes it look like it was misaligned and should have been on the spine.


The notebook is most comparable to a softcover Moleskine in size and general characteristics, as the cover is just stiff cardboard  rather than boards wrapped in paper or oilcloth. The outside has a slightly ridgy texture, like some fine writing papers. The inside covers are totally blank, and I was surprised to discover there was no inside pocket, which seems like such a standard feature these days.


The coloring is fun: the elastic band is a sort of speckled blue, and the ribbon marker is bright red. And the inside pages are a recycled paper with a greyish color. The elastic is very tight– any tighter and it might warp the notebook.


My notebook was a bit stiff in how it opened, partly because of an extra blob of glue that held the spine together a bit more at one end. But even without that, this wouldn’t be the most flat-lying or flexible notebook, as you can see below. If you want a notebook you can keep in your back pocket, you’ll prefer the Book Factory notebook or a Moleskine. The Leonardo is much more stiff.


I didn’t have high hopes for the paper in this notebook– when I see that greyish or brownish tone and the word “eco-friendly” I assume the paper will be sort of rough and with the kind of soft surface that makes pens feather and bleed through easily. But although it’s not as smooth to write on as the Moleskine, Markings, Piccadilly, Rhodia and Clairefontaine notebooks I’ve been writing in recently, it’s not as rough and draggy as I feared it would be. More importantly, this paper is actually one of the better performers I’ve tried in terms of bleed-through.

leonardo pen1leonardo pen2

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by this notebook. The look of it is a nice change from basic black, but it’s still understated and not too brightly colored, though of course this is a matter of personal preference. Not having a pocket is a drawback, though.

I’m not sure where these might be sold other than Papyrus– the manufacturer’s website was pretty uninformative. Let me know in the comments if you know of other retailers who sell these.

Price: $8.95 plus tax

Made in Italy by Leonardo Communication