Category Archives: Letts

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!

Notebook Addict of the Week: Joe

This week’s addict emailed me the photo below, and added these comments:

The attached photo is of my notebook collection.  Being in the military I take 2 or 3 pages of notes everyday.  I carry a large rite in the rain. They are very durable in both design and paper quality. I have a moleskine in my cargo pocket and a Letts daily planner as well. Daily use at home and as I travel about Europe I have a moleskine in my pocket or at least within reach always. My favorite are the pocket size squared. The moleskine got this addiction started.  I love your blog and check it daily.

addict joe

I love this collection– some of the notebooks look nicely overstuffed– gets me every time! And we share a preference for pocket sized squared notebooks. Given that Joe is in the military, I’m slightly surprised he doesn’t have more of the standard issue green Federal Supply Service notebooks, but any true notebook addict couldn’t limit himself to those, even if they’re super cheap! Thanks for sharing your addiction, Joe!

Noteletts Review

I picked up this Noteletts notebook last summer in the Art Brown pen shop. It was the first time I’d seen this brand, and I was excited to spot something new, despite being a little disappointed in the sizes available. My favorite notebooks are always a golden rectangle proportion, and usually about 9 x 14 cm. I’m obviously not alone in this preference, as it tends to be the size used by many manufacturers for their pocket notebooks: see Moleskine, Field Notes, Rhodia, Clairefontaine, Writersblock, Piccadilly, Paperblanks, HandBook Journals, Zequenz, and countless others.

But the folks at Letts decided to do something different with this new line– the pocket notebooks are 86 x 116 mm. I chose a red top-opening model, just for something different.

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The exterior is a lovely cloth binding, something I’ve grown to appreciate more and more while using the HandBook journals. Cloth just has a nice soft feel to it. And I love this dark shade of red– the red Moleskines are so bright and almost orangey in comparison. The Noteletts logo is subtly stamped on the back cover.

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There are the usual features: an elastic closure and a back pocket. You also get a ribbon marker, which Moleskine does not put in their reporter-style top-opening notebooks. It’s actually a little awkward to have a ribbon marker in a top-opening notebook– gravity will tend to make you lose your place. There’s also a lot of extra length to this ribbon, though I suppose you could just cut it off if you want.

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Inside the notebook, the end-papers are a reddish-pink shade. Kind of an odd choice, but not unpleasant. There’s a little title page that reminds you that Noteletts are “The Universal Notebook: a stylish and functional notebook with helpful pages of international information.” Then you get a page with various fields for your personal information, including an “in case of emergency” contact.

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The notebook pages themselves are blank, with a space for a date at the top and the Noteletts logo in the bottom corner. None are perforated.

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In the back, you get a “planner” page with a few lines for each month– not sure how useful that would really be in practice. Then 4 pages of international information: dialing codes, populations of countries, and metric/imperial weight, measures and temperature conversions. I think it’s cool to have info pages like this in notebooks– why should they only be in date books? But this is kind of a slim implementation of it. Why populations and not something else more practical? I think Arwey does a better job with the info pages, which include a world map.

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As for pen performance, the paper does feel nice and smooth to write on, but wetter pens may feather a wee bit, and the paper is thin enough that there’s a fair amount of show-through and some pens bled more than usual. The paper is acid-free.

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I paid $10.50 for this notebook at Art Brown. Compared to other brands out there, this seems a bit high given the smaller page size, but not totally outrageous– the cloth binding and other details make it feel like a good-quality product, even if the thin paper doesn’t stand up well to all pens. And for those who like to keep their notebooks in a pocket, the smaller size may be a big plus.

Other sizes and colors and paper styles are available. Unfortunately, only the large and medium sizes seem to have a choice of paper styles– blank, lined or squared. The small flip notebook is blank paper only, and the small side opening only offers ruled paper. Other colors are light blue, a lovely green, lavender and black.

If you can’t find these in your local stationery shop, you can order them at Amazon.