Category Archives: MIchael Roger

Shopping for Notebooks at Book People

I recently went to Book People, a great independent bookstore in Austin, Texas. They have a huge selection of gift items and stationery, including lots of notebooks from Moleskine, Leuchtturm, Miquelrius, Michael Roger, HandBook, Paperblanks, Rhodia, Field Notes and many more.

Here’s what I had to snag for myself, as I’d never seen these in a store before:

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It’s not the most practical notebook, but I loved the design! A variety of map designs were available. Some were only on the front cover, but others had maps both front and back. The edges of the paper are rough-torn and seem like they’ve been dipped in something to artificially age them. The overall effect is quite attractive, though I’m a little worried that the binding won’t be very durable. There is no branding anywhere on the notebook, so I have no idea who makes them. BookPeople’s price label says “Worldbuyers Blank Books” but a Google search hasn’t turned anything up.

The other new discovery for me was some Field Notes-like 3-packs of notebooks in themes for Grumps and Introverts. A fun gift item for sure! They’re made by Archie McPhee.

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NY Now Gift Show

Last week, I was able to visit the NY Now Gift Show for the first time. It’s quite an extravaganza– the whole Javits Center filled with vendors showing off housewares, crafts, and all manner of gifty items. If you’ve ever bought a stationery item or a candle or a pillow, or any of a million other things, the store you bought it at might have decided to stock that item because they saw it at this gift show or one of the other regional versions of it.

I work in publishing, so I was theoretically there to help at my own company’s booth and check out the books, but luckily, most of the book publishers were in an area of the show floor that also featured quite a few stationery products. I snapped a few photos before someone told me it was frowned upon for people with exhibitor badges to do so. This seemed very odd to me, as you’d think even other exhibitors would be seen as potential customers– that is certainly how the book publishing industry looks at it. But I guess with gift items, people are more afraid that you’ll steal their idea and sell it more cheaply than they do! Anyway, here’s a few things that caught my eye.

First, some of the lovely Ogami notebooks, with paper made out of stone. I don’t think I’ve seen the larger spiral ones in stores yet.

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I just loved these mushroom notebooks, from Gift Republic. They had some other really nice designs too– these were my favorite thing at the show that I’d never seen before. I hope we’ll see them on lots of store shelves soon!

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Colorful designs by Calypso:

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Some fun-looking journals:

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Great to see Michael Roger’s Decomposition Book line continuing to expand with fun new designs and sizes.

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Cute little spiral-bound notebooks from Knock-Knock:

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Rifle Paper Co.‘s line of Garance Doré stationery:

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More from Rifle Paper Co.:

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I enjoyed getting to see all these beautiful products on display– there was so much to see even though notebooks and stationery were only a small part of what the Gift Show had to offer. I’m not sure I could even handle going to Paper World or the Stationery Show— it would be total overload!

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!)

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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!

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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!

Michael Roger Decomposition Books: New Design! (and Giveaway!)

The folks at Michael Roger just sent me a sample of their newest Decomposition Book: a snazzy honeycomb design! (See my previous review of Michael Roger notebooks.)

And I’m going to pass it on to a lucky winner! Enter as usual:

On Twitter, follow Notebook Stories and tweet something containing the words “Decomposition Book” and “@NotebookStories.

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

On your blog, post something containing the word “Decomposition Book” and “NotebookStories” and link back to this post.

The deadline for entry is Friday May 20 at 11:59PM, EST.

Winners will be posted on Facebook and Twitter. Good luck everyone!

Questions from Readers

Here’s some more notebook fans in search of their own personal holy grail… can you help?

From Paul:

Has anyone ever seen an “Adult Perpetual Diary” like the one shown here:

I had one when I was about 13, which I used to write down school assignments–I bought it at Woolworth’s, and was thrilled by seeing “adult” on the cover.

However, I haven’t seen one in over 30 years, and when I Googled the phrase, this was the only hit it received.

Have you ever seen this?

From Dave:

I am going NUTS trying to find a journal/sketchbook combo that has lines on one side and is blank on the other side of the page. I’ve found a few, but none that can be bought online or in the US. Any suggestions?

Actually, I think the Dialogue notebooks I reviewed might be available in some US retailers now.

From Jack:

What I am after is an A5 or A4 sized, hardcover, spiral bound notebook with alternating lined/plain pages (either whole pages or lined one side, blank the other). Seems like no-one makes such a thing, or do they?

The Dialogue notebooks I mention above aren’t spiral-bound, unfortunately…

From another reader:

In elementary school we used to always use the same style of journal. They had manila covers with a red spine (tape spine) with “JOURNAL” in big red letters vertically next to the spine. Any chance you know where to get these? I am 21 so it’s been a while since I’ve been in elementary school and I don’t even know if they exist anymore. I’ve tried looking but the internet has been no help and the stores i go to don’t have them.

From Zac:

Hi, I am a daily writer, I write at least 3 pages a day, sometimes more obviously, but with that kind of prolific nature, in many ways a small notebook isnt practical for me, as I would have to keep buying and buying them. i recently bought those massive 500 page Michael Roger blank notebooks [perhaps this?], which worked well, but ive been using Roger for years now and Im tired of it.

Do you know of any notebooks that like Roger have options where you can really go wild with the page count and have hundreds and hundreds of pages in one notebook?

Many of the notebooks like rhodia and moleskine, while obviously great, are too small for these things. I’d use of 90 pages in about a month or so.

There’s the huge sketchbook I mentioned in this post, but that’s only 348 pages. There are also the StartHere notebooks that link their covers together and theoretically become an infinite notebook, but I’m not sure that would solve your problem!

Thanks for the questions, everyone, and sorry I don’t have answers off the top of my head! But maybe the hive mind of this site’s readership can help!

Notebook Addict of the Week: Tracy

This week’s addict has provided lots of info about her collection:
The Stack:

I took a picture of each of the journals, included purchasing information (if any), and a little about each. Starting from the bottom:

Sheet Music Journal

Duchessa Music Notes
I bought this journal from Barnes and Noble. It’s my my current journal and I love that it has a lot of lines (that are college ruled).

Cork Journal

Cork Journal
The one on the right is a real gem. Its cover is made of cork – a real unique material! I have yet to write in it, but I am so excited to. The paper quality is akin to moleskine paper, and the lining of the pages are college ruled – a real rarity. It’s size is 5 x 7, and has about 70 leaves, or 140 pages.

The one on the left (sits at the top) I use as a memo notebook: Dispatches Journal

[Note: These are the Michael Roger journals I just reviewed!]

Green and Turquoise Journals

I bought these two from Barnes & Noble a couple years ago. They’re made out of bamboo paper and were pretty cheap – I bought one on clearance.

Newspaper journal

I can’t find a brand, but I found it at a unique gift shop. I believe it was made in India, as the cover is an Indian newspaper.

Recycled paper Journal

Recycled Paper Journal
I can’t wait to get to this journal next! It’s a journal full of mismatching and recycled paper. Even though I bought the one in the link, if you browse her shop, I believe you can find another one that is very similar.

Paperblanks Stained Glass Window

Paperblanks Journals
I love the coptic binding, and the stained glass window design is gorgeous. My only complaint – lines are wide rule.

Blue Swirls Journal

I bought this journal about ten years ago at Borders, so I doubt they carry it any longer. I love the blue foil edges and the antique-looking spine.

Moleskines
Cahiers and Volants – pretty standard issue.

Paisley Print

This paisley print journal I bought at Barnes & Noble about three years ago, and haven’t seen any since. I

Flower Stitch


This one I also purchaed at Barnes & Noble, about two years ago. This was my first unlined journal – took some getting used to.


Wow, that is quite a collection! Lots of colors and textures and patterns. Thank you for sharing, Tracy!

Review & Giveaway: Michael Roger Notebooks

I’d noticed Michael Roger’s Decomposition books in several stationery stores– they’re a clever twist on the traditional composition book, but made with recycled paper. I hadn’t realized at first that the company also makes some other very cute notebooks in the 3.5 x 5.5″ size that always sets my heart a-flutter. When I spotted their small cork-covered journals and Dispatches journals, I had to contact the company and beg for a sample. And look at all the goodies they sent!

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The decomposition books have such fun covers– I’d noticed that composition books in general seem to be breaking away from the traditional mottled black and white design into other crazy colors and patterns, not all of which I find appealing. But I like these– a sort of faux wood grain, a topographical map design, a leafy green pattern… even the black and white looks more like leaves & flowers. Most of the samples I got are college-ruled, but one has lovely squared paper. It’s not that easy to find composition books with blank or squared paper instead of lined. The inside covers of these books give you all kinds of fun facts about their eco-friendliness, as well as some cool illustrations and phrases in foreign languages. I noticed that the 4 samples I was sent weren’t all the exact same size– not a big deal but the inconsistency might bother me if I was a big composition book user and wanted to have a whole shelf of these. I didn’t do full pen tests on these but the paper seemed okay– it has a bit of what I think of as “that recycled paper look,” where you see some little threads throughout the paper, and the feel of it isn’t super smooth, but it’s not unpleasant to write on and I didn’t have any major bleeding or feathering with the pens I tried.

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Then there’s the Landmade cork notebook– this is such a cool, unique material for a notebook cover. I was surprised to see that this is considered an eco-friendly, sustainable material– I’d heard there was a cork shortage and that’s why you see more and more wine bottles with artificial corks or screw tops. But in this case, the cork is a layer of bark that can be harvested repeatedly without killing the tree. It’s a very thin slice of cork that is glued to the boards of the notebook, which are a subtle metallic gold underneath. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, and it really is beautiful. The texture is soft and a little uneven due to the holes in the cork. I worried that this might create edges that could easily catch on something and tear off the cork– it seems pretty sturdily glued, but I don’t know how it would hold up after extensive use.

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Finally, we have the Dispatches notebooks. I love the postal motif on the wrapper, and I love the classic, plain look of the notebook underneath. I’m surprised more notebook makers don’t use this combination of paper wrapped boards and a cloth-covered spine– Cavallini used to make some like this in the early 1990s but I haven’t seen too many others recently.

The small size really is lovely– they’re just a hair smaller than a pocket Moleskine so they feel very pocketable, though the covers are not flexible at all.

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The notebooks are very simple– plain inside the front and back covers, no expanding pocket. There is a ribbon marker. The company name is printed on the back rather than stamped. They open nice and flat. The elastic closure is not very long, so it’s quite tight. I love the texture of the brown paper cover– it looks great plain, and would also be fun to doodle all over with a Sharpie.

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My only disappointment with these is the very deep cover overhang, which is just my personal issue that doesn’t bother everyone. It does mean, however, that the interior page size is a lot smaller than in other notebooks that are the same size on the exterior. I found it very noticeable here, as it was with the Tops notebook I reviewed a while back.

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The notebooks come in plain and lined versions, which are narrow-ruled with fairly dark lines. The paper is a creamy color, very similar to the Moleskine shown here (in the middle below) for comparison.

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I did my full battery of pen tests on the small Dispatches notebook with unlined paper. Results were similar to a lot of notebooks I’ve tried– the paper feels nice and smooth and most of my pens performed very nicely without bleeding or feathering. The paper isn’t super heavy, though, so there is some show-through, comparable to a Moleskine.

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This would be all I’d have to say about it except that while flipping through the notebook, I noticed that some of the pages in the front had a noticeably less smooth texture. I tested one of these pages too and my pens didn’t feel quite as nice. In a few cases you can see the difference– just a slightly less sharp line. (Both pages tested showed the paper to be acid-free.) This kind of paper variation isn’t totally unheard of– I’ve had Piccadillies that also had some inconsistency. It probably wouldn’t be a big deal to most people… but it’s a bit disappointing for those of us who are obsessive notebook freaks, of course!

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If your local stationery shop doesn’t carry Michael Roger products, a few styles are listed in my Amazon store, or you can order them from the Michael Roger online store… or you can try to win one of the 3 prize packages I’ll be giving away. Each winner will get one composition book and one Dispatches or Landmade notebook.

You know the drill! Enter in one of these ways:

On Twitter, tweet something containing the words “@Michael_Roger” and “@NotebookStories.

On Facebook, “like” the  Notebook Stories page and post something containing the word “Michael Roger” on my wall.

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

The deadline for entry is Friday February 18 at 11:59PM, EST.

Winners will be posted on Facebook and Twitter. Good luck everyone!

And thanks again to the folks at Michael Roger for providing such a bonanza of samples!